Journaling can became a check-in too. Picture: Pexels / Negative Space
Journaling can became a check-in too. Picture: Pexels / Negative Space

How journaling can help improve your life

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Mar 1, 2021

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Journaling is one of the most relaxing and therapeutic things you can do for yourself. It's a mindful practice that has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.

I’ve always been one to write down my thoughts down and my emotions. I had kept a diary throughout my teen years and early twenties but somewhere along the way I fell out of the habit.

While a friend of mine was going through depression and anxiety four years ago, we read that journaling could help. We hopped on to the journaling bandwagon again and started journaling every Sunday.

Our journey included writing what we felt at that moment, what we were grateful for in the past week, and setting new intentions for the upcoming week.

While we started journaling on a book, I felt that it was too much effort and moved to journaling on my phone instead.

Journaling became a check-in too. There are seasons in our lives when we feel balanced and motivated, and we’ve got our priorities straight. And other times we’re stressed and wonder what it’s all for. Going back to what I had written and how grateful I was at some point, evoked the same feelings when reading what I had journaled.

Scientific studies have shown it to be essentially a panacea for modern life. There are the obvious benefits, like a boost in mindfulness, memory and communication skills. But studies have also found that writing in a journal can lead to better sleep, a stronger immune system, more self-confidence and a higher IQ. This was true for me. After journaling on Sunday nights I’d sleep peacefully, it would feel like I had just had a therapy or an offloading session.

Research out of New Zealand suggests that the practice may even help wounds heal faster. How is this possible? James W Pennebaker, a social psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin who is considered the pioneer of writing therapy, said speaking to New York Times that there isn’t one answer. “It’s a whole cascade of things that occur,” he said.

Labelling emotions and acknowledging traumatic events — both natural outcomes of journaling — have a known positive effect on people, Pennebaker said, and are often incorporated into traditional talk therapy.

If you are looking for an emotional outlet, then journaling may be one of the solutions. If you are ready to star, here's the thing: there are no rules to journaling. You can start by writing a sentence every day. If you're having trouble with a paper and ink journal, you can write it down on your phone or any electronic device or you can even start a blog.

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