We all remember the glory days of high school. History, algebra, maybe a P.E. day every now and then and of course the dreaded… writing class. We know; some days it felt like agony trying to get one single idea out on paper.
But, your scary old English teacher may have actually been onto something. Journaling can not only better your personal life, but it can improve your altruistic life focus. Turns out, regular writing and keeping a journal actually has a lot of surprising mental and emotional health benefits. Today, we’re going to check them out.
1. Emotional Outlet
Step one: emotional intelligence. Holding in emotions—especially sad, angry, negative ones—has been shown to have incredibly detrimental effects on a person’s health. Daily journaling allows you to release these emotions in a safe, non-judgemental environment, while increasing your self-awareness and emotional perception. Getting negative stuff out on paper leaves more room for positivity to fill you up, leading to a happier and healthier lifestyle.
2. Stress Reduction
With emotional intelligence comes less stress. Oftentimes, we feel overwhelmed at situations we perceive as uncontrollable. However, writing about these experiences and actually seeing them on paper gives us something to grasp mentally, helping to reduce our stress levels about the issue. Some studies by Psychology Today have shown journaling to not only reduce stress, but to also lower anxiety and induce a deeper sleep.
3. Creativity Boost
This one’s a no-brainer. The more you write, the more practice you have to get those creative juices flowing. You’ve probably heard the saying before: the question isn’t whether or not we’re creative, it is how to let the creativity out. Regular writing gives you the opportunity to brainstorm new ideas, thoughts and questions, pushing you out of your comfort zone and into a brand new creative realm.
4. Mental Engagement
Of course, the more creative we feel, the more our brains are challenged, and the more we are mentally engaged, which can literally strengthen our IQ. As journaling is an exploration of language, it causes us to search for new words, challenge ideas and strengthen our vocabulary. So, your English teacher was right—writing does make you smarter.
Setting aside time each day to journal and then sticking to it creates a more disciplined lifestyle, which is a valuable asset to have. Self-discipline can then seep into other areas of life, e.g. getting your work assignments in on time, following through on relational promises or even eating healthier. When it comes to making a positive change, nothing is more important than having a strong self-discipline.
6. Goal Setting
Finally, one of the greatest benefits of all: journaling helps you set and achieve your goals. When we journal, we write about our aspirations, our dreams, our goals. Putting these words to paper and actually writing out what we want to accomplish makes them much more realistic—and realistic means achievable. Writing down goals tells your brain “this is important.” Then, your brain is more prepared to mark relevant opportunities and tools to achieve the goal.
While writing might not have been our favorite class in high school, it’s definitely up there now. Keeping a daily journal has enormous benefits, and encourages us to live a happier, healthier, more altruistic lifestyle. So whether you’re sitting at home, relaxing in the park or enjoying your favorite restaurant, crack open your journal and get writing… you may just be surprised at everything you have to say.