Write it Down: Benefits of Journaling and How to Start

There are a lot of different stereotypes that come up when someone mentions journaling. There’s the classic heart-shaped lock on a book filled with “dear diary” entries written in sparkly gel pen. Or, there’s a vision of an old man on his deathbed scribbling in a feather pen all of the things he wishes he’d done differently.

However, journaling is no longer only reserved for teenage girls with school crushes or wise old men writing down their secrets to life. It’s a great practice to integrate into your daily routine that brings more health benefits than you may think.

Here are just a few of the benefits of journaling daily and some tips on how to start.

Benefits of Journaling:
  1. Mindfulness - Journaling, by nature, requires you to live in the here and now. Because your hands forming the words on each page move much more slowly than words forming in your brain, it forces your mind to slow down and meditate on each moment.
  2. Improved Immune System - Did you know that writing is good for your physical health? Studies have shown that those who journal regularly experience benefits such as improved immune system functioning and shorter recovery time from injuries.
  3. Better Mood - Writing about your feelings can help your brain overcome emotional distress and leave you feeling happier and more calm. This is due to the fact that writing reduces the activity in a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is responsible for controlling the intensity of our emotions. 

How To Get Started:

  1. Commit to a Time - Start by simply deciding what time of day you’ll journal. Some people like to wake up early and journal before their day begins while others prefer to write down their experiences at the end of the day before they go to bed. Choose whatever works best for you and your schedule then commit to trying it out for a week.
  2. Make it Easy - You don’t have to go from never writing to an avid journaler writing for an hour a day! Start simple and make it easy for yourself. Commit to writing for 5 minutes a day or simply start by writing until you fill one page of your journal then stop for the day.
  3. Start with a Prompt - There’s nothing more frustrating than staring at an empty page wondering where to even begin. Start by picking a prompt and writing from that each day for a full week. Your prompt doesn’t need to be complicated, it can be as simple as “3 things you are grateful for”, “a memory from your day”, or “2 words to describe how you’re feeling at that moment ”. If you’re having a hard time thinking of one, a quick google search for “daily journal prompts” should get you off to a great start. 

One thing you may experience as you continue to develop your new habit of journaling is as you begin to dive into your current emotions it may start to unlock memories or emotions in you that you didn’t know you had (or have pushed aside for many years). Journaling is a powerful way to explore the deeper parts of your psyche and is a tool that many therapists recommend. If you find yourself discovering new uncharted emotional territory as you journal and would like to talk with a professional, I would love to set up a time to connect; you can email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323.