I’ve been a big believer in journaling ever since I was 10 and had to keep really strange journals in between therapy appointments to help my family, school, and therapist tried to figure out why I kept sneaking off during school hours. Every time I acted up I’d have to immediately sit down and write down all my feelings to give everyone a better insight into what was troubling me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but in retrospect they were giving me the ultimate tool to understanding myself.
The mind is tricky, and why we may feel a particular way in an instant, it can be challenging for us to understand why we feel the way we do. Journaling, as I later discovered in my life, is recommended to people for a variety of reasons, far beyond just trying to help you process why you’re ripping out your eyelashes. Not only does journaling have health benefits, but it actually allows you to have a deep sense of peace of mind.
Even if you’re just jotting down a few notes every day, here are 6 reasons why everyone should be journaling.
1. It Helps With Memory
Even if you’re not going back and rereading your entries once a year, just by making the conscious effort to remember everything you did throughout the day forces your brain to take in small details. While this may seem obvious, going through your day when it’s already over helps your brain process and solidify your memories.
2. It Helps You Process Those Memories
Furthermore, writing down the day’s events in a journal helps you see how they’re all interconnected and flow into one another. Oftentimes we process things individually, like they’re happening to us in a vacuum. This approach prevents us from understanding what we could’ve done differently to produce a better outcome. Writing down our daily actions demonstrates to ourselves how action becomes consequence, and teaches us how we can avoid bad situations in the future.
3. It Shows You Other Perspectives
Journaling helps you process your memories linearly, allowing you to remove yourself from them and understand how another person could have seen the situation differently. It’s a lot like having a map in front of you, once you see all the moving pieces you’re able to see where people took a wrong turn. This boosts your empathy and understanding, because you’ll not only realize how your perspective shapes a situation, you’ll realize how everyone else’s does as well.
4. It Allows You To See Your Growth
Do you ever see a picture of yourself and think, “Wow, thank goodness I outgrew that!” Well, journaling is essentially the same thing except you’re able to see how you’ve emotionally grown instead of just physically. Reading old journal entries helps you see how your perspective has changed. You may be furious at a friend in an entry from high school, but the present “you” may not understand why the old you was so upset. It gives you a window into the person you used to be and gives you a better sense of who you want to be.
5. It’s Calming
Any motor function that’s repetitive will eventually end up calming you. While writing in your journal you’re focusing on a series of thoughts that you have to work through from beginning to end. This keeps our minds from wandering and fixating on our other worries, fretting about the future, or anything else we do to give ourselves anxiety. Ask anyone who’s journaled and chances are they’ll say just the mere act has become therapeutic for them.
6. It Gives You Closure
At the end of the day we need to process memories and experiences completely in order to find closure in them. So whether you’re writing to try to make sense or a tragedy or you just want to journal about your current heartbreak to track the progress you’re making, you’re going to get there. The catharsis you feel when you finish will help you move on from whatever is troubling you. We may not remember how much something hurt us 20 years down the line, but a journal entry will allow you to understand how human you were in the moment you felt those feelings.