The art of journaling—often mistaken as 'diary writing'—lends far-reaching emotional benefits while helping you gain deep insight into your tangled thoughts. Paving the way for personal growth, development, and well-being, journaling aids learning; learning about your own self. And as they say, knowledge is power.
We got in touch with psychologist Urveez Kakalia, Founder, ImPerfect, to understand the scientific benefits behind the practice of journaling.
A Reflective Stance Guiding Self-Awareness
"When one is able to move to a more reflective stance—from simply a descriptive stance while journaling—the writer gains insight, knowledge, and a greater degree of awareness about themselves," explains Urveez. Journaling encourages the writer to view their experiences from a range of perspectives and obtain a deeper, more multi-faceted understanding of the matter. This allows one to make sense and attach meaning to their experiences, known as sense-making and meaning-making.
A Realistic Reflection of One's Life
Human beings have the propensity to remember their lives and recall past experiences in a negative light. Journal entries allow one to go back and make a realistic evaluation of the lives that they have lived. One may come across a plethora of insight and valuable ideas in their past journal entries. Additionally, it helps people validate, own, and accept their true, unique selves.
In journaling, an emotional release is experienced via the expression of one’s thoughts, feelings, and consequent interpretations about the same. This, however, isn't limited to negative emotions alone. "The expression of positive emotions can have a powerful effect on one's psyche. Plus, it allows a person to become more accepting and comfortable with their own emotions—especially since individuals are socialized to believe that communicating their emotions is a sign of weakness," she adds.
Being in the Moment
People often tend to pen down experiences that have already passed. However, journaling can help you be more alive in the present moment. Journaling helps you deeply connect with your experiences. When one jots down the happenings in their life, they get an opportunity to process it—with greater clarity, and in retrospect—in the present moment.
Overall Mental Well-Being
Research lends evidence that journaling can help prompt favourable immune responses—decreasing the intensity of an illness, both mental and physical. "Journaling can make an important difference for those who are immune-compromised, or for vaccines that don't stimulate the immune system well. Journaling also has the potential to boost our immune system once we've been infected with a virus," informs Kira Newman for UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center.
Therapeutic, Yet Not a Substitute to Therapy
According to Urveez, no single activity can serve as a substitute for psychotherapy. Yet, certain activities can possess and offer a therapeutic effect—and journaling happens to be one such activity. "It pushes one to establish a non-judgemental atmosphere of observation, listening, acceptance, and patience, for oneself." Most people who journal daily have found that it has a positive impact on their routine.
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