Many people give up on keeping a journal. They write one or two entries, and lose interest. But keeping a journal is a lot like sticking to an exercise routine: it’s sometimes fun, sometimes frustrating, requires a lot of effort—but can help you live longer, happier lives. Here are some benefits of keeping a journal.
What is a journal?
A journal doesn’t just record what happened that day. It can include reflections, wild bursts of feelings, stream of consciousness as you mull over a difficult situation. It is a picture of your inner life, and may even be a map to your future—as you record dreams, detect (and break free) of patterns, and discover more about who you are and who you want to be.
Your journal and your health
Studies by North Dakota State University found that people who turn to a journal during difficult times tend to be less affected by stress. Their immune system is stronger and complain less of medical problems.
Another study by the State University of New York asked 112 patients suffering from arthritis or asthma to write in a journal for just 20 minutes. Half of them showed a significant improvement in health.
Your journal and your stress levels
Bottling up stress can increase your risk for depression. Releasing those emotions on paper can help give you both a cathartic release and a sense of calm. Journaling can also help you identify causes of stress and let you take the first step to breaking patterns.
Your journal and your relationships
Journaling can help you release negative feelings about other people and help you let go of past hurts. Your entries may also give you another perspective on a problem and see an issue from the other person’s side.
Your journal and your job performance
Journal writing helps you sharpen your writing skills and express your ideas clearly, an asset that will prove beneficial in the work place. It can also help you set goals and have better career direction, as you become more aware of how you feel and what you want from your life.