Journaling is a practice that you may have started in your childhood years, perhaps scribbling in your secret diary or carefully writing down daily occurrences. Documenting your life experiences, from your first crush to your first panic attack, is cathartic, and implementing a regular journaling sesh can help reduce stress and manage anxiety (via University of Rochester). A helpful tool for hashing out emotions, working through challenges, and organizing your life, once you begin journaling, you may wonder how you ever got along without it.
Sumera Shahaney, MD, Head of Clinical Operations at health tracking app Thriva tells Bustle that journaling “helps you develop order and connect with inner thoughts in a safe environment so you can work out what really matters.” A 2017 study, “Frontiers for Psychology,” suggests that putting pen to paper helps the brain process emotion (via National Center for Biotechnology Information).
One study out of the Arak University of Medical Sciences found that daily journaling supported a decrease in anxiety in women living with multiple sclerosis, and another study, via PubMed, suggests that journaling can quicken the recovery of people with psychiatric conditions. In addition to improving mental health, Bustle reports that journaling can also benefit your brain in ways that might surprise you.
Journaling boosts your brain health
According to Psych Central, journaling can create positive physical changes, like reducing the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, and the brain gets a boost for adopting the daily diary habit. Expressive writing, even if for only 20 minutes, is said to reduce intrusive thoughts and improve working memory (via American Psychological Association).
Writing regularly, whether it’s about your feelings, goals, or life events, can improve your cognitive function. Neurologist and author Judy Willis states that, “The practice of writing can enhance the brain’s intake, processing, retaining, and retrieving of information … it promotes the brain’s attentive focus … boosts long-term memory, illuminates patterns, gives the brain time for reflection, and when well-guided, is a source of conceptual development and stimulus of the brain’s highest cognition,” (via Edutopia).
While you may be tempted to use your phone or tablet to begin your journaling journey, a study out of the University of Tokyo suggests that writing on paper strengthens brain activity (via Neuroscience News). Of course, just starting the process will benefit your overall health, whether it’s in a new book donning your fave inspirational quote on the cover, or a specialty app on your phone.
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