Apparently it can. Both PsychCentral.com and Psychology Today agree that journaling can help your health.
Reduce stress, be more productive
According to PsychCentral, the benefits might be as minimal as reduced stress or help you manage your emotions. The article indicates journaling can help:
- Clarify your thoughts and feelings. Do you ever seem all jumbled up inside, unsure of what you want or feel? Taking a few minutes to jot down your thoughts and emotions (no editing!) will quickly get you in touch with your internal world.
- Know yourself better. By writing routinely you will get to know what makes you feel happy and confident. You will also become clear about situations and people who are toxic for you — important information for your emotional well-being.
- Reduce stress. Writing about anger, sadness and other painful emotions helps to release the intensity of these feelings. By doing so you will feel calmer and better able to stay in the present.
- Solve problems more effectively. Typically we problem solve from a left-brained, analytical perspective. But sometimes the answer can only be found by engaging right-brained creativity and intuition. Writing unlocks these other capabilities, and affords the opportunity for unexpected solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.
- Resolve disagreements with others. Writing about misunderstandings rather than stewing over them will help you to understand another’s point of view. And you just may come up with a sensible resolution to the conflict. (article).
Write out difficult experiences
Whereas Psychology Today goes much deeper. They spoke with Dr. James W. Pennebaker who is a social psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin. He talks about how writing can be tremendous therapy for people who have experienced traumatic events.
“When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experienced improved health. They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function. If they are first-year college students, their grades tend to go up,” he says.
I have definitely experienced all of the bullet points listed above from Psych Central. What about you? Have you been able to keep a journal long enough to find benefit in it? Leave a comment by clicking here.
Two blogs I follow that have been helpful for both productivity and goal achievement are Time Management Ninja and Michael Hyatt. Both have written a few articles on journaling.
My first journal dates back to age 10 when I recorded my thoughts on our family trip to PEI. As an extrovert and external processor, I’ve found that writing out my thoughts acts in a similar way to talking things out. Sometimes things are important or personal enough that I don’t want to share them with others until I understand them better.
Time Management Ninja has a list of 5 ways journaling helps you be more productive:
- Gather Your Thoughts. Journaling is a great exercise that lets you write down your thoughts. It doesn’t matter whether you write down things you have done, things you want to remember, or things you want to do. Your journal can be a place to simply collect your thoughts.
- Hold Yourself Accountable. When you write down your goals, you are much more likely to accomplish them. Seeing your dreams in writing can be powerful, and seeing your goals in text can be daunting. When I look at my journal, it motivates and drives me forward.
- Capture Ideas. Journaling can be a powerful experience in “emptying your head.” The ideas just start coming. I often find myself adding things to my to-do list while journaling. Tasks that are important yet intangible in day-to-day life are spotlighted when I write them down.
- Hear Your Inner Voice. Writing in a journal is like having a conversation with your inner self. You get in the zone, and your inner thoughts just start flowing. Sometimes you don’t even know what had been on your mind until you write it down.
- Ponder What’s Most Important. Journaling lets you confront what is most important to you. Internally, we know what is important. But, sometimes it takes putting it down in our journal to make our priorities clear and apparent.
Michael Hyatt writes a list of 7 benefits he has found in keeping a journal:
- Process previous events. What happens to me is not as important as the meaning I assign to what happens to me. Journaling helps me sort through my experience and be intentional about my interpretation.
- Clarify my thinking. Writing in general helps me disentangle my thoughts. Journaling takes it to a new level. Because I am not performing in front of a “live audience,” so to speak, I can really wrestle through the issues.
- Understand the context. Life is often happening so quickly I usually have little time to stop and reflect on where I am in the Bigger Story. Journaling helps me to discern the difference between the forest and the trees.
- Notice my feelings. I understand feelings aren’t everything, but they also aren’t nothing. The older I get, the more I try to pay attention to them. They are often an early indicator of something brewing.
- Connect with my heart. I’m not sure I can really explain this one, but journaling has helped me monitor the condition of my heart. Solomon said “above all else” we are to guard it (see Proverbs 4:23). It’s hard to do that when you lose touch with it.
