Keeping a diary is one of those habits that can help you stay focused, identify your strengths and weaknesses, reflect and self-analyze, and much more. But does journaling actually help? Research results on the benefits of keeping a diary show mixed results. It can be beneficial, but it can also be detrimental if not done correctly. In general, it is likely to hurt if you try to help you “know yourself in isolation and it helps if it leads to greater understanding and behavior change in your interactions with others.
Not that keeping a diary was a cure for me, but it has definitely been a healthy coping mechanism and I feel like it has improved my mental health a lot. Keeping an effective diary is a practice of keeping a diary that helps you achieve your goals or improve your quality of life. For a more complete list of all the potential benefits of keeping a diary (although there are no references), see this page by John Robson and Patrice Steen. As you might have guessed, the benefits of keeping a diary naturally extend to more general stress management as well as anxiety.
Another good set of guidelines on effective journaling can be found on the Center for Journal Therapy website. Researchers at Harvard Business School discovered, for example, that part of the impact of keeping a journal has to do with paying attention to small details that would otherwise not be noticed. One day, my therapist suggested that I start a diary and practice some things, but the most important thing was to keep track of some things so that I could better understand how my brain works. If you tend to be too expansive or detailed in your writing, try challenging yourself by writing a bullet journal or writing 3 sentences of gratitude or whatever other emotion you are feeling and capturing as best you can. However, both Carroll and Cameron say it's important not to be self-critical, and both emphasize that no one else is going to see your diary. So can keeping a diary be harmful? The answer is yes, there are scenarios where journaling can be detrimental, but these scenarios can be easily avoided.
In the daily log studies, there was no improvement in the physical or mental health of journalists who were told to keep their entries at a very superficial level and not to delve into their feelings and problems. Keep track of any symptoms daily so you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better manage them. Provide an opportunity for positive internal conversation and identify negative thoughts and feelings. You have to process those emotions and that seems to be the key to the importance of keeping a diary. A 2002 study suggests that journalists should be careful not to repeat the same difficult feelings over and over again in writing. Now you have an idea of how to start your diary, but you may need a little more conviction about the benefits.
Keeping a journal is an excellent way to gain insight into yourself and your life. It can help you recognize triggers and learn ways to better manage them. It also provides an opportunity for positive internal conversation and helps identify negative thoughts and feelings.