We often hear about the benefits of journaling, which include boosting your memory and expanding your IQ, but did you know that keeping a journal can also help with self-care?
Between balancing our jobs, social lives, and sometimes even kids, it can be easy to forget to take care of ourselves. That’s why making journaling a daily practice is one of the simplest ways to put yourself first.
Here are five ways a journal can help with self-care:
1. It can boost your self-esteem.
This makes perfect sense considering a journal is a great way to document all your feel-good memories. By documenting the positive things in your life, you can then revisit them any time you need a boost in confidence.
Journals also boost self-esteem because they act as a record of your accomplishments and help you set personal goals. By tracking your progress, you can see your self-growth and feel good about how far you’ve come.
2. It carves out some much-needed “me time.”
In our social media world, it can be hard to unplug. But if you make journaling part of your daily routine, it can serve as the perfect excuse to get away from tech and focus on yourself.
Carving out alone time has a myriad of benefits, according to an infographic created by Happify. Not only does it help you unwind, but is also reboots your brain, allows you time for deep thinking, and can help enhance your relationships (absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?).
Another reason journaling is a great excuse to unplug is because social media doesn’t do us any favours when it comes to our moods. In fact, a 2013 study found that one in three people actually feel worse after visiting Facebook because other people’s posts make them feel dissatisfied with their own lives.
3. It can relieve stress and reduce anxiety.
Keeping your thoughts and feelings bottled up is one way to create unnecessary stress, which is why keeping a journal is an easy solution. Not only will writing out your feelings help you work through your problems, but it will allow you to look at the situation objectively.
A 2011 study published in the journal Science proved this by comparing students who wrote down their exam worries before taking the big test and those who didn’t. What they discovered was that those who used a journal were better able to ease their anxieties.
“It might be counterintuitive, but it's almost as if you empty the fears out of your mind,” said researcher Sian Beilock, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Chicago. “You reassess that situation so that you're not as likely to worry about those situations because you've slain that beast.”
4. It increases creativity, which can make you happier.
Just like painting, dancing, and singing, journaling is a form of art and practicing it daily can increase your creativity. But what does this have to do with self-care? Studies show that being creative can actually make you happier.
“Imagining and creating give us a sense of purpose,” Tony Wagner, Expert In Residence at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab, told CNN.
Maintaining a positive mood can also help us be more open-minded. Psychologist Dr. Shelley Carson told Greatist, “Increases in positive mood broaden attention and allow us to see more possible solutions to creative problems.”
5. It can help you let go of things and move on.
Finding self-acceptance is no easy task, but a journal can help you get there. This is because journals let you get to know yourself in a safe space. At the same time, the act of journaling forces you to reflect on yourself and your life as you work through your thoughts. Writer Deborah Robbins can attest to this.
In a post for The Mighty, Robbins revealed that journaling for 30 days helped her accept her complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) diagnosis.
“The 30-day challenge forced me to look at my life and realize what is really important,” she wrote last month. “It doesn’t matter what diagnosis the doctor throws my way, what challenges I face on a daily basis, or what I am no longer able to do. What matters is that I take the life I have, challenges and all, and I step up as a warrior and choose to own it.”