10 Good Reasons to Keep a Journal
From stress reduction to creativity, here's why you should start writing today.
Posted January 31, 2023 | Reviewed by Abigail Fagan
- Regular writing is known to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and it can be used as a form of stress and emotional regulation.
- Keeping a diary can be beneficial for mental well-being as well as for personal growth and self-awareness.
- Creative insights and novel solutions to problems often result from habitual, uncensored writing.
Some call it a journal. Others say log, diary, chronicle, or notebook. Whatever the word, the key idea is that you create a written record of your thoughts, feelings, and memories at regular time intervals. Some people do it because they are writing-obsessed—they need to do it every day. Others are coerced by class assignments, or just want to try out a new smartphone diary app.
But the starting point is less important than the journey itself.
A diary is a personal journal where you can reflect on your thoughts, experiences, and emotions. Making this a stable part of your daily routine can help improve mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Here are 10 reasons why you should start a diary today:
1. Stress and Anxiety
Writing about your feelings and experiences can be therapeutic, helping to relieve stress and anxiety, according to research on mental distress and journaling. Keep in mind that the benefits of keeping a diary depend on how frequently you write in it and how honest you are with yourself. Writing regularly, whether it be daily or a few times a week, is usually more beneficial than writing infrequently. Also it's important to be honest with yourself, and not just write what you think others want to hear.
2. Enhanced Creativity
Writing in a diary can help stimulate your imagination and creativity. It can also be a good way to capture ideas for future projects. Sometimes we feel safer giving birth to new ideas when we know no one else will see them for a while. The act of writing can help you generate unique ideas and think more creatively without the need to censor or sanitize anything. Brilliant insights and novel solutions are often the result of simply taking the time to write about a problem.
3. Improved Memory
Keeping a diary can help improve your memory, as you can reflect on past experiences and remember details that may have been forgotten. Writing stories down can facilitate memory and serve as a reminder of the meaningful things that happen in your life. You could keep track of significant events, people, and places that you might otherwise forget.
4. Boost Self-Awareness
Writing in a diary allows you to reflect on your thoughts and emotions, helping you to understand yourself better. This increased self-awareness can lead to personal growth and development.
5. Good Mental Health
Keeping a diary can be an effective way to manage symptoms of depression and other mental health conditions. Writing about your feelings can help you process them and find ways to cope with them. It is also a healthy way to release pent-up emotions before they influence your interpersonal behavior in negative ways.
Writing down your goals and plans can help keep you motivated and focused. You can track your progress and see how far you've come.
7. Sense of Accomplishment
Finishing a diary entry can provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It can also be a good way to reflect on your daily activities and see what you've accomplished. A diary is a record of your experiences and reflections over time, which can help you see how you've grown and changed as a person.
8. Strengthen Relationships
Writing about your experiences and emotions can help you better understand and communicate with others. Keeping a diary can also be a good way to express your gratitude and appreciate the people in your life. It is all too easy in this fast-paced world to overlook the people who mean the most to you. A journal can remind you that it is never a bad time to send them some love.
9. Greater Productivity
Writing in a diary can help you prioritize tasks and make a plan for the day, which can lead to increased productivity. Productive people tend to have a system of organization that works for them. Writing can help you structure your week such that you carve out time for all the entries on your to-do list.
Stress Essential Reads
Keeping a diary can be a great way to leave a lasting legacy for future generations. Your diary entries can provide insight into your life and personality, and be a valuable source of information for future generations. The ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, famously did not believe in writing his ideas. Fortunately, his students and colleagues did take the time to document his brilliance, otherwise, his name would have never been known to the modern world.
In sum, the benefits of keeping a diary are many. Whether you choose to write in a traditional journal or use a digital diary app, the act of writing can be a therapeutic and rewarding experience. You should start today!
©2023 Kevin Bennett, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
Bennett, K. L. (2004). How to start teaching a tough course: Dry organization vs. excitement on the first day of class. College Teaching, 52, 106. https://www.jstor.org/stable/27559192
Smith S, Anderson-Hanley C, Langrock A, Compas B. The effects of journaling for women with newly diagnosed breast cancer. Psychooncology. 2005 Dec;14(12):1075-82. doi: 10.1002/pon.912. PMID: 15704148.
Smyth JM, Johnson JA, Auer BJ, Lehman E, Talamo G, Sciamanna CN. Online Positive Affect Journaling in the Improvement of Mental Distress and Well-Being in General Medical Patients With Elevated Anxiety Symptoms: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR Ment Health. 2018 Dec 10;5(4):e11290. doi: 10.2196/11290. PMID: 30530460; PMCID: PMC6305886.