Are you aiming to become more productive, more introspective, less stressed out and be generally happier? If you are, consistent journaling could be one of the most effective ways to achieve this. Hopefully these top 5 benefits of keeping a diary will inspire you to begin journaling!
Benefit #1: Self Reflection
Through consistently logging your actions, emotions and thoughts, you're able to gain a real insight into exactly who you are as an individual. Life can often pass us by at an incredible pace, therefore we sometimes don't get the chance to reflect on our achievements, our happiness and where we're heading.
And through repeatedly noting down your actions, emotions and thoughts in your diary, you can then examine whether your behaviour aligns with your values an goals. From there you can look at areas where you can improve upon.
To be able to self reflect, it is essential that you log everything effectively. This means diving into the 5 W's:
This means going into detail when noting down your experiences/thoughts and explaining it as best as you can.
By explaining your experiences and thoughts in detail, you're able to re-live certain moments when self reflecting.
Furthermore, you're able to gain a greater insight into your mind space/daily life at a particular point in your life.
This involves identifying the people who were involved in your experiences or the people who are influencing your thoughts or emotions.
The reason why this aspect is so important is it can help you to identify whether certain people were positively or negatively affecting your life and how they were doing that when you are self reflecting.
This is one of the most important areas when logging to be able to self reflect. You should be analysing exactly why you've been feeling a certain way or having particular thought patterns. This can be incredibly beneficial when self reflecting as you can see exactly why you were behaving the way you were at certain points of your life. Furthermore, by analysing the why in every situation, you can start to spot trends and patterns in your life; for example, you may note that on days where your diet is unhealthy, you feel fatigued and vice versa.
Another essential aspect to cover when logging is the where's of your thoughts, emotions and events.
By always noting down the location of your actions or feelings, you can begin to identify patterns; perhaps you find out that certain locations make you feel certain ways or certain locations inspire you to act in a different way. Again, this can be incredibly beneficial as it can serve as great insight into what inspires you.
Perhaps the most important area to cover when logging your thoughts, emotions and actions is the when.
Similar to the other area's, by noting down the time and date of you're thoughts, emotions and events, you can start to gain insight into any patterns of trends that start to emerge.
This can be incredibly useful to examine and analyse your cardician rhythm; maybe you find yourself with the most energy at 7am whilst feeling incredibly lethargic at 9pm and onwards. You can then use this information to schedule your activities and boost your productivity!
Benefit #2: Can Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Trying to keep all of your thoughts and feelings inside your head can be incredibly stressful; it can also make it incredibly hard to deal with them as you may find yourself constantly getting distracted. By writing down all your thoughts, emotions and actions in detail, you can provide yourself with abit of mental clarity.
Furthermore, you can use your diary to record your stress levels by writing about whatever is stressing you out.
For example, by writing about whatever is stressing you out, you can gain insight into:
- How often you're feeling stressed out
- What is causing you to feel stressed out
- If there are any patterns or trends in your stress levels
Again, it's important to log down these stressful events in enough detail so that you can properly analyse it. This includes logging:
- The time and date
- What happened
- How you were feeling
- Your thoughts
- Your reaction
- Your surrounding
From there, you can examine, analyse and deal with your stresses.
Another way that utilising a diary can minimise stress is through keeping a gratitude log within your diary or noting down some of the enjoyable activities that you've experienced or you're looking forward to.
Sometimes we may feel like our lives do not compare to the lives of others due to social media only showing highlights of their best moments; by logging everything you're grateful for, it can be a great reminder of how much you do have in your life and how lucky you are.
Not only does regular journaling reduce your stress and anxiety levels, research conducted by the University of Rochester Medical Centre has shown it can boost your overall mood and happiness.
This is because:
- Journaling can provide a safe space for you to express your concerns and private thoughts
- Journaling can help you to address fears and problems
- Journaling can help you to identify the causes of your positive emotions and negative emotions
Benefit #3: Improves your Time Management
Another key benefit of keeping a diary is your time management skills are bound to improve.
By noting down your commitments and daily actions, you can easily start to identify time periods where you are not doing anything. From there you can start to use this time for any tasks that you need to complete or work on achieving your goals.
On the flip side, if you feel like you're overworking and burning yourself out, you can identify tasks which could be delegated or eliminated and free up some time to spend relaxing or with some loved ones.
Additionally, a study conducted by Minot State University found that those who manage their time benefit from being happier; this is not just because of their increased productivity but also because of the sense of control it can give you over your daily life.
Furthermore, time management can help to ensure that you're getting a healthy work-life balance. Often we can easily start to overwork and neglect our loved ones and hobbies; but by keeping a track of our activities, we can make sure that we are getting a healthy balance in our lives.
To manage your time as effectively as possible, try to do the following:
- Note down the deadlines of any tasks, goals, etc
- Note down the importance of any tasks
- Note down exactly what needs to be done in detail
By taking these steps, you can get your tasks done whilst still leaving time to relax and spend time doing the things you like.
Benefit #4: Improves your Memory
One amazing benefit of consistent journaling is it helps to keep our brains sharp.
By consistently logging our thoughts, emotions and experiences in our diary we are interacting and exploring our own memories. This helps to slow down cognitive decline as it means we're constantly using our memory to reflect on past experiences therefore we're keeping the mind sharp instead of rarely utilising it and thus not keeping the mind sharp.
Similarly, various studies have found that consistent journaling not only boosts your memory but also has cognitive benefits such as:
- Increasing working memory capacity
- Improving comprehension
- Improved cognitive processing
For example, a study conducted by Klein and Boals explored how writing about stressful events influenced the working memory of 70 undergraduate students. They found that those who wrote in detail and with emotion showed improvements in their working memory in as little as a few weeks.
Some of the reasons why journaling has such amazing benefits on our cognitive performance include:
- you're focusing on a singular task without any distractions
- you're making deeper connections with your own memories
- you're consistently exercising your brain
Benefit #5: Improve Immune Function
One of the most unexpected benefits of consistent journaling is it has been shown to improve immune function. I know it sounds far fetched but it's not like only one study has shown this, multiple studies have found that constant journaling improves immune function.
Some of the benefits of journaling on overall health include:
- Improving the symptoms of asthma
- Improving the symptoms of arthritis
- Improving the symptoms of sleep disorders
- Improves liver function
- Improves lung function
In one particular study, researchers divided the participants into two groups; one group was asked to log their daily activities, thoughts and emotions in detail daily whilst the other was just asked to log their activities in a simple manner.
They were then given a vaccine and the researchers examined how the two groups reacted. Astoundingly the group who were journaling in detail reacted in a much better manner to the vaccine due to them having higher antibodies.,
The researchers concluded that regular in-depth journaling could make an important difference for people who are immune-compromised or for vaccines that don't stimulate the immune system as well.
I hope that some of these scientifically proven benefits of keeping a diary will inspire you to begin journaling; not just to boost your productivity levels, but to improve your overall health and mood. Remember, starting a habit such as journaling is always hard at first; but it will certainly start to get easier over time, until it becomes second nature. All the best on your journaling journey!