As an adult, you might feel silly about keeping up with a journal. You may think that journaling is something pre-teens and teenagers do, and you’re too old to indulge in “Dear Diary” moments at this point in your life. But, as it turns out, journaling can be incredibly therapeutic and has numerous benefits for individuals of all ages.
Journaling can be a great way to get all your thoughts down on paper. Maybe you’re an aspiring novelist, and a journal can help you keep all your thoughts organized. Maybe you still harbor anger or sadness toward a lost loved one, and it may help you to write a goodbye letter to them of sorts, chronicling all the ways that they hurt you, and your methods for letting it go. Or maybe you simply like the idea of keeping track of the events as they happen in your life for easy reference later.
If you’re curious about journaling and how it can improve your life, here is a list of 10 benefits of journaling that may inspire you.
Probably one of the more fulfilling benefits of journaling is its power to potentially help you heal, both in the long and short term. Writing your thoughts down may help clear the air as it dissolves the fog in your mind that stress can create that stands in the way of clearer thinking. Putting experience into words may be able to help you organize your thoughts and feelings and gain clarity over your experience, rather than allowing them to bounce about in your mind.
However, stress isn’t the only thing that journaling can relieve. Grief over a lost loved one, whether by death, estrangement, or a bad breakup, feelings of inadequacy at the office, self-doubt within a marriage—all of these things can be confronted and potentially alleviated when you take charge of your thoughts and write them down. Expressing all of your emotions through journaling can be an effective way to label your emotions, make sense of what you’re feeling, and potentially finally let them go as you quite literally face them on the paper or screen.
While journaling may be able to help you work through some of your difficult experiences in the long term, it also has many immediate benefits, as well. By releasing your emotions and expressing yourself through journaling, you may be able to find a sense of peace as it can reduce stress levels and reduce symptoms of anxiety. Journaling has also been proven to assist individuals with sleeping more peacefully and deeply. Finding it difficult to achieve the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night? Try journaling—you may just find that it helps immensely.
If, however, you find that journaling is simply not enough to help you cope with stressors or past grief, please consider reaching out to a counselor, who can help you right from the comfort of your own home.
A great way to feel the immediate benefits of getting in touch with the depth of your emotions is by writing down what’s bothering you or, conversely, making you happy, and seeing those emotions on the page, tangibly and right in front of you. One of the benefits of journaling is that you can improve your ability not only to understand and manage your own emotions but your ability to understand the emotions of others as well. Of course this helps to make you more empathetic, which allows for deeper connections with people.
3. Journaling Can Help You Achieve Your Goals.
Most of us set goals for ourselves, but sometimes, as we say, “life gets in the way” of these goals, and the things that you thought were once possible no longer seem to be. As a result, your goals may change, and you may sacrifice the things you once wanted for the things you now need, which can ultimately lead to depression.
You may be able to alleviate symptoms depression and get your goals more aligned by journaling about your goals — what they are and why you want to achieve them — so that you can refer back to that list throughout the year and do everything possible to make those dreams a reality. This point, one of the benefits of journaling, may help motivate you, help narrow your focus, and make your goals more tangible by creating clarity and writing down measurable actions that you can look at.
4. Journaling Can Help You Stress The Importance Of Your Goals.
This point goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. When you journal, this tells your brain that if you are taking the time to write something down, then it is probably important. The more details you include, the better. As a result, you are increasing the possibility that you will stick to your goals and achieve them because you will remember that what you wrote down was important enough to want to follow through with later on.
Studies show it is often easier to remember something after you write it down. That’s because your brain remembers the curvature of the letters, the color of the ink you used, the flaws on the page that you wrote upon; all of those little details come together to help you better remember what you had written down.
6. Journaling Can Improve Your Vocabulary.
It may not seem like journaling can improve your vocabulary when you’re first starting out, and it won’t necessarily while you’re still new at it. However, over time, you may grow tired of using the same words to describe things or to express yourself, and you may want to spice up your journal entries by looking up synonyms for the words that you use most often. In doing so, journaling is adding words to your lexicon, words that can be used in both your diary entries and in everyday speech. And because you are writing these new vocabulary words down, you may remember them more easily. Your communication therefore may also improve as a result of journaling.
