If you kept a diary in your younger days, you may remember being draped haphazardly across your bed pouring out your heart into your favorite little notebook. Some came with a lock and key while others were guarded by the special hiding spot in your room. No doubt you remember how liberated you felt once you wrote everything down on paper. You could see it in front of you, reading it again and again as it brought things into focus. Believe it or not, there were a lot of benefits to writing in your diary as a youngster. Well, things haven’t changed much. Only now it’s called a journal but there are still a ton of benefits.
Healing from Stress
Unmanaged stress negatively impacts physical, mental, and emotional health. Chronic or excessive stress can even lead to depression or other serious conditions as your body releases the hormone cortisol. While you may not always be able to avoid the triggers of stress, journaling offers a safe place to externalize your feelings and emotions without fear of judgment. Writing about stressful or traumatic situations helps release the emotional intensity of these feelings as it reduces the cortisol levels in your body. Journaling is a calming activity that helps clear your mind. It’s a very personal and healthy coping mechanism.
Multiple studies indicate that the health benefits of journaling are powerful. One of the biggest benefits involves engaging the left side of the brain which is responsible for the rational analytic thought process. Not only does this leave the right side of the brain free to wander and explore, but feelings of well-being are enhanced as you activate the entire brain. Journaling can also help identify patterns and thought processes as it slowly improves self-awareness and puts you in touch with your inner feelings. It helps put things into perspective which often leads to stronger emotional function and feelings of happiness. As you begin to manage adversity through journaling, you’ll also build self-confidence. It’s a healthy byproduct of a personal hobby.
Research indicates that T-lymphocyte immune cells are strengthened through journaling. While studies are still being conducted, early indications are that journaling can help reduce the physical impact of certain illnesses such as HIV, arthritis, and even asthma. Controlled studies conducted in New Zealand revealed that older adults who journaled after a medically necessary biopsy healed faster than their non-journaling counterparts. The powerful benefits of journaling are still being explored and new benefits are being revealed regularly.
Journaling for Health
Many psychologists recommend journaling on the road to recovery. It can improve mental, physical, and emotional health while building confidence and strength. Just keep in mind there is a process for effective journaling as it’s more than just a word dump on paper. If you think journaling may help you through a rough patch or physical trauma, contact Transcendence Behavioral Health to see how we can help.