Writing a journal can be a powerful tool to improve self-knowledge.
We live in a world in which we are losing the habit of writing. Most people write only what is strictly necessary, such as e-mails, text messages, task lists, meeting notes, or reminders. Few people are used to putting their thoughts and feelings on paper.
However, journaling can be a life-changing habit. Countless studies point out that writing about our daily lives, emotions, ideas, and goals has beneficial effects on physical and mental health.
Writing in a journal improves self-esteem and motivation for life, increasing self-confidence. It allows us to explore emotional and cognitive areas that we may not always have access to. In addition, many studies have shown that writing every day increases the body’s self-healing capacity. Anyone who has this habit can overcome infectious processes earlier and heal their wounds sooner. Gille Bolton, a researcher at the King’s College of Medicine and Art at the University of London.
5 advantages of writing a diary
Everyday writing can be difficult if you are not used to it. Like meditation, it requires discipline, patience, and commitment. But if you invest 15 minutes a day to capture your emotional experiences, goals, joys, or frustrations in a notebook, you will benefit. Here are the main benefits:
- Helps clarify feelings and thoughts
Keeping a journal will allow you to record your behaviors, failures, and achievements. In this way, when current circumstances seem insurmountable, you can look back, see previous dilemmas that you have already been able to resolve and offer ideas for resolving conflicts in the present.
Writing can also be useful when you don’t feel safe, sad, and confused. By writing, you will have access to your inner world and it will help you better understand and manage your emotions.
- Writing increases the likelihood that you will achieve your goals.
We have about 60,000 thoughts a day, and many of them are lost if we don’t develop them. So writing about our goals helps to refine thought processes and clarify our desires. In fact, research shows that writing a journal about our goals has a major impact on increasing the likelihood of achieving them because it motivates us to act.
Also, when we reach our goals, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for triggering a feeling of pleasure. This pleasurable sensation increases our motivation to continue and reach new goals.
- Improves problem-solving ability
When we have a difficult problem to solve, putting it down on paper helps us organize ideas and look at the situation from different angles. Then we can think about how to solve it in a more orderly and methodical way.
Writing about me is a way to explain myself, to put the order in my world, to recognize myself. If they were not dictated by the intention to make literature, one could say that these texts, so directly based on real situations, on real data, result from unusual therapeutic sessions, in which I am the patient and the doctor in one piece. And this has proven to be an effective relief of my ailments. Ángel González, poet.
- Helps to understand and overcome difficult moments
When we go through a negative and unexpected situation, writing can help us cope with the pain and move forward. In a study of 63 engineers who had lost their jobs, scientists asked some participants to write about their emotions daily. Participants in this group not only felt less anger about the situation but also found employment more quickly than those who did not practice daily writing.
- Improves health
Research from the University of Texas has concluded that regular writing is very beneficial to health because it relieves stress, reduces the risk of depression, and strengthens the immune system.
One experiment that was part of this University of Texas study found that people who had a health problem and wrote about it 3 or 4 times a week for about 15 minutes visited the doctor half as often as those who did not write. In addition, those who wrote had more antibodies and produced less cortisol, the stress hormone.
How to write a journal?
While some people can write for hours, researchers say that doing so 15 minutes a day, 3 times a week, can already have a positive impact on your physical and mental health. If you want your journal to be effective, but don’t know where to start, you need to:
- Find regular writing time and make it a habit. If you don’t have free time, you don’t have to do it every day, but there must be some consistency.
- Find a time and place where you won’t be disturbed and start writing. If you don’t know what to write about, you can:
- Write about something (or someone) that is important to you.
- Write about something you have done that makes you proud.
- Write about a current problem you are struggling with and its solutions.
- Write about 3 things you are thankful for today.
- Write about something that makes you sad and worried.
- Write about your goals and what you can do to reach them.
- Write about your secrets.
- Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. You don’t write to anyone else.
- Use the first person singular. Let your ideas flow and don’t even think about censoring yourself. Free your thoughts and be honest.
- Get a large notebook in which you can include not only annotations but also photos, memories, drawings, letters…
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