3. Improves emotional health
Journaling lowers stress, depression and anxiety because it strengthens your emotional functions. People who have been writing diaries for years showed long-term health benefits of journaling as well as high self-confidence and self-identity. They have a deep awareness of their needs, desires and wants. Over time they become very mindful. This is why some diarists say writing is like emotional catharsis. Their brain has more power to regulate emotions.
One thing that is common in most expressive writers is – structured, adaptive, and integrated schemas about themselves, others, and the world. No wonder they can better manage personal adversity and always demonstrate growth in life.
You will be surprised to know that diarists also have high emotional intelligence. This is one of the best benefits of journaling. Writing daily also makes you better at recognizing, comprehending, and influencing the emotions of other people. For those trying to spike their EQ levels, writing is an amazing tool!
4. Boosts brain power
Maud Purcell, a psychotherapist and journaling expert told Fast Company that writing your thoughts and feelings access the left part of the brain responsible for rational and analytical thinking. While the left brain is occupied in expressive writing, your right brain is free to create, feel and intuit. In short, journaling brings about left-brain right-brain assimilation and allows you to use more of your brainpower.
The expressive writing process:
- Enhances the brain’s ability to intake, retaining, and retrieve information
- Improves your brain’s attentive focus
- Reduces forgetfulness
- Removes mental blocks and helps you better understand the world around you
- Helps you use both parts of the brain for deep self-exploration
- Helps you develop a positive, holistic view of yourself
- Prepares you for challenging conversation
- Fosters self-forgiveness
- Helps you chalk out a new life path
- Cultivates spiritual practice
Kudos to all the bloggers! Blogging releases dopamine or the happy hormone that helps in emotional regulation. For those who still prefer pen-on-paper writing like Anne Frank, you will be glad to know that it activates a “reticular activating system” in the brain that filters and focuses information.
Pro tip: Try cursive handwriting when journaling! It stimulates brain synapses and synchronicity between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Printers and typers can’t reap these benefits. Writing in cursive improves language, thinking and working memory.
5. Helps you recover from trauma
Whether it is trauma due to an accident, abandonment or prolonged illness or abuse, journaling can help you recover from it. Are you ruminating? Or having intrusive thoughts? Writing down what went wrong and how you felt bout it will allow you to process things easily.
You will start confronting things instead of denying or avoiding them. Once you confront, moving one becomes less painful!
According to a study published in Global Qualitative Nursing Research, keeping a mood journal is one of the effective self-management strategies that speed up recovery from trauma as well as various psychiatric conditions like bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety.
6. Strengthen immune function
Stress elevates the levels of cortisol hormone that impedes immune function. Writing what’s on your mind or something emotional lowers cortisol levels, according to a study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology.
Journaling boosts your immune system functioning and lowers your risk of illness. Expressive writing ensures faster recovery from injuries. A study published online by Cambridge University Press showed that writing for 15–20 minutes on 3–5 occasions improved physical and psychological health, in both clinical and non-clinical participants. Study results also showed
- Stronger immunity
- Reduced blood pressure and heart rate
- Improved liver function
- Improved lung function
- Fewer doctor visits and hospital stay
Some other physical health benefits of journaling are
Research showed following medical conditions that might benefit from expressive writing:
- Lung functioning in asthma
- Pain and physical health in cancer
- Disease severity in rheumatoid arthritis
- Sleep-onset latency in poor sleepers
- Immune response in HIV infection
- Hospitalisations for cystic fibrosis
- Post-operative course
- Pain intensity in women with chronic pelvic pain