Keeping a diary or a more common way of saying it nowadays, journaling is an activity that dates back thousands of years. For some time, it was considered a pastime for girls and women who kept a diary as something top secret. Some people also think that this is something that writers or adventurers do, but not ordinary people. Especially men shouldn’t do it because they need to be strong and not whine about their emotions in some secret book.
But things are starting to change a bit and journaling, or keeping a diary, is coming back to fashion. And there are more and more men who write a journal, believe it or not. And no, we aren’t talking about prominent historical figures who have nothing to do with you, like Leonardo da Vinci. The 21st-century famous actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a proud journal writer, and he says that it helps him sort out his thoughts.
Journaling proved to have fantastic effects on our mental health, and we can take it as mental health first aid. You may think that it has nothing to do with you and that you don’t need to think about such things. But, we want to remind you that it is important to take care of our brain’s health the same way we take care of the health of the rest of our body. If you are conscious about the importance of maintaining good physical health, why would you neglect mental health?
We are witnessing rapid progress, which contributes to our lives being more and more hectic. All of us are under constant pressure to do the best at school or work, to make enough money, maintain good relations, etc.
Under these circumstances, it would be ridiculous to perceive topics like mental illness and mental disorders as a taboo, don’t you think? If you, for example, walk around for about a month carrying a heavy load on your back, it would crack eventually, right?! Well, it is as simple as that, the same thing would happen to your brain if you walk around with all the emotions packed deep inside for some time.
That’s where journaling plays a huge role according to people whose job is to be a mental health counselor. They say that writing down your thoughts, even if you do it once a week, has a significant impact on improving our mental health.
What Is Mental Health?
In recent years more and more people are talking about the importance of raising mental health awareness. There is mental health awareness month even, we are talking about it here, but let’s find out what is mental health? The World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as a state of general wellbeing that makes every person able to realize their potential, handle daily stress, and efficiently perform routine tasks. It includes our emotional, psychological, and social welfare and is crucial in every stage of our lives, from childhood to adulthood.
Mental Illness and Mental Disorders
When we think about mental health disorders, we tend to think about something super complicated like schizophrenia or something like that. Some things seem to need clarification. First of all, there isn’t a mental illness that manifests itself like you are used to seeing in thriller and horror movies. It is important to understand that these movies are designed with the purpose to scare the viewers. Mental health issues are of the same importance as any physical health issues; some could be more or less complicated to deal with.
Severe disorders are quite rare, but many of them may seem irrelevant first, damaging our lives if we neglect them. Among them are anxiety and depression, almost exclusively caused by the continuously increasing stress that we are surrounded by.
According to the mental health statistics research, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, there is a rising number of young people suffering from some anxiety disorder or depression. With all the pressure at school or university, it is not surprising. That’s why it is vital to know how we can help ourselves, our relatives or friends.
How to Journal
Some people say that once you start journaling, you have to do it every day. But it creates a feeling of commitment, rather than something good that you decided to do for yourself.
The truth is that there is no rule on how often you should write and nobody can tell you that. It’s not like the homework that you need to do. If you feel the need to write each day — do it, but if not — write whenever you feel like doing it. To begin with, you can pick some mental health writing prompts to get started. Try answering a question like what makes you happy. You can write about little things, like swimming in the lake, to get some ideas for your notes.
Another thing to keep in mind is that writing isn’t generally easy at first. You always think it’s not good enough and you should start all over again. A journal is something that is only for you. You are the only one who will know what is written there, and the only person who will read it. You are not writing Lord of the Rings, so feel free to note whatever comes to your mind without editing.
Furthermore, writing about bad experiences or negative feelings can be as difficult as talking about it. That’s because we are taught to worry about other people’s opinions and reactions to what we are saying. We tend to fear that they will judge us or reject us. It is, of course, easier to talk about success, so start with that. Pick out a good thing that happened to you during the day or the week and make a note in your diary. You can read about it when you are in a bad mood.
Also, remember that paper endures everything. There isn’t anything that you can write down, and it will make a paper feel bad or disappointed in you. The journal is there to hear out all your failures, sadness, anger, and whatever you need to express.
You probably noticed that we keep mentioning paper. We believe that people get the best experience of journaling when they write in a notebook, but it is not a must.
If you prefer keeping a digital journal rather than a traditional one, go with it and enjoy. You should know that there are plenty of mental health quotes that you can find online searching for inspiration.
You don’t have to write all at once, either. You can take a break, gather your thoughts while surfing the web and looking for interesting things online such as bluetooth handsfree car kit reviews
Benefits of Journaling
Alright, we have mentioned several times how scientists have proven that the journal has a uniquely positive effect on our mental health. Let’s see now what is going on there and how it impacts on us.
§ It Counteracts the Negative Effects of Stress.
How do you wonder? Well, it’s quite simple, let us tell you. Imagine having a friend whom you can say all without restraint. Journaling is better because usually friends have their own problems, and we cannot overwhelm them regularly with everything that’s on our minds. But once you write things down in your journal, no one will be disturbed.
Put on the paper all these thoughts, stop being lost in thoughts, because you have to cope with sleepless nights. Instead, whatever problem you have — jot it down, and you can reflect upon it later and think it through.
§ Improves Your Memory.
It might sound unbelievable, but writing things down can boost your memory. The studies have shown that when your brain is overloaded with stress, your mind gets impaired. Since expressive writing reduces stress levels, as we already mentioned, memory and comprehension get better.
Furthermore, there is research that states that journaling increases working memory capacity, which, as a result, improves cognitive processing. Spend your time on writing for yourself, and what really matters to you.
§ Improves the Immune System.
Since the body and mind are connected, and one cannot function without the other, besides mental health, a diary also improves physical wellbeing. Numerous studies have shown that keeping a journal boosts the immune system, and the risks of different illnesses get much lower. Also, there is significant evidence that it lessens the severity of asthma, arthritis, and some other health issues.
§ Makes Your Mood Better.
Want to feel happier? You should try out journaling as it is proved to improve people’s moods. Well, it makes sense, doesn’t it?! Because when you confide in your faithful diary about everything that has been bothering you throughout the day, there is no way you won’t feel better.
§ Strengthens Creativity.
The more you write, the better you write. It is also logical, isn’t it?! When you are not stressing about the same things over and over again, it becomes much easier to think and develop new ideas. Who knows, maybe you will start with journaling and end up writing a new Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter?
Before We Leave
We hope you found our mental health news useful. Journaling is all about advantages. Moreover, it is neither difficult nor strange to do it. When you begin to write a journal, you will see a whole new world opening up right in front of your eyes. It will help you sort out your thoughts and have a way better quality of life.
Keep in mind that if you want to live a healthy lifestyle, you must take care of both your mental health and physical likewise. We believe that in this article, you found things that will be effective for you in the future. Take a notebook or a laptop, start writing, keep eating healthy, and exercising in the meantime. Are there any other journaling benefits that you heard of?