February 13, 2020
Many of us barely have time to answer our emails or call our best friends on a typical, jam-packed weekday, so communicating our own thoughts in a diary or journal may seem like a self-centered waste of time.
We rationalize, “Writing a few sentences in a journal may keep me healthier longer, but so will eating Brussels sprouts! Why should I bother journaling when I’ve already got too much on my plate already?”
However, according to a report by PsychCentral, researchers have found that journaling provide unexpected benefits. The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit, and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others, and the world around you.
According to PsychCentral, once you start, you may find that you are able to:
- Clarify your thoughts and feelings. Are you ever 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. If you write routinely, you will start to recognize what makes you feel happy and confident. You also will begin to realize whicht situations and people are toxic for you — important information for your emotional well-being.
- Reduce stress. Writing about anger, sadness, and other painful emotions helps a person to release the intensity of these feelings. By doing so you will feel calmer and better able to be “present” in your life..
- 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 to arrive at unexpected solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.
- Resolve disagreements with others. Writing about misunderstandings rather than stewing over them will help you to understand another person’s point of view. And you just may come up with a sensible resolution to the conflict.
In addition, keeping a journal allows you to track patterns, trends, and growth over time. When current circumstances appear insurmountable, you will be able to look back on previous problems that you have since resolved.
So how should you start? Your journaling will be most effective if you do it daily for about 20 minutes. Begin anywhere, and forget spelling and punctuation. Privacy is key if you are to write without censoring yourself. Write quickly, as this frees your brain from “shoulds” and other blocks to successful journaling. If it helps, pick a theme for the day, week, or month (for example, peace of mind, confusion, change, or anger).
The most important rule of all is that there are no rules. Through your writing you’ll discover that your journal is an all-accepting, nonjudgmental friend. And ity provide the cheapest therapy you will ever get.
Research contact: @PsychCentral