Can you remember the last time you sat down and wrote how you were feeling? When it comes to writing, if you’re like most people, it probably consists of to-do lists and reminders of what to buy at the grocery store. The last time you probably wrote in a journal was “dear diary” when you were a kid.
However, journaling is much more than a childhood pastime. It can be a powerful tool to express your thoughts, feelings and emotions.
“Journaling is all-encompassing approach to taking charge of ourselves and our lives,” says Tanya J. Peterson, NCC. “Journaling is an action, something you can do to begin to shape and create your quality life.”
Health Benefits of Journaling
Journaling helps you take control of your thoughts
Journaling raises our self-awareness of and provides more direct access to our thoughts and emotions.
“Instead of allowing wild, stressful, anxiety-provoking thoughts running amok in our mind, when we journal, we corral them, intentionally funneling them out of our head and onto paper in front of us,” Peterson explains. “Then, we can see them in a new way, organize them, be present with them without judging them.”
Writing down how we think and feel allows us to respond, not react. We can look at what’s going on inside of us as an observer, and in doing so, build a new relationship with our thoughts and feelings.
Journaling reduces stress
When we journal mindfully, we impact our body’s stress response. By taking the time to pause and write, we slow down. Our breath changes, our muscles relax and tension is released.
“Through journaling, we are taking charge of our body’s stress reaction by quieting the sympathetic nervous system (the fight-or-flight response) and activating the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest-and-digest) system,” says Peterson. “We gift our whole being—mind, body, and spirit—with an opportunity to pause and step away from the daily chaos for a while.”
While stress is inevitable, we have a choice whether to let it consume us or take our power back.
Journaling brings you back to the present
The act of journaling directly nurtures our mental and physical health in that moment.
“When you’re immersed in your present moment of journaling, you’re no longer stuck in old thoughts and emotions, and you’re not worrying about the future,” Peterson explains. “Instead, you’re actively living and shaping your quality life.”
One of the main reasons journaling is so therapeutic is because you’re literally letting go of the past by writing it down. This is what helps us achieve inner peace.
Allows you to dive deeper into your motivations
What drives you? What are you passionate about? Journaling enables you to gain greater mental clarity and insight into who you are.
“It helps us explore our sense of meaning and purpose in our lives, to set intentions and goals, and to plan positive action steps.”
And once you raise your self-awareness, you can visualize and create a brighter future.
Pro tip: Set the mood! Peterson explains that you can use your senses to ground yourself in the moment and fully enjoy your journaling time. Perhaps you have a special journaling spot (a favorite chair in your home or a cozy corner in a quiet room, for example). Light some candles or an oil diffuser — whatever enriches your journaling practice.
Have you noticed any health benefits from journaling? Let us know in the comments. And while you're at it, make sure to subscribe to Silk + Sonder today.