Keeping a journal can be what helps you reconfigure your brain, whether it's a change in attitude you're looking for or you're trying to achieve other goals in life. Research even points to the health benefits that can result from keeping a diary, such as increasing immunity and reducing stress. Some people might think that keeping a journal is just for recording parts of daily life. But it's usually more than that.
Science has shown that keeping a diary is good for mental health, as it helps you process events, vent emotions, sharpen your mind, and even boost creativity. It is not uncommon for negative stimuli to be attracted more to negative stimuli than to positive ones. But we can learn to reconfigure our brains and make a shift towards the positive. Keeping a diary is an effective way to study and gain new knowledge.
The reason is that handwriting stimulates a part of the brain called RAS, or Reticular Activating System. The RAS prioritizes what your immediate approach requires and what needs to be filtered. Writing triggers the RAS to process knowledge in memory. And for now, let go of screens when writing in a journal stimulates and trains the brain in a way that digital communication doesn't.
Deborah Ross, an avid journalist, recognizes the healing power of expressive writing and shares techniques for using journaling as self-directed neuroplasticity. Ultimately, keeping a journal allows you to relive the events of the day or week with perspective, an invaluable tool when it comes to dealing with the difficult things. In addition to improving mental health, Bustle reports that keeping a diary can also benefit the brain in ways that might surprise you. According to Psych Central, keeping a diary can create positive physical changes, such as reducing the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, and the brain gets a boost to adopt the habit of journaling.
You don't need to run out and buy a special diary to get started, although if you find it motivating, you can. While you may be tempted to use your phone or tablet to start your commute, a study from the University of Tokyo suggests that writing on paper strengthens brain activity (via Neuroscience News). A thank-you journal entry can simply be a list of things you're thankful for on a given day, or it can be a longer expressive writing. Psychotherapy is the most effective way to do this, but keeping a diary can be an effective self-help technique for some.
Those who wrote a to-do list fell asleep faster than those who had written in a journal about completed tasks. Keeping a diary is a practice that may have started in your childhood, perhaps by scribbling in your secret diary or carefully writing down daily events. It's common for kids and teens to keep a diary, but the habit can get in the way as people age. Simply put, people who keep a gratitude journal or journal consider themselves happier than people who don't, suggesting that if you want to start writing a journal to improve your mental health, you're likely to get more benefit from focusing on deeper feelings and thoughts rather than logging your daily life experiences like a traditional diary.
The following are some of the benefits you may start to experience when you start keeping a diary throughout the day. A useful tool for analyzing emotions, overcoming challenges and organizing your life, once you start keeping a diary, you'll wonder how it went without it.