The Benefits of Journaling

Journal with writing and with a pen and flower on top of the paper

There is a wealth of evidence describing the effects of journaling on the mind, body, and soul. The act of journaling is an ancient tradition followed by some of the most successful people in history including national leaders, inventors, and prominent philosophers. It involves dedicating time to writing out both specific and general thoughts pertaining to any issues or feelings you may have. Not only that, it is a useful practice in writing down any creative thoughts that occur out of the blue that may become significant inventions in the future.

I have been journaling ever since I can remember. Journaling always felt so natural to me. I would often turn to pen and paper whenever I needed to release overwhelming emotions or remember ideas that would come to me during random times. In truth, I’ve always been a writer and found a sense of peace whenever holding a pen to paper and outlining thoughts, positive, negative, or creative. I never really knew the benefits I was experiencing and no one ever recommended the practice to me. I just naturally gravitated toward it and knew that journaling was a useful outlet for me whenever I needed to understand my thoughts.

Recently, I began looking into the benefits of frequent journaling for the Yoga Success Journal I have been working on and found that the practice has been connected with an improved outlook on life. Below includes some of the benefits I have found. 

Neurological

The neurological benefits of journaling include improvements in communication skills and is correlated with increased intelligence, memory, and comprehension. The act of writing enables the mind to see its own thoughts in physical form. The mind is able to more logically process it’s thoughts by focusing on the words rather than the abstract thoughts tied to emotions. The words are also helpful in seeing correlations between thoughts or experiences.

When it comes to goal setting, journaling supports a boost in productivity and creativity. Writing down your goals and then breaking them down into more manageable pieces will help you to reach your targets more productively. It helps the mind to create the framework you need to meet your goals in an organized fashion and focus on tasks toward completion.

Journaling can also be used as a creative outlet by tapping into your subconscious. A practice called Stream of Consciousness Writing (SOCW) is the act of writing without thinking and allows you to freely write whatever comes to mind with no defined parameters. This is a very useful method in connecting with your individual genius and becoming more aware of your creative thoughts. Many prominent inventors and writers have used this method to develop some of their most successful creations including Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, and Toni Morrison. If you are ever experiencing writer's block, try SOCW to help you develop new material.

“The desire to write grows with writing”


Emotional

Journaling helps to release emotional toxins by releasing negative thoughts from the mind onto paper. This provides a clearer picture of the issues you might be having and allows you to brainstorm the causes for these issues. It also allows you to have a real conversation with yourself so you can get to the root cause of your personal demons and begin to work through them. Learning to become honest with yourself can be challenging in the beginning however, with time you will realize your true nature and begin to act on areas you want to improve. You will develop greater self awareness in how you behave as well as how you perceive certain situations.  

Journaling has also been connected to increased happiness by evoking greater mindfulness. Eckhart Tolle a prominent thought leader in the self development genre is a strong proponent for mindfulness and living in the present. The act of writing requires a level of concentration that creates mindfulness and removes past frustrations as well as future anxiety.

“Living in the past causes depression. Living in the future causes anxiety. Living in the present causes peace.”

Moreover, journaling helps to hone in on your emotional intelligence by developing the ability to understand your emotions. You will be able to identify specific emotions and their causes, and with time you will be able to develop positive habits that will improve how you deal with your emotions. With a high level of emotional intelligence you will develop a better relationship with yourself as well as with others.  The internal familiarity becomes a bridge of empathy that enables you to connect with other s on a much more intimate level. 

Journaling creates a stronger sense of self leading to higher self confidence. When journaling about positive experiences, your mind relives them and releases the endorphins from the experience. In addition, journaling positive affirmations reinforces positive thinking and increases one’s self esteem as well as prevents self doubt from tricking in.    

Physical

Journaling is a helpful tool in developing positive habits that enhance our skills and achieve set goals. As previously stated, writing down goals is an important step in understanding the targets that need to be reached. The act of writing not only sets the framework for how to achieve the goals but also signals the brain that “this is important.” The minds reticular activating system (RAS) will flag relevant opportunities, tools, or people that will help you to achieve those goals. The more detailed the goals the more likely you will achieve them in the mind. 

Journaling your goals also increases self discipline by creating an accountability system. In the first step you are outlining your goals into detailed and manageable tasks. You are also establishing timelines to complete those goals. Setting time aside to reevaluate your goals and productivity is an act of discipline that will turn into a continuous habit. Similar to a muscle the more you exercise it the stronger it becomes and habits formed in one area of your life have a tendency to spread.

“Discipline begets discipline.”

When developing physical goals such as improving your yoga practice or embarking on a weight loss journey, journaling is a highly recommended practice. It helps you to visualize your progress, identify patterns supporting or preventing your success, and reinforces your commitment to goals.

Overall, journaling is a powerful healing and self-development tool. It is a form of expression that leads to neurological, emotional, and physical conditioning. Journaling has been linked to increased quality of life by reducing stress leading to improved immune function, induced sleep, and greater happiness. Increased happiness can be linked to achieving goals, feeling more productive, creating purpose for yourself, releasing emotional blockages, and developing stronger relationships with yourself and others.


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