How and why journaling benefits our physical and psychological health?

Journaling has been described as a “voyage of the interior” because it gives us a way of expressing ourselves and takes away some of the mental pressures of the mind.    When writing we use the left side of the brain which governs logical thinking (analytical and rational), whilst the left brain is occupied this frees up the right side of the brain to be creative, intuitive and feel.

Benefits of journaling on physical health.

A study by James Pennebaker found that regular journaling strengthens immune cells called T-lymphocytes which help our body defend against germs, bacteria and other viruses keeping us healthy. There is also a link between journaling and decreased asthma and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.  Pennebakerbelieves that writing about stressful events helps you to process and come to terms with them which reduces the impact of these stressors on your physical health.

Benefits of journaling on psychological health.

Journaling is particularly helpful if you struggle with depression or anxiety as it helps to gain better control of your emotions, which improves mental health. There are other psychological benefits from journaling such as;

  • Clarify thoughts; Journaling helps to clarify your thoughts and feelings, and by letting those feelings out on the page, reduces stress.
  • Removes mental blocks: It creates an opening for you to let your creativity flow freely.
  • Understand feelingsGives you an opportunity to get to know what makes you happy, sad, anxious, confident, as well as see who and what is affecting you and when
  • Solve problemsWriting things down on paper can give you a different perspective to a difficult situation as it allows you to utilise both your creativity and logic to solve problems.
  • Resolve disagreementsGives you an avenue to express worries and disturbances and can help you see things from the other’s person perspective.
  • Boosts your mood: Journaling can give you a chance to remember and acknowledge some of the good things that you have experienced.

So given these amazing benefits, let’s get your journaling started!!!!

What you will need for your journaling.

I recommend getting yourself a special pen and a journal book that is specifically used for journaling only.  You can also get creative and write in the sand or a piece of tree bark or whatever suits you, but the key is to get it out of your head and out of your heart.

Getting journaling started is one thing but you also have to make sure you make a commitment to keep journaling on an ongoing basis. Try committing to journaling once a day before bed, even if it is just a few sentences, the key is to keep it consistent and create a health habit of regular journaling.

What to write; Journaling ideas and prompts. 

Your journal is about you and you can write anything that comes to mind. Here are some ideas of what to write to get your journaling kick started;

  • Create a Brainstorm list of activities to reduce your stress and anxiety. 
  • Make a plan to add at least 3 activities to your schedule this week.
  • Write yourself a letter forgiving you for something that has happened in your past.
  • Choose an inspiration word for the week. What does it mean to you? How can you live your life this week with that word in mind?
  • Write a list of 5 things you are grateful today
  • What do you like about yourself?
  • What has been one of your greatest life lessons? What did this teach you?
  • What was the happiest moment of your life? Reflect on every detail of this experience and why it was so special?
  • Write a letter to your past self and things you know now which you wished you knew back then
  • Write a bucket list.
  • Who means the world to you and why? What traits of theirs do you value?
  • Make a list of the people in your life who genuinely believe in and support you. Explore why their support means so much to you.
  • Make a list of your priorities for the week, month or year. Are these aligned to what you really want to be doing in life?
  • What is one thing you wish you had said no to? Why didn’t you? What impact did it have on your experience?
  • What can you do or change in your life to focus more on your health and wellbeing?
  • Write about your day or week? Are you feeling happy or sad? What did you learn from this?
  • Where is your happy place?
  • Write a list of self-care activities to do when you are feeling stressed or you mood is flat.
  • What are the 12 things you want to do this year? Pick one for every month and tick them off.
  • List how you can be kinder to yourself.
  • List all the new skills you’d like to learn this year. Outline the approach you’ll use to fulfil them.
  • Make a list of things you could do to be a better person to yourself and other people.
  • List all the areas in your life that you’d like to change. Break them down into relationships, self, work, health, and finances and what steps you need to take start making some changes.
  • List the habits that negatively affect you and others around you. What is the benefit or disadvantage of letting go this habit?
  • Make a list of fun things to do then make a plan to do them.
  • What do you like about your job? What don’t you like about your job? Think of ways to make your job more enjoyable.
  • Write about a person you admire. What qualities do you share with this person?
  • When was the last time you helped someone? What did you do?
  • What deeply frustrates you? What could you do to address this frustration?
  • When do you feel most inspired?
  • How do you want to be remembered?
  • Interview your past and future self
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