- Record significant lessons. I’m a better student when I am taking notes. Writing things down leads to even deeper understanding and, I hope, wisdom. I want to write down what I learn, so I don’t have to re-learn it later.
- Ask important questions. A journal is not merely a repository for the lessons I am learning but also the questions I’m asking. If there’s one thing I have discovered, it’s the quality of my questions determine the quality of my answers.
What do you think of these lists? Do you journal? What kinds of things do you write down?
You can’t just pull down a box of journals without rifling through them. As I was looking through them I found some pretty sweet memories. I did a #journalpeek on instagram the other day where I showed the entry of the beginning of Willy and my relationship. Two years ago last week.
As I was going through those journals I was reminded just how much I doodle and write messages to myself in ways that would stand out to me. I took some photos and made a ghetto collage of some of them.
This makes looking back in them a lot funner for me!
Also, next week is the 2 year anniversary of Willy and my first date evar!
Last week I finished another journal. I pulled down my box of journals from my bedroom closet and was surprised at how heavy it was. As I looked through it I was struck by how many words I had written, how many thoughts and ideas I had captured on paper over the years. Each time period is identified by the style of journal. Spiral notebooks for my teenage years, covered in bright colours or patterns and Moleskines for the adult years. 27 in total.
You can see I like the colour pink.
Journaling has been a way for me to write out my thoughts and to privately capture what spills out of my insides. As an extrovert, it has become a way for me to process ideas, thoughts and emotions before they’re ready for public exposure. I was first inspired to keep a journal after my mom gave me one of hers as a young girl. I loved the idea that I was reading my mom’s thoughts from when she was a teenager, learning from lessons she had forgotten she had recorded. I wanted to do the same.
Sometimes I go back and read what I wrote and am surprised. I learned that already, cause I feel like I’m still learning that! I wrote that? Because it’s not half bad! It’s also encouraging to see how far I’ve come.
This summer I started one morning reflecting on how great it is that every day is new, waiting for me to write a new story. Every day is a fresh page. I don’t have to continue from the previous day, I can start all over again if I want to whether it’s in act or attitude.
Writing helps me have perspective, it helps me process and it helps me progress.
Are you a morning person? I am not. Then again, I’m not sure I’m an any time person. I don’t seem to have a most-efficient time of the day at all it seems. When I wake up in the morning, I’m usually groggy and grouchy, unless I supermagically have a really good sleep.
I recently listened to Michael Hyatt’s latest podcast which talks about maximizing productivity by having a good morning ritual. I’ve been thinking about this lately as my life schedule has changed significantly in the last two months. My husband has gone back to school, which happens to be almost all night classes. Most days during the week this means I see him for 45 minutes in the day if I don’t get up in good time in the morning. Those 45 minutes require me to be home from work at 5PM, which means if I want to put in a good work week I either need to leave earlier in the morning, or work in the evening after he’s gone. Both are OK options.
Since I’m trying to figure out how to maximize my productivity, live intentionally, I’m wondering: Can I force myself to be a morning person? Can I engineer my life/day so that I get used to getting up in the morning?
My components of a good day
There are a few things I’ve wanted to add to my life that I can never seem to make sure happen every day.
- Recently as I’ve started trying to run, I’ve found that after getting home and eating an early dinner with my husband before he heads off, the sun is almost already down making a run pretty uninviting! I’m looking at scheduling a morning run/exercise. Granted, soon the sun will be down in the early morning, too.
- The other thing that I need to make a priority in my morning is a time to pray, read my Bible, and journal. This is something I try to do every day, but if I don’t make time for it in the morning it’s so easy for busyness to take over and it not get done. When I don’t do this on a regular basis I find myself feeling unbalanced, with my focus on the wrong things.
- The third thing that I’ve noticed has helped me have a better day is taking the time to review my schedule and my goals for the day and week.
- Finally, spend time with my husband and my DayLight (during the winter). See this post.
Exercise, Center myself, See my husband, and Day Prep. Those appear to be my components of a good day. I have been trying this out for the last week and have been surprised at the results already. The DayLight is helping me wake up early, and this routine is helping me feel more ready for my day.
What about you? What is crucial for your morning routine?