It seems that everywhere you look, someone’s encouraging you to start journaling. But why? Why do people swear that journaling has changed their lives?
So, you’ve reached the part in the movie where the villain is bragging about their evil plans, confidently voicing how the world will remember them because, of course, they have their life all written down somewhere for the future to discover it. Or maybe you’re watching the protagonist flip through a dusty notebook full of their ancestor’s noteworthy moments in life, their mind absorbing all the lessons found between the soft, yellowing pages. And as they clutch the diary as if it’s a treasure, you think to yourself, “Hmmm, should I too document my life for whoever comes across it in the future?”
From artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Frida Kahlo to scientists like Marie Curie and politicians like Winston Churchill, their life stories and journal-keeping act as a reminder that journaling was around long before it became trendy and romanticized on social media platforms. But why have people been journaling for over centuries, and why do they still continue to do so today?
Strengthens Immune System
Yes, you read that right! Journaling, the act of writing daily (or almost daily if we’re being realistic) can improve your immune system and help limit the risk of disease. While it might seem too good to be true, it has been discovered that expressive writing, i.e., writing to describe deep feelings and thoughts, can not only help you move past traumatic experiences as you try to understand your emotions, but by doing so it can help strengthen immunity cells increasing your chances of fighting diseases.
Journaling can also help improve your immune system by decreasing your stress levels. While not directly linked to increasing the number of white blood cells in your body, the way journaling helps strengthen your immune system is by allowing you a safe space to jot down your emotions and thoughts, making it easier to analyze why certain things are making you stressful and explore alternatives to anxious thoughts. This can be a very crucial activity to do for your health as long-term stress can weaken your immune system.
Allows Your Mind Roam Free
Another benefit of journaling is that it encourages you to dig deep and let whatever you find come out. This can be beneficial in more than one way. For starters, writing down whatever comes to mind can be freeing as, at that moment, you realize that your pages don’t have to look neat or be full of correct grammar and formal language. Practicing this action of talking to yourself through written words can assist you in learning when to listen to your inner critic and when to ignore it. Furthermore, realizing that your inner critic isn’t always right can push you to be bolder and braver, not just in what you allow yourself to feel or think but also in what you create outside of your journal.
Writing to yourself can also essentially spark your relationship with your inner voice, allowing you to listen to it more often and understand how to nurture it. This is very important as your inner voice is something you can never silence. Instead of trying to run away from it, you need to try and understand why it’s speaking a certain way, where that is steaming from, and how to change it, if necessary. You might just be surprised by your inner voice’s wisdom once you start listening to it!
Teaches You Lessons
Remember those days when you’d stay up past bedtime, tiny reading light under the covers guiding you to the lines you’re about to fill of your adventure to the ice cream shop with the most popular girl in school or your day and that math exam you definitely failed? Now, perhaps a more painful memory is going through those journal entries as a grown-up 10 years later and cringing endlessly at your teen self. But while we laugh at ourselves and those earlier years, journaling can be utilized to measure growth and understand what actions and decisions made us happier and what harmed us.
But don’t think that you must start journaling from a young age or for a long time to be able to find lessons from your experiences. Even if you’re just starting to journal today, the reflection that comes with writing down your day, your emotions, and your thoughts can greatly help you understand what’s really going on inside, away from the numerous distractions of the busy world we live in.
There are many reasons why people decide to start journaling. Some might need a creative outlet, while others simply want a place to store precious memories. And, more often than not, the reason we journal might change as we evolve and change. So, experiment with the various types of journaling and understand that your journal will never look similar to anyone’s. Maybe that’s the magic of journaling; it’s a place, whether a notebook or a word document, filled with you and you alone.
Just be sure not to spend too much time browsing stationery stores and bookshops for that ‘perfect’ notebook that you never actually start.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go ignore my advice and spend hours wandering bookstores. While I’m at it, might as well stop by the stationery shop and get some super cool pens!
Photo: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock
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