Why Journaling is Amazing for your Mental Health
I’ve been writing in a journal or diary of some kind since I could learn to write. Some time in elementary school I was given an adorable purple notebook with white cats all over it and I decided – I can’t wait to write down all of my 8 year old thoughts in this notebook. Thoughts varied from my crush on Ryan, my homework I didn’t understand, my spice girls birthday party, my crush on Brian (yes I liked a Ryan and a Brian) and why my brothers are “so totally unfair.” To be honest…my journal now looks vey similar.
So, I never really stopped. Sure, I’ve taken a few month hiatus’, but my loyalty to always have a journal handy remains tried and true. There are mornings I jump out of bed itching to write. Sometimes I need to vent, or get thoughts out of my head but more often than not I just like to write out what my day will look like and how that makes me feel. It helps me get my head in order for the day.
Journaling should be freeing and fun. You shouldn’t need to put any kind of barriers on what you write. I, like a few other creatives I know have been told completely ridiculous and isolating rules around journaling. Rules such as; you must write no less than 3 pages, you must write no more than 3 pages, you must never pause – write continuously even if you’ve run out of thoughts, just write anything, “The sky is blue. There’s a cat in the room. I’m hungry” just get your thoughts out. I say, bologna. Isn’t putting rules on journaling kind of defeating the purpose? Yes? I agree.
Figure out what works best for you. If barriers around journaling helps you then go for it. You can write any time of day of course but I find the morning works best for me. However, if I wake up one day and I don’t feel like journaling – I don’t. Journaling should be freeing. It should be a tool not a task, cherished not a chore.
It can help not only your mental health but your physical health as well. In 2013 Researchers in New Zealand found that 76% of adults who spent 20 minutes writing about their thoughts and feelings for three consecutive days two weeks before a medically necessary biopsy were fully healed 11 days later. There’s also evidence to suggest it helps your memory. Your brain will make stronger connections with information that you write down, which makes it easier for you to recall down the line. It also harnesses your creativity! There have been plenty of creative ideas I’ve manifested while writing in my journal. Everything from writing a solo show to decided to start this blog.
It’s also fun to reflect back on your life. Well, sometimes it’s humiliating but mostly it’s fun. I find it so wild how much I’ve changed over the years. How much I used to worry about things that I know now were not worth the stress. It’s literally an archive of your life and feelings, your worst nightmares and your greatest accomplishments. Have I sold you on journaling yet?
If you’re feeling stressed, alone, overwhelmed or sad I highly encourage you give journaling shot. Especially during times like these. Grab yourself a coffee or a glass of wine (if you’re journaling at night, but then again – who am I to judge,) grab an empty notebook, your best pen and get writing.
I promise you won’t regret it.
Self care, self flare.