Do you remember when you were a kid and you had a bad day at school, and then you’d come home, journal everything out and somehow felt instantly better?
It felt like you had just screamed all of your emotions out, but luckily it went all onto paper (let’s be honest…maybe you still screamed too). Then you guarded that journal with your life, maybe you even had a cute little lock on it.
If it worked so good for us as raging lunatic kids, why the heck did we stop? There is now scientific research to back up what journaling does to our minds. Journaling reduces stress, boosts the happy chemicals in the brain, boosts our immune system, and even makes us feel more confident. Who wouldn’t want a little more of that?!
Not to mention, journaling helps you achieve your goals. It provides the blueprint for all those killer ideas you have floating around in your head. Before you choose to put them into the physical, they’re still just thought bubbles. Solidify them by placing them on paper and visually being able to see how you can work through them.
Best of all, journaling helps you become more self-aware. Having self-awareness is the first step in creating positive changes in our lives. By knowing our thought and behavioral patterns, we can start to make more rational decisions that are in alignment with what we actually want to achieve.
Journaling has helped me (Hannah) spot doubt gremlins before their beady little eyes ever step out of their cave. As someone who has had self-doubt spells that have kept me from making consistent progress in achieving my goals, journaling has been a major key in catching those bastards right in the ass.
So here are 6 science-backed reasons why journaling can change your life:
1. Feel more Confident
Knowing exactly who you are and where you are headed gives you that “Oh shit- she’s a woman to watch” type of energy. The process of journaling allows you to get to fully know yourself through your thoughts, feelings and experiences.
Do you ever feel confused about why you feel a certain way (you know, those feelings about feelings…) or unsure about what direction to go? Taking a few minutes to write down your thoughts and emotions will quickly get you in touch with your internal world which helps you become more self-aware. Anyone who is confident (truly confident, not fake confident) has self-awareness.
2. Achieve your Goals
Until your goals are out on paper, they’re still just ideas. Given the fact that we have anywhere from 60,000-70,000 thoughts a day, good luck with keeping that idea at the forefront of your mind!
Writing out your goals and actionable steps, you will take to achieve them acts as a psychological blueprint. By tracking these steps or new habits, you are held accountable for them. Remember, you have thousands of thoughts to sort through, so just remembering your steps alone is hard enough! Writing down goals signals to your brain “this is important…now get to it.”
3. Reduce Stress
There’s power in disconnecting from the world and creating art for yourself, while at the same time tracking what is going on in your life. You are checking in with yourself and staying realistic about what is going on in your life.
It’s a gut check. Writing about stressful events, anger or any other painful emotions helps us to release the intensity of these feelings. By transferring the emotions onto paper, you will feel calmer and be better able to stay in the present moment rather than feeling anxious about the past or future.
4. Boost your Immune System
Because we know that stress is directly related to a weakened immune system, by journaling you are in turn boosting this system. The University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research indicates that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennebaker believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, acting as a stress management tool, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health.
5. Increase your Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to perceive and manage your emotions, as well as those of others. Being able to get on the same page with someone and have compassion for what they might be going through is a strong marker of emotional intelligence, while also allowing for a much deeper connection.
Journaling is a simple and effective tool for processing emotions and increasing your self-awareness. By becoming self-aware of your own emotions, you will actually increase your own empathy and be able to better understand what others are going through.
6. Feel Happier
Journaling is a great way to practice mindfulness. There is a strong connection between mindfulness and happiness. When we’re in a state of mindfulness, the happy chemicals in our brain are firing off like it’s the 4th of July! When we’re in this state of mindfulness, our frustrations of the past and anxiety of the future gently melt away.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”