A harrowing experience can keep us awake at night thereby leading it to a disturbed minds. But did you know dwelling on it can lead to anxiety and depression? However when these thoughts and feelings are expressed into written words, we can process and channel the experience to get a better perspective, leading to a feeling of well-being.
There are studies done which suggests that expressive writing i.e. writing eloquently about our deepest thoughts and feelings can boost our mood, help cope with stress and even improve physical health.
For instance, James W. Pennebaker, a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, US, was the first to show scientifically that writing expressively helps. In a study, published in 1999 in the Journal Of Clinical Psychology,Prof. Pennebaker recruited healthy undergraduates and assigned them to one of four groups. Three groups wrote about traumatic life events, while the fourth group wrote about trivial issues. They were instructed to write for 15-20 minutes for four consecutive days and their well-being was tracked over the next six months. It was found that those who wrote about their traumatic events had fewer illnesses, some even saw their grades improve. (Source)
Personally, I have maintained a journal since my childhood. Though most of them are charred or brought down to ashes. My journals have always helped me grow, it is a reflective exercise for me. When you read what you have written after a long gap, you will know how much you have grown intellectually. The psychiatrist, whom I visit, was happy that I was always recording my feelings in a journal. He urged me to continue the habit. Writing diary was one of the contributory factors for my healing process. I have recorded most of my feelings in it. I know what I have gone through since the day I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder.
There are no strict rules to what to write in your journal. You can write anything and everything under the sun. All you have to do is make a habit of writing in it. It incurs a very simple investment – a book and a pen is all that you need or you can even record it on your tablet/ laptop if you are a digital enthusiast.
Now how do you go about it after you have bought a journal for yourself?
Step 1 :Write whatever comes to you. Pour down your heart and feeling. Expressive writing highlights expressions rather than grammars, so do not worry. Just keep writing. Memory fades but writing does not.
Step 2: Carry the book everywhere you go. Who knows when you are struck with an itch to write?
Step 3: Make it routine to write. If you cannot write it daily make sure you write it once a week so you record weekly activities. Like I said before there are no strict rules to write a journal. However, do not stop yourself from writing. Writing has a lot of benefits.
By the way I have two journals with me and soon I will starting my third journal. So are you soon going to adopt the idea of maintaining a journal?
P.S.: Read this if you want to know more about the benefits of writing.