Journaling More Than Just A Dear Diary

Every little girl had a diary growing up. It was where they would write their deepest, darkest secrets—like which boy they had a crush on, or
what drama was unfolding at the middle school lunch table. This diary was often discarded during adolescence when the writer felt too “mature” for a diary. Or perhaps when they were faced with societal pressure to stop writing in it. It’s a shame that diaries fell out of style because writing down thoughts and feelings is actually a great way to help people understand their emotions, work through difficult times in their lives, and heal from trauma.
The adult version for writing in a diary is called “journaling.” When journaling, people are encouraged to write about the experiences, the thoughts, and the feelings that are coming up for them. This lets the individual reflect privately on their feelings, which can help a person
identify and express their emotions in a healthy way. Writing is a process that encourages people to honestly express what’s going on inside—the good, the bad, and the ugly—without judgment. It pushes people to confront their reactions and perceptions to the world around them, which can lead to individuals having a greater understanding of themselves and their emotional health.
So who exactly is journaling for, and who would benefit most from journaling? The short answer is that everyone can benefit from journaling. It is a good tool for anyone to reflect on their emotions and fully process their situations.
The longer answer is that there are some individuals that would benefit more from journaling than others. Journaling is especially great for people with PTSD, depression, anxiety, or other mental health diagnoses. It can also really help people going through periods of change in their lives, like unemployment, breakups, the death of a loved one, or other generally stressful life events.
Journaling isn’t just some “hippy-dippy” idea for understanding
emotions; it has real, scientific research to back up its
effectiveness. One study found that writing down thoughts,
feelings, and emotions about a difficult situation for 20 minutes a
day, four days in a row led to an increase in emotional health, as
well as more long-term effects like an increased immune system function
(Source: Pennebaker JW. Writing about emotional experiences as
a therapeutic process. Psychol Sci. 1997;8(3):162-166.). An
article written in 2013 found that journaling for individuals with Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder was just as effective as other types
of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Source: van Emmerik AA, Reijntjes
A Kamphuis JH. Writing therapy for posttraumatic stress: a meta-analysis.
Psychother Psychosom. 2013;82(2):82-88.). This data shows that there is a real benefit to journaling. It can be a cheap and easy way to benefit an individual’s emotional health Journaling is more than just writing about life experiences—it’s about exploring the thoughts and feelings that arise in our day-to-day lives. It helps people identify and understand their emotions while bringing clarity about whatever stressful situation is happening
in that person’s life. It is a cheap and easy therapeutic technique that individuals can do anytime, anywhere. So, give it a shot—pick up a notebook and write about your feelings. What’s the worst thing that could happen? A notebook and pen cost $2 but the benefits you get from journaling are priceless.
By Daryn Green
Kudos Magazine Volume 5.1