According to science there are significant reasons why we should still keep writing in our journal. You might be thinking that with our advanced smartphones and technology, why would you still keep a physical journal?
Well, study shows that the mere act of writing our compelling thoughts and feelings is beneficial not only to our mental well-being, but as well as to our physical wellness.
For starters, study shows that keeping a journal heals physical wounds faster. In a controlled study conducted by Heidi Koschwanez and company last 2013, adults aged 64 to 97 years old were tasked to allot at least 20 minutes of expressive writing in a journal for 3 consecutive days. 2 weeks after, 4-mm punch of biopsy wounds were inflicted on their inner and upper arms.
Eleven days later, 76% of those who practiced expressive journal writing were completely healed. On the other hand, more than half of those who did not belong on the former participants failed to recover within 11 days.
Although further research is needed for better understanding of how psychosocial mechanisms affect our biological mechanisms, still, this research supports previous studies about the physical healing power of expressive writing.
According to Dr. Japes Pennebaker of Writing to Heal and a researcher in University of Texas, writing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a journal also improves your immune system.
This is due to the reason that expressive writing unclogs our body of emotional blockages such as anxiety and over thinking, which are source of stress. Basically, keeping a journal helps in eliminating mental and physical stress, which boosts our immune system and keeps us protected from chronic diseases.
As per psychotherapist and journal expert, Maud Purcell, keeping a journal helps one have better understanding of life. The act of journal writing accesses and activates the left hemisphere area of our brain. This touches our analytical and rational thinking skills, which processes and helps us understand our thoughts, feelings, and both pleasant and unpleasant experiences we are having in our lives.
At the same time, our right brain hemisphere is free to create, appreciate, and feel, allowing us to optimize our brain power which in turn, enhances better processing and comprehension of life.
In a book authored by psychotherapist, Kathleen Adams, it is noted that journal writing helps one be engaged and in control of one’s thoughts. Documenting your thoughts, feelings, and experiences help you learn more about yourself.
By recognizing your inner desires and needs, disheartening lessons in life, frustrations and anxieties, you are allowing yourself to discern how to respond consciously and take charge of these feelings. This also gives you more time to reflect on the consequences of our action, which helps you truly learn from your experiences.
Study also shows that keeping a journal enhances one’s Intelligence. University of Victoria reported that ‘writing as part of language learning has a positive correlation with intelligence.’ In the quest to find the right words to reflect our insights and experiences, writing in a journal increases a person’s vocabulary and diction. And one of the best and simplest measure of one’s intelligence lies in his vast vocabulary and impeccable comprehension.
According to psychologists, keeping a journal helps you turn your dreams into realities. It is not surprising that in keeping a written track of our thoughts, feelings, and experiences, there will be a time that you will find yourself scribbling your ambitions in life. And although jotting down your goals won’t magically help you reach the finish line, still, it serves as a blueprint and a guide in achieving our dreams.
Writing down what you are aiming to achieve sends signals to your brain that it is of importance. It helps your reticular activating system, or your complex connection of brain stem network, to recognize and mark chances and opportunities to achieve the goal you have written down.
Lastly, keeping a journal helps you believe in your abilities. As advised by Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, writing down positive experiences helps your brain to relinquish this pleasant experiences. This is very helpful during tough times, especially when you are having doubts and second thoughts about yourself.
Looking at the reminder of your small and big achievement, victories, and successes, release endorphins and dopamine, which boosts your self confidence and uplifts your mood.
With all of these wonderful holistic wellness mentioned above, I see no reason why you would not take advantage of keeping a journal. After all what is 20 minutes of your 24 hours in exchange of enjoying the physical and psychological health advantages of writing a journal?
To cap it off, as per Rand Olson, there is no wonderful pathway to self-awareness but journal writing!