Whether you have a difficult exam coming up or you recently got into a fight with your best friend, we all experience stress.
These relatable and uneasy feelings can become overwhelming when you don’t have someone to confide in, don’t want to bother a friend with your problems, or maybe you’re not even quite sure how you’re feeling at all— so what do you do?
Journaling is the perfect solution, and I can tell you from personal experience.
My aunt gave me my first journal when I was only eleven years old. She told me that I could always talk to her when I needed, but if I ever had a lot on my mind and wasn’t in the mood to talk, I should write everything down.
Ever since, I’ve worked journaling routinely into my life and I’ve reaped many benefits.
You may already have healthy coping mechanisms in place like exercising, meditating, cooking, painting or listening to music, but your worries may still linger and require addressing.
Putting things on paper allows you to purge your thoughts with complete honesty and confidentiality. It allows you to map out your grievances and make sense of your problems by looking straight at them.
When I feel stressed, I often turn to my journal to help me develop my thoughts so that I can then figure out how to alleviate my anxieties — sometimes simply releasing my bottled-up feelings is enough to make me feel better.
Journaling is also a good way to practice mindfulness, allowing you to become more self-reflective and self-aware.
By consistently writing out my feelings, I’m able to identify patterns and triggers of stress so that I know how to avoid them in the future. By reflection on my experiences, especially in regards to my relationships, I’ve been able to realize things from my behavior that I hadn’t seen before because I was too emotional, which has made me a better person.
Don’t just take my word for it. A study conducted by Matthew Leiberman showed that writing down your feelings allows for a catharsis that helps your brain with emotional regulation and boosts your mood.
However, the benefits of journaling go beyond emotional regulation and reducing stress. A 2005 study conducted by Karen A. Baikie and Kay Wilhelm showed that consistent journaling can reduce blood pressure, improve immune system functioning, and improve working memory, among many other things.
Journaling is also a great way to practice gratitude and explore your creativity. It’s not all about ranting. Journaling provides a space for setting goals and acknowledging positive influences in your life.
Whenever I journal, I try to write down one thing I’m thankful for and one goal. By doing so, I feel motivated to take on the day and go forward with a positive attitude.
Journaling doesn’t have to feel like a chore, or even self-care, it can also be fun!
Your journal is a time capsule: a collection of all life chapters, thoughts, feelings and aspirations— so get creative and make them pretty for your future self to look back on! Fill your book with colors, patterns, doodles and collages to try to best capture your experiences.
You could be doing your mental and physical health a big favor by picking up this healthy and easy habit. All you need is a blank book and fifteen minutes a day to start seeing the benefits to give your body and mind the care it deserves.
Cover image credit: beradadisini.com