The idea of keeping a journal may remind you of the cheesy stereotypes from Sweet Valley High or even the scepticism of The Wimpy Kid. However, as tacky as "Dear diary…" sounds, it certainly shouldn't be reserved for the high-school girls or awkward recluse.
While you don't have to start your journal entry with that phrase (or do it if you want to – no judgments), maintaining a daily journal has some profound benefits – some of which are even advocated by scientists. If you don't already keep a journal, here are some benefits of journaling that will make you buy a notebook and start writing now.
Perhaps the most instant and apparent benefits you experience as you start jotting down your thoughts is a reduction in your stress levels. All the anxieties, pains, and frustrations you experience get accumulated in your brain over time. Writing down your feelings can help you do a brain dump and reduce and release the accumulated stress.
A great way to do this is by practising morning pages. This is where you write in a stream of consciousness first thing in the morning while trying not to filter out your thoughts. However, there are many types of journaling you can practice, and all of them help reduce stress. So just do whatever works best for you.
The aforementioned morning pages have also become a popular practice for people looking to unlock their creativity. The issue with most people who struggle with being creative isn't a lack of creativity per se. Instead, it is the manner in which they let it flow. Simply writing without thinking is one of the best ways to overcome writer's block, as it can bring your ideas that you otherwise may not even have known you had. Even if the idea is not relevant to your current writer's block, it will get your thoughts running to get you writing again.
However, these benefits aren't just limited to writing. Just writing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can significantly loosen your expressive muscles. These benefits then seep into all almost all aspects of your life that require creativity or thinking out of the box.
This may come as a shock, but journaling can actually benefit your IQ levels. It was noted in a report by the University of Victoria that, "Writing as part of language learning has a positive correlation with intelligence."
Without even putting much effort, journaling can increase your vocabulary since you'll have a natural urge to search for new words. In fact, it is one of the best ways to explore a language. As the report further stated, "One of the best single measures of overall intelligence, as measured by intelligence tests, is vocabulary."
Boosts Emotional Intelligence
We are so caught up in being book smart and increasing our IQ that emotional intelligence seems to have taken a backseat. Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive and manage your emotions, as well as those of others. On the very basis of it, journaling is an outlet that enables you to process your emotions and increase self-awareness.
When you build an internal familiarity with yourself, it increases your empathy, allowing you to better perceive and understand what others are experiencing. Just the act of writing down an argument or disagreement you had with someone will force you to look at things from multiple perspectives, increasing your awareness of other's points of view and emotions.
Not only is being able to get on the same page with someone by understanding their views a huge mark of emotional intelligence, but it also allows you to develop much more profound and richer relationships.
Improves Communications Skills
Even if you're technically talking to yourself, journaling is a form of written communication. As you trace your written thoughts naturally, it eventually translates into actual vocalization. According to a Stanford report, "Writing has critical connections to speaking." However, it is important that you make a conscious decision to tidy up your writing in order to see these benefits in your verbal communication.
In addition to this, it also improves your ability to hold a discussion instead of mindlessly arguing. As discussed before, writing down an argument opens up new perspectives and enables you to gain an insight into other people's thought processes.
So if you find yourself in a similar argument again, you will be better equipped to handle it as you've already processed those thoughts to a certain extent.
Motivates You to Achieve Goals
The most practical and tangible benefit you can gain from maintaining a journal is using it to achieve your goals.
Of course, you'll have to use your journal more mindfully for this purpose. A journal is an excellent way to note down your goals, ambitions, and aspirations. In addition to that, you can. You can also note down doable steps you can take to reach your goals.
Once you're done with that, you can use your journal to keep a record of your progress and even update your goals if required. This way, you'll be able to celebrate your small victories, focus on your next milestone, and feel motivated to keep pushing forward.
Keeps Your Thoughts Organized
Ultimately, the most fundamental reason anyone starts a diary or a journal is to help keep their thoughts organized. It gives you a safe space to record daily events, thoughts, feelings, experiences, ideas, opinions, and anything else that you may like and makes them more apprehensible.
By doing so, you gain a better understanding of yourself, your values, and what is truly important to you. It can also enable you to learn about things that bother you and help you cope with the issue better.
As you try to incorporate a journal into your daily life, you may find it challenging to keep up with it on a regular basis. If you're struggling, try to start smaller. Maybe write a few sentences the first few days.
As you get comfortable with it, try slowly increasing your pace. Just like anything else, it takes time to build a journaling habit. Just remember that patience and consistency are the keys. So keep up with it, and you'll soon be reaping all the benefits.