Do you keep or have you kept a journal or diary? If so, you probably already know some of the benefits of journaling because you’ve experienced them. You know that your journal helps you make sense of the senseless side of your life. A journal can be an emotional lifesaver when you go through a hard time. But did you know that scientists believe journaling can even keep you physically healthy?
The release of pent-up emotions you pour into your journal every day actually helps reduce the symptoms of arthritis and asthma, and strengthens your immune system. This really makes sense if you consider that much illness is exacerbated by stress, and a journal is one of the best stress reducers out there.
Journaling gives you a record of your emotional growth like no other. While it can be useful at times to be able to look back and see just when your neighbor moved in or when you started suffering from headaches, the intangible changes in you can be even more fascinating to look back over.
When you take the time to face your feelings, you can make clearer, more well-informed choices. Take the time to list what you want and don’t want in a career or a mate, and the choice will be easier to make when the time comes. Don’t think that journaling is just about narrative prose, either. Lists, poems, jokes, things that strike you funny, and even sketches — they all have a place in a journal.
A journal can help you work out problems in relationships. How? By constructively writing your feelings instead of tearing into that other person, you can see the situation more clearly. You can see where perhaps you were somewhat in the wrong so that you can honestly offer an apology. You can also clarify just what the other person did that upset you. Sometimes in the heat of an argument, it is difficult to put your finger on the specific problem.
There is no better way to know your own values than writing honestly from the heart in your journal. It is really important that your journal is private and safe, that no one else will be seeing what you write. Get a locking diary if you have people around you who might pry. When you feel safe, you can honestly look at yourself and your feelings.
Journaling can be used in any way you need for your own particular situation. As stated above, if you are looking for a mate or trying to choose a career, you can record your honest feelings about those decisions in lists and free prose. If you wish to start a business of your own, a journal is a wonderful place to dream on paper. Don’t worry if you look back over old writings and your ideas looked a little juvenile or unrealistic. The goal is growth, after all. You are simply growing.
Perhaps you are in a phase of life in which you have health goals. Your journal can be your greatest asset! Keep track of healthy meals you enjoy, or of types of exercise you master. By recording your goals, you will know when you have met them and are ready to move on to new ones. Do remember to make your goals bite-sized and objective. For instance, say, “I will do my Pilates video three times a week for a month” instead of “I will exercise more this month.” At the end of the month, if you have kept a written record, you will know if you did the Pilates according to your goal.