7. Journaling Can Make You Smarter.
Improving your vocabulary and your communication may make you smarter in general. Because journaling is an exercise in practicing language, when you seek out new words and improve your vocabulary, you are increasing your level of intelligence. Here’s a good way to test how your intelligence has grown: after journaling for a year, try taking a vocabulary test online. You may just be surprised at how many more words you know (and get right!) than you used to.
Plus, as mentioned previously, journaling can increase your emotional intelligence, too, as you learn to be more in-tune with yourself and life around you.
When you set aside a time every day during which you are going to write in your journal, you are creating an act of discipline for yourself. It may help to choose a time that will be easy to stick to, no matter how busy you get, like when you wake up in the morning, or before you go to bed each night. The latter may be more beneficial, as it allows you to recap and release the stressors of your day before trying to sleep. Every time you show up at the scheduled time to your writing spot and put that pen to the paper, you are practicing self-discipline. The more often you practice, the better you will get at it and the easier it is likely to become.
You may find that self-discipline bleeding over into other aspects of your life, as well, because you made a plan — and stuck to it — to show up every time and work at your craft. Patience, determination, and consistency all combine into a recipe for a better person, which you can become every time you open your journal to write in it.
Maybe when you started reading this article, you were skeptical as to how beneficial journaling could really be. However, if you’ve gotten this far, you might have found that the benefits seem pretty real and feasible. On that note, when you consider how journaling could reduce your anxiety and self-doubt, improve your self-discipline, and help you organize your thought patterns, then it should come as no surprise that journaling can also improve your self-confidence as you learn more about yourself, how you handle things, and where you’d like to be in the world.
Not only that, but when you chronicle some of your more positive experiences, re-reading the entry allows you to re-live them and practice gratitude. Reading about your accomplishments can boost those endorphins in your brain, improving your mood and encouraging you to keep at what you’ve already achieved, while also setting new goals for yourself — benchmarks that you may now be more confident that you can meet.
10. Journaling Can Increase Your Level Of Creativity.
Journaling allows for what is called “stream of consciousness” writing. When you’re writing in a state of the stream of consciousness, thoughts and ideas just come to you, and you become freer and more expressive with your language and communication.
Another good idea is to look up writing exercises or prompts online. Some writing exercises may be nothing more than one line that inspires you to write about something crazy, and once you begin, it might be hard to stop. These types of writing exercises are great for those who are new to journaling and don't know where to start.
Evidence shows that online therapy can be an effective method to helping individuals understand how their thoughts influence their actions and emotions. In a wide-ranging review published in Internet Interventions — a peer-reviewed research journal — the effects of online cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) on common mental health disorders were examined.
In this meta-analysis, researchers note that mental disorders are considered a leading contributor to diseases, but that they are substantially under treated. This, they state, is due to a number of barriers, including costs, medical literacy, geographical constraints, and negative feelings toward therapy. According to the study, online platforms are a way around these obstacles, providing greater flexibility and accessibility to those who might not otherwise seek treatment.
As discussed above, online therapy is a valuable, highly accessible resource for those who want to better understand and address their emotions. With BetterHelp’s online platform, you may have the opportunity to write in a journal that can be shared with your counselor, if you choose. You will have access to a record of messages and journal entries that you can review if you want to remember certain discussion topics or points, instead of relying on your memory of a face-to-face session. The mental health professionals at BetterHelp can provide you with guidance when you’re looking to explore your feelings.
Read below for counselor reviews, from those who have sought help using similar methods in the past.
“Lindsay is so kind and sweet. I was nervous for video call sessions but her whole demeanor is so calming. I look forward to our weekly sessions and writing in my journal to her everyday. She always gets back to me at least once a day. Usually around the time I tend to feel my worst. She has already been a great help to me and I look forward to working with her more in the future.”
“Charity really tries to relate to my experiences during the sessions. She also seems to care about my progress by commenting on my journal posts right after I share them with her.”
There are numerous ways in which journaling can help you better understand your feelings and thoughts and can be a great supplement to other forms of therapy. If you’re experiencing any difficulties in your life, you can consider reaching out to a mental health expert for guidance and support. Working through difficult-to-confront emotions can make a huge difference in your life. Take the first step today.