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5 Health Benefits of Journaling and How to Start

Read Time: 3 minutes 

As we move further into the digital age, it seems like everything is done electronically.

We communicate with friends and family through text and social media, get our news from online sources, and even do our work and school assignments digitally.

But what about those who prefer pen and paper? Are they at a disadvantage?

Research suggests that people who write things down the old-fashioned way are reaping benefits that those of us who rely on electronic communication is missing out on. 

In fact, researchers display growing concerns about the way technology is negatively impacting our communication and critical thinking abilities.

We're not saying the digital age is terrible (this article is online after all), but it doesn't hurt to go back to the basics sometimes.

So, if you're looking for a way to unplug for a bit and boost your well-being, try picking up a notebook today. Here are just a few benefits researchers have noticed.

Processing Difficult Feelings

Journaling can support a better, more positive mindset, and lessen feelings of despair or upset. 

For one, it can help you process difficult emotions and experiences. You can use your journal to vent about the things stressing you out, without worrying about being judged or interrupting someone else's day. This can help you feel better equipped to deal with whatever is going on in your life.

Self Esteem Boost

Journaling can also help boost your mood and self-esteem by allowing you to track your progress and accomplishments over time.

As you flip through previous entries, you'll see just how far you've come, which can help motivate you to keep going even when things are tough. For more about setting goals and keeping them, check out our tips here.

Lower Stress Hormones, Better Sleep

Physical health benefits have also been linked to journaling. One study found that people who wrote about stressful experiences had lower levels of stress hormones in their bodies afterward.

In addition, keeping a routine of journaling can help improve your sleep quality. Lower stress hormone levels can set your mind and body at ease, so you have trouble sleeping, try writing down your thoughts and worries before bed. This will help clear your mind and allow you to relax enough to fall asleep.

Supporting Lower Chronic Pain Flare-Ups

Chronic pain sufferers have also found journaling to be helpful. In one study, people with chronic pain who wrote about their experiences had less pain and lower levels of disability afterward.

This could be because chronic pain flare-ups are often linked to prolonged mental stress. Since keeping a journal can lower your stress hormone levels, you may be less likely to experience a flare-up.

Creative Boost

Another great benefit of journaling daily is that it can help increase your creativity. If you're feeling stuck in a rut with a work project or a hobby, spending some time writing down your thoughts and ideas can help jumpstart some great ideas.

And creative thinking isn't just for artists! Strengthening your creative thinking skills has been linked to improved communication skills in the workplace, and stronger relationships overall.

Tips for Designing Your Journal

So how do you get started? It's important to find a system that works for you. Some prefer writing by hand in a notebook, and others prefer an open page with no lines, such as a sketchbook.

There's no right or wrong way to do it, so experiment until you find a method that suits you best. You might want to incorporate drawings, colors, magazine clippings, images, or even paint! The possibilities to make it unique to you are endless.

Also, don't worry about writing perfectly or having deep philosophical insights—the point is simply to get your thoughts down on paper. Journaling isn't about skill or impressing anyone. Put self-doubt aside and let yourself explore.

Set aside 10-15 minutes each day (or week) to write and see how it goes! Make a habit of doing it at the same time, whether first thing in the morning or the last thing before bedtime.

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