In today’s world we all have problems we don’t want to talk about. Issues at work, with family, friends, spouses, etc., or traumatic experiences from our childhood, It’s great to go to therapy, but not everyone can afford to or they don’t want to talk about their private problems with another person. In waltzes journaling. A simple, private practice that has surprising mental health benefits. Today I’ll help you discover the science based benefits of journaling.
I’ll spare you reading the scientific data from PubMed Central®’s (a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine) article: Writing Therapy: a new tool for general practice? (general practice refers to general practice doctors) and summarize what they say in an easier form to digest.
Let’s discover the science based benefits of journaling
PubMed uses fancy names for journaling like writing therapy, writing disclosure, and expressive writing. They say when you write about a traumatic or challenging experience, not only does it “get it off your chest,” but you may find meaning in the experience, which leads to healing. Here are some of the amazing medical benefits from the article:
Reduced blood pressure.
Reduced anxiety and depression in people with repetitive negative thinking.
Improved physical symptoms and reduced healthcare visits in people with colorectal, breast, or prostate cancer.
Improved walking speeds and decreased pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Reduced disease severity in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.
Journaling through anxiety, depression and breast cancer
I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression throughout my life. Journaling has helped me feel calmer, focused and content. It is a time to reflect on my problems and come up with better solutions and I also pay more attention to my environment and listen better.
Journaling was a life saver during my breast cancer treatment. I was on leave from work and the depression was sinking in. I dumped all my chemo symptoms out on the page: nausea, fatigue, boredom, losing my hair. It was hard to find people who really wanted to talk about cancer (it makes people really uncomfortable) so journaling was a life saver.
Journaling through trauma
Journaling about my traumatic experiences, helps me gain perspective and heal. Before, when someone raged to manipulate me, I’d internalize it or rage back, but now I’m on team Kathy 🙂 and I act out of respect for myself and others.
For example, at this year’s family reunion my brother raged at me for 30 minutes over a minor misunderstanding– I thought it was his night to help cook, and it was my other brother’s. I’d asked him to help and the next thing I know he’s wagging his finger at me and throwing the F-bomb everywhere. I was forced to put up with his abuse because I was in his car. But, because of the clarity I get from journaling, it didn’t take me long to figure out his rage was completely inappropriate and was about him and not me.
Journaling about manipulative relationships helps me identify them quickly and get out of the situation. I drew a boundary and stayed away from my brother for the rest of the reunion. I refuse to be around manipulative people who use rage to control others. Like I said — team Kathy gets my vote.
Journaling is a healthy way to express yourself
Journaling for Mental Health, from the University of Rochester Medical Center is another science based article. It relates how when you’re on emotional overwhelm, journaling is a healthy way to express yourself. Here are some benefits from the article:
Cope with depression.
Prioritize problems, fears and concerns.
You can write out all those negative thoughts and write positive ones to replace them.
You can take a look at what things trigger you and plan ways to control them.
Journaling allows you to write down your thoughts, whatever they may be, in private, without anyone judging you.
Julia Cameron and three pages a day
Julia Cameron wrote a book called The Artist’s Way and she recommends writing “three pages a day.” I’d gotten out of the habit of journaling. Then, about 15 years ago I stumbled on her book. Journaling got me back in touch with what was important to me. It was not long after that I left my abusive marriage. You can absolutely figure things out on the page.
It’s a simple practice
She refers to the “three pages a day” as the morning pages and it’s a simple practice. You set aside time in the morning to write 3 pages of whatever’s on your mind. I use a pen and an inexpensive composition notebook (I like the ones with sparkling colors, but you can choose whatever you like). Watch this 2 minute video on Julia’s website Juliacameronlive.com about morning pages. It’s definitely worth a listen, but I’ll also give you a summary of what she says.
She explains the pages are a way to clear your mind before you start your day. Maybe you’re worried about mundane things like taking out the garbage or buying dog food. Write it down. You may want to whine, cry, laugh, celebrate, plan, or think how angry you are at your significant other. Write it down. Maybe you’re worried about something at work or one of your kids. Write it down. I love how she explains that the pages are like meeting your shadow and taking it out for coffee. It’s like dusting off the dark corners of your psyche and opening up the way for more creativity and inspiration.
The PubMed article points out that not only does journaling have awesome medical benefits — it’s cheap. You don’t need extra doctor’s appointments and you don’t have to take a pill. You just need a journal or notebook (amazon has a huge variety) and a pen (some people may want to use their computer’s — that’s okay too) I usually set aside 10-15 minutes in the morning. I’ll confess — I don’t do it everyday, but I do it most days.
Okay – review time
I hope I’ve helped you to discover the science behind the benefits of journaling and I hope I’ve inspired you to start your own practice. Here are highlights from today’s post:
Journaling takes 10-20 minutes a day.
You don’t need to go to the doctor to have it assessed.
No medication required.
Helps reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
Lowers blood pressure.
It’s private so you can write anything you want.
It’s helps you sort out problems and come up with solutions.
You can write positive thoughts to replace negative ones.
You can write about traumatic experiences, and possibly heal from them.
I’ll leave you with a quote to inspire you even more:
I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I write and I understand. Chinese Proverb
Until next week. Give journaling a try. You’re worth it.
Be sure and leave a comment and tell me about your experiences journaling. I love to hear about other’s journeys. Or if you like you can:
From my pen✍️ to your heart ❤️ — Kathy