I always thought journaling was a great way to manage and explore our emotions so today we're going to talk about journaling. There are huge benefits to journaling, both physical and emotional. Physical benefits include improving immunity, decreasing blood pressure, improving liver function, decreased symptoms of asthma & rheumatoid arthritis, and faster wound healing. Emotional benefits, on the other hand, are decreasing stress, improved memory, emotional regulation, and improved self-awareness of your needs and wants. It can also help you to cope with symptoms of mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.
As you can imagine, there have been several studies on the topic. One study showed that you can lower your blood pressure by journaling only 15- 20 minutes a day, 3 to 4 days out of a 4-month period! That is actually a really small time commitment for a such big reward. Another study showed a link between journaling and recovering quicker after a break-up. And yet another study showed decreased anxiety in those who journal. So as you see, journaling can be a really great thing to start.
Many people can become self-conscious when they first try journaling but try to remember that it's just for you. No one else ever needs to read it, or even know about it, so there’s no need to be perfect. And you know, the times when you least want to journal, that’s when you need to do it the most! Try these easy steps to begin journaling today...
1. Plan to write something every day. It can be simple. It can be messy. It can be short. Just write something. Really, just write anything! You can start by just reciting the things that happened in your day or writing about what the weather was. However, to get the emotional benefits, you really need to do some expressive writing that expresses and explores your emotions and speaks from your heart. Expressive writing cares more about the feelings in a situation than in the facts. And it really doesn’t care at all about punctuation or spelling!
2. If you're really stuck on what to write, there are all kinds of lists of prompts you can find on the internet, or for your convenience, I’ve listed a few here:
a. Today I felt really proud about…
b. What do I know about myself that I didn’t know a year ago?
c. What do I hope to accomplish this year?
d. One thing that really frustrates me about my life right now is…
e. What do you worry the most about?
3. Find a format that is easy for you. Old fashioned paper and pen are fine. But so is using your phone or a word processor on your computer or a journaling app. Whatever works for you is fine.
Check out these well-reviewed apps for journaling…
b. Day One Journal
4. Also, there is no need to write at all if you don’t feel comfortable with that. Instead, try drawing, making a collage, making a video recording- use whatever form makes the most sense for you. Art is a great way to express your emotions and if it’s easier for you to express yourself in this way, then, by all means, use it!
5. Set a time to journal every day and set a reminder on your phone. Or pair your journaling with a habit you already have in place. For instance, journal with your morning coffee, or in the evening when you get into bed, or arrive at work a few min before everyone else and use that time. You will be more apt to remember to do it if you pair it like this with an already established habit.
6. Find a quiet place that inspires you and limits distractions. Maybe at your desk or curl up in a corner of your sofa.
7. Finally, just start! It doesn't need to be perfect. It’s a tool you are using for your own self-care.
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