Journaling generally involves the practice of keeping a diary or journal that explores thoughts and feelings surrounding the events of your life. There are several different ways to do this. Journaling is excellent in stress management and a great self-exploration tool, working best when done consistently, but even occasional, sporadic journaling can be stress relieving when the practice is focused on gratitude or emotional processing. Here are some of the benefits of keeping a journal or diary as a student!
You Can Improve Your Writing
Journaling helps you to train your writing. If you want to practice or improve your writing, the best thing to do is to start a journal. You may not have the perfect topic. All you need is to start writing your thoughts. The more you write, the more your writing improves. If you have ever wanted to practice or improve your writing, the best thing to do is write. You don’t have to have the perfect topic or a specific theme, you just need to start getting your ideas on paper. The more you work through them, the more those ideas will flourish into something more complete. Writer’s block is an incredibly common problem that confronts writers at every level. By keeping a personal diary or journal and writing journal entries on a daily basis, you can combat writer’s block by keeping the creative juices flowing and feeling free to write without the pressure of a final product looming over you.
You Can Keep Your Thoughts Organized
Diaries help keep your thoughts organized and comprehensible. You can record daily musings, the feelings you had about a certain experience, or the opinions you had about a specific event. They can become memory banks of whatever you wish or reminders of anything you want. By creating diaries that are specific to certain topics, you can organize and archive your thoughts even more. Journals can take you back to that year you spent backpacking, they can remind you of a business you wanted to start or they can guide you to a happier state of mind. Whatever you decide to write about, writing in a diary helps you sift through the clutter in your mind by organizing your thoughts into notes, lists, memories, stories, and more. Keeping a journal can help you record all the thoughts you have on a particular day. They may be irrelevant, but they also may be inspirational and even educational for you when you get older and reflect on them. You may never know, but it never hurts to try.
It Offers You A Chance At Self Reflection
As Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” The fast-moving pace in our life makes us easily caught up with the day-to-day. Our life can become very hectic as we shoulder more responsibilities and have higher expectations that are required from us. Keeping a diary or journal is a good way to help us to stop, take a step back, and reflect on ourselves. We can self-reflect on gratitude or what we did today and write it in our diary. Daily reflection can be done at night before bed. We can look back at our life in a journal and think about how we’ve changed and what we can do to improve ourselves. You may begin to see patterns in your behavior, or in the behavior of others. The benefits of diary writing in are that you are able to look back at pages you’ve written and think about how you’ve changed, discover things you want to change, or decide on things you need to change. Introspection is one of the most important human skills to master to become a more compassionate and overall better person. A daily journal allows you to have that introspection — even if it’s just a taste — to reflect on who you were that day.
You Have A Place To Set And Achieve Your Goals
A diary or journal is a good place to write your goals, ambitions, aspirations, and new year resolutions. By keeping them in a diary, you can monitor your progress and continue to focus on the next milestone. As part of your morning creative burst, use your diary or journal to review and hone your daily to-do list. Review and hone your life vision and big-picture goals. As you read and re-write your goals daily, they’ll become forged into your subconscious mind. Eventually, your dreams and vision will consume your inner world and quickly become your physical reality. Progress is a critical component of any person’s growth and improvement. Did you become the person you are overnight? Of course not. In the context of your important life goals and personal objectives, a journal helps you see and keep track of the things that are truly important to you. Progress comes little by little. The importance of committing our desires to paper cannot be overstated. It is a simple process, but it pays great dividends. Writing out our goals provides the opportunity to articulate them clearly and makes their achievement appear closer. It is difficult to look back without also looking forward. As a result, when we journal, we naturally begin to look forward. And the next step becomes easier to see. Our journal is our story. It is our account of moving from Point A to Point B. And rightly shared, it can inspire others to do the same.
You Can Use It To Record Your Mental Health
You might be wondering how writing in a diary or journal can have a significant impact on your mental health. After all, it’s just putting some words on a page—how much can that really do for you? It turns out that this simple practice can do a lot, especially for those struggling with mental illness or striving towards more positive mental health. Journaling requires the application of the analytical, rational left side of the brain; while your left hemisphere is occupied, your right hemisphere (the creative, touchy-feely side) is given the freedom to wander and play (Grothaus, 2015)! Allowing your creativity to flourish and expand can be cathartic and make a big difference in your daily well-being.
Overall, journaling/expressive writing has been found to:
– Boost your mood/affect;
– Enhance your sense of well-being;
– Reduce symptoms of depression before an important event (like an exam);
– Reduce intrusion and avoidance symptoms post-trauma;
– Improve your working memory (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005).
In particular, journaling can be especially helpful for those with PTSD or a history of trauma. It’s hypothesized that writing in a diary or journal works to enhance our mental health through guiding us towards confronting previously inhibited emotions (reducing the stress from inhibition), helping us process difficult events and compose a coherent narrative about our experiences, and possibly even through repeated exposure to the negative emotions associated with traumatic memories (i.e., “extinction” of these negative emotions; Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005). Even for those without a traumatic experience to work through, a good idea of how writing can enhance our mental health. It can make us more aware (and self-aware!) and help us detect sneaky, unhealthy patterns in our thoughts and behaviors. It allows us to take more control over our lives and puts things in perspective. Further, it can help us shift from a negative mindset to a more positive one, especially about ourselves (Robinson, 2017).