Should you Journal?

WriterI’ve been an on-and-off journaler for many years. Sometimes, just a quick jot of my thoughts and feelings is enough to get it all out of me so I can settle.

The last couple of days, I’ve got back into writing, just a bit, before I go to sleep. I don’t know if it actually has any effect on me, but I like to think that those last niggling thoughts that would keep me hovering on the edge are allowed their time and space, and then I can drop off into sleep with no further worries.

There are a few good reasons to journal:

  1. You can say things that no-one else ever needs to hear or see. I remember someone I used to know who HATED that I had a journal, who thought I should be able to say everything that I needed to say. Can you imagine how trite/self-absorbed/bitchy I would have seemed? Ugh!
  2. You can see your own patterns of behavior in your writings. Can’t seem to reach your goals? Find healthy relationships? Attain personal or professional development? Maybe have a check back on your diary & see whether you are self-sabotaging (or just plain lazy!!) or some other really good reason, that you can then examine.
  3. Sometimes, you have a creative breakthrough while journalling. It’s that whole thing about allowing your brain space to soar while you scribble.
  4. Write yourself into history. Imagine in 100 years time when they unearth your journal (because I’m assuming you write with a pen and on that stuff they used to call ‘paper’), and you become some kind of national treasure! How exciting for them!! (Not so much for you, because probably you’ll be dead unless they’ve managed a work-around for that by then.

There is good solid evidence that keeping a journal will benefit you (because Science, am I right?) As you know, I like to find the Actual Scientific Evidence behind doing things, instead of just mindlessly doing them because someone with some initials behind their name told me to.  However, most of the posts I looked at (even the ones where the site name was Psychsomethingorother) didn’t quote many sources…

Then I found This Article which had lots of lovely references to exciting things, like physical benefits of journaling, including T-helper cell growth, antibody response to the Epstein-Barr virus, and antibody response to the Hepatitis B vaccinations, fewer overall illness-related visits to the hospital and number of days spent in the hospital if receiving services.  There have also been studies to show effect on one’s liver function, lung function, and blood pressure.

But largely, the benefit is psychological. Studies have shown that people who journal report having significantly less distress (i.e. suffering, sorrow, pain), feeling less depressed, and having an overall better mood.  Some report that journaling changes they way they behave towards and around other people.  Other studies have found that people who journal for extended periods of time (months) also report an increase in emotional well-being, a better day-to-day mood, and fewer symptoms of depression.

All in all, there seems to be more reason TO journal than there is not to. So I’m going to keep on doing it.


Should you Journal?
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