What Can Journaling Do For You?

What happens to all of those brilliant ideas and epiphanies we think up, but forgot to write down, and now we can’t remember?

Most often, the innovative and remarkable ideas we come up with are placed in the deepest depths of our minds, never having the chance to be shared nor expressed. Earl Nightingale spoke about this pretty often, but there is one thing he said which should not be forgotten.

“Don’t die with your music still in you.”

In practicing the art of writing, I’ve come to the realization that majority of our knowledge, talents, feelings (especially those we are unaware of) our beliefs, as well as our greatest ideas, are stored in parts of the mind that are rarely accessed.

When we seek to explore these depths, we learn a considerable amount about ourselves and those around us. There are countless ways to do this. Picking up artistic hobbies like painting, pottery making, wire wrapping, and my favorite- writing, are all great ways to explore the depths of our minds.

Writing is not to be viewed as a mundane, boring task, nor is it meant to seem like a chore. I do not encourage writing if it is something an individual doesn’t enjoy, but it can always be turned into an activity which is looked forward to if we find the right topics.

In scientific research, writing has proven to be extremely beneficial to the mental and physical health of an individual. A study done in 1986 by Pennebaker & Beall demonstrated that writing about emotional events resulted in a decreased amount of physician visits and less frequent dosages of aspirin, and another study by Smyth, Hockmeyer, and Tullock (2008) showed decreases in negative mood states.

The method they utilize in these studies is called “expressive writing” and has consistently been proven to have countless positive impacts on the mental, emotional, and physical health of an individual. These studies have included people of all ages, genders, races, and intellectuality levels. This makes it clear that expressive writing can benefit anyone.

The original version of expressive writing used in earlier studies was done by writing for 15 minutes a day (4 or 5 days a week) about the most traumatic experience an individual has endured, exploring any aspect that comes to the writers mind. Participants would write as much as possible about that experience for the next 15 minutes, exploring their emotions & making connections, touching on any aspects of the experience they felt needed to be included.

It goes without saying… not everyone is comfortable with revisiting traumatic events in this way.

As the studies on expressive writing have evolved, so has the expressive writing method itself. Instead of focusing on a singular traumatic experience, scientists now have participants write about general emotional events or a major event the participant found important. In this method, there are countless stories for participants to write about. Still doing so for 15-30 minutes a day, 4 or 5 days a week, exploring aspects of the event that the individual feels necessary.

The results of previous & ongoing studies continuously demonstrates how expressive writing can be an exceptionally favorable channel for managing emotions and trauma.

The writing I do isn’t always expressive, but I still find that it’s contributed to the betterment of my overall health, and it brings me closer to fulfilling my goals. I have two journals that I carry with me everywhere. The first one I use to take notes on whatever educational videos or books I indulge in that correlate with my favorite topics. The second journal I use for my finances & investment tracking, as well as for my blog drafts and social media ideas.

These journals keep me in the right frequency & serve as daily reminders that I am always expanding, growing, and learning. They remind me of my goals & where I am headed.

For anyone who has the urge to begin journaling & note taking, there are some very cool options out there. (Bullet Journal has an awesome format for any newbies who like organization! )

In beginning journaling, artists & entrepreneurs give themselves the opportunity to write down their unique ideas, personal observations, feelings and emotions, beliefs and paradigms, as well as miscellaneous content that contributes to their knowledge & health.

What successful person do you know that doesn’t have a journal or planner to keep their life and thoughts in order? Even if they don’t, they probably use their cellphone, & that works too! If using your cellphone makes this easier for you, it is highly encouraged.

To check out the studies mentioned, you can find them in “The Oxford Handbook of Health Psychology.” (Chapter 18 Expressive Writing: Connections to Physical and Mental Health)

There are hundreds of studies out there which have proved writing to be outrageously supportive to the health of the human brain & body. Instead of letting your epiphanies and ideas slip away, jot them in your journal & take action.

Share this post & get to journaling! You have no idea how many great ideas you might have just dying to be written down.

– xo, G.

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