Rewiring Your Brain: The Benefits of Keeping a Journal

Keeping a journal can be an effective way to rewire your brain and make positive changes in your life. Research has shown that journaling can have a range of health benefits, such as increasing immunity and reducing stress. It can also help you process events, vent emotions, sharpen your mind, and even boost creativity. The reason for this is that handwriting stimulates a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS).

Writing triggers the RAS to process knowledge in memory, which is something that digital communication doesn't do. Deborah Ross, an avid journalist, recognizes the healing power of expressive writing and shares techniques for using journaling as self-directed neuroplasticity. In addition to improving mental health, keeping a diary can also benefit the brain in ways that might surprise you. According to Psych Central, it can create positive physical changes, such as reducing the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

A study from the University of Tokyo suggests that writing on paper strengthens brain activity. You don't need to buy a special diary to get started, although if you find it motivating, you can. 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. 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: analyzing emotions, overcoming challenges and organizing your life.

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