I hereby declare the 12th of June World Journal Day in honour of Anne Frank’s birthday. Journal Day is officially a thing–at least in my little corner of the blogosphere, and you heard it first here at Spilling Ink.
On this day in 1943, Anne Frank received the diary that became The Diary of a Young Girl, so in Anne’s honour, I have a super-cute Kiki.K journal and pen set you can win. Read to the bottom of the post for details.
To kick off the giddy World Journal Day celebrations, I’m sharing some of the benefits of journalling. It turns out writing in a journal is good for your soul–and a whole lot more! Did you know keeping a journal benefits you physically, mentally, and spiritually? Researchers have spent decades unpicking the hows and whys. Here are a few to ponder.
I’ve known for years that journalling makes me feel better, but I had no idea that the benefits were so powerful. Various researchers have discovered journalling has positive effects on the symptoms of asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and even HIV/AIDS.
Another study found writing expressively improves liver and lung function, reduces blood pressure, and can shorten hospital stays–and more. They list 16 benefits to well-being!
Other research links journalling to improved immune function. University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker has been studying the health advantages of writing since the mid-80s. “…research by Pennebaker indicates that suppressing negative, trauma-related thoughts compromises immune functioning and that those who write visit the doctor less often.”
Dr Pennebaker told Psychology Today, “When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experienced improved health. They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function. If they are first-year college students, their grades tend to go up.”
There you have it, students! Journalling is not only good for your body; it’s good for your grades!
Some researchers are quick to point out that rehashing trauma and negativity isn’t as helpful as writing through the events. Journalling that documents growth and transformation seems to be the most helpful. Finding the story is the key! (Sounds like good practice for writers.)
Still skeptical about the power of journalling and writing? Here’s a study that will blow your mind: Researchers have shown the act of writing affectionately about someone can lower cholesterol levels! I’d love to see someone explain the mechanism behind that one!
Any regular journaller will tell you the practice helps them manage stress and navigate difficulties. Some people use journalling as a sleep aid–I do. I find journalling helps me “empty” my busy mind before I turn out the lights. It’s as if downloading the worries frees my mind of the burden of care, thus allowing me to sleep.
A journal provides a safe space to make sense of the things we go through. Even the effects of trauma and the intensity of emotions can be reduced when we can find the story thread in events. Psychology Today reports:
In a different but related theory, the ability to construct a story from our experiences may give us the opportunity to detach ourselves and approach our situation more objectively. Stories may also be better stored in the brain as memories, rather than what may otherwise be a random amalgamation of strong emotions.”
Journalling can be a form of meditation, the new buzz word in well-being management. Writing and Mindfulness dovetail nicely, and both practices are good for your soul. Plenty of creatives, myself included, have found that writing in a journal helps shift stuckness and stagnation. It lets me move past self-doubt and other internal hindrances and frees up creativity.
Writer Natalie Goldberg advocates free writing in her timeless writing book Writing Down the Bones. Free writing is a perfect form of writing in journals–without censors, without an audience, just being present. It’s good for your soul and great for your creativity.
Many major religions link gratitude with spiritual growth and well-being. Researchers can now prove the benefits of practising an attitude of gratitude through writing. One study found that gratitude journalling reduces stress, materialism and negative self-comparisons.
Journalling helps you:
- Find clarity and focus
- Improve self-awareness
- Identify unhelpful thinking patterns
- Practise positive self-talk
- Process challenging events
Here’s a link to a huge list of journalling prompts–enough to keep you writing for half the year.
Win! Win! Win!
To celebrate Anne’s birthday and Spilling Ink‘s inaugural World Journal Day, I have one lovely Kiki.K journal to give away. It’s an A5 bonded leather journal in “Why-Not Pink.” (Click the link for a sneaky-peek.) The matching pen features the words “Life is Sweet” in curly script.
To be in the running to win, “like” this post or leave a comment about how journalling helps you. (Winner selected in a random draw on 14 June 2015.)
Happy World Journal Day! Here’s to your health and your soul!
Anne Frank Street Art by TIA, CC
Drat 172.365 by Jessica Wilson, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Writing in the Journal by Erin Kohlenberg, CC BY 2.0