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The Benefits of Journaling to Spark your Memory

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Voyage to the Interior: Start Journaling to Empower Your Life

The authentic mind of the philosophical Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, is available for anyone to contemplate in the bestselling book, Meditations – in which he proclaims that “One's soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.” And for eons of time, human beings have voyaged within themselves and used the power of the pen to clarify their thoughts and feelings – via a diary or the more scientific concept of 'Journaling'. The latter, is supported by psychologists such as Dr. James Pennebaker, currently chair of the psychology department at the University of Texas, whose extensive research has revealed the benefits of expressive writing. Pennebaker's research suggests that the benefits can include more happiness, health, emotional release, personal growth and goal achievement. Begin the voyage into your interior world and discover the power of journaling...

Journaling Explained – The Pen is Mighty

The concept of the pen being mightier than the sword is one of the best-known clichés in the human psyche. But in terms of serving wellness, the pen (or your keypad), remains a legitimately powerful ally in the journey through life.... Playwright Oscar Wilde once quipped, “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.” Nelson Mandela's autobiography, My Long Walk to Freedom was compiled from his journals. While current celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey swear by the empowering effects of daily reflection. Words are your crystallised thought and taking a little time each day to write them down, along with your feelings and things you're grateful for, provides you with a powerful life tool. Our words contain our emotions and help us to reveal the pain and truth inside us.

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The Science of Journaling – A Powerful Life Tool

It's obvious that human beings have kept diaries and journals, deep into the past – the need for very intimate self-reflection appears to be ingrained in our consciousness. However, while any regular journal writer will attest to the beauty of journaling, science can help us unlock the reason for its power. Journaling researchers such as James Pennebaker, suggest that writing activates neurons in the left hemisphere – the practical and analytical part of the brain. As a result, the right brain hemisphere achieves liberation and begins to stimulate creative thought, intuition and highly emotive feelings. The result can be a release of mental blocks, access to your inner truth and a profound one-to-one with yourself.

Some of the research proven benefits of Journaling

Increased immune health – Writing therapy may strengthen immune system T-lymphocytes.

Anti-inflammatory potential – Journaling can reduce symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

Better relationships – People who journal about their relationships may be more likely to maintain long-term romantic connections.

Work performance – Noting down worries before exams helps to improve test scores.

Less worry and anxiety – Dubbed the 'Two-minute miracle” just two minutes of writing for two consecutive days has been shown to reduce physical symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Journaling regularly will help you journey into yourself and analyse your life more clearly – identifying fears, worries and toxic aspects of your life. By accepting and releasing negativity, you can release sadness, regain mindfulness and come back to the present moment. Journaling can also offer powerful benefits when it comes to personal growth, goal achievement and succeeding with ambitious goals.

How to Start Journaling

Anyone can start writing a journal by just following a few simple steps:

1. Decide how you're going to write – word processor, paper or blogging.

2. Find somewhere calm and quiet – ideal as part of a Morning or Evening Routine

3. Get accountable to 15 minutes of writing a day for the next 30 days.

4. Write about the same or different things each day.

5. Try and write non-stop for the full 15 minutes – let it flow.

In the book, Opening Up by Writing It Down, Dr. James Pennebaker delivers an insightful guide to going deep with your journaling:

“Over the next four days, I want you to write about your deepest emotions and thoughts about the most upsetting experience in your life. Really let go and explore your feelings and thoughts about it. In your writing, you might tie this experience to your childhood, your relationship with your parents, people you have loved or love now, or even your career. How is this experience related to who you would like to become, who you have been in the past, or who you are now? Many people have not had a single traumatic experience but all of us have had major conflicts or stressors in our lives and you can write about them as well. You can write about the same issue every day or a series of different issues. Whatever you choose to write about, however, it is critical that you really let go and explore your very deepest emotions and thoughts.”

Blogging is a modern form of journaling that studies suggest can offer some people a very effective form personal therapy. Blogs can feature personal writing, vlogs and photographs – all concepts that can be highly emotively charged. While personal journaling is just that – 'deeply personal', public blogging offers distinct benefits – the potential of friendship and social interaction. Blogging studies suggest that the activity can give people a greater sense of belonging and well being.

How you journal may have a big impact on whether it enhances your life. Journaling studies suggest that writing about trauma and stress, but finding positives from it, results in a better psychological outcome and more personal growth. While this can be hard to implement and very challenging to accept in sensitive cases, the ethos of ‘It happens for me not too me' can help you search for positives from problems in your work and personal life. This growth mindset can do wonders.

Voyage to your interior and start journaling to empower your life.

 

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References

Pennebaker, J. et al., 1988. Disclosure of traumas and immune function: health implications for psychotherapy. Published in: J Consult Clin Psychol.
Symth, J. et al., 1999. Effects of writing about stressful experiences on symptom reduction in patients with asthma or rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized trial. Published in: JAMA.
Slatcher, R. et al., 2006. How do I love thee? Let me count the words: the social effects of expressive writing. Published in: Psychol Sci.
Baker, J. et al., 2008. Blogging as a social tool: a psychosocial examination of the effects of blogging. Published in: Cyberpsychol Behav.
Burton, C. et al., 2008. Effects of (very) brief writing on health: the two-minute miracle. Published in: Br J Health Psychol.
Pennebaker, J. et al., 2011. Expressive Writing: Connections to Physical and Mental Health. Published in: The Oxford Handbook of Health Psychology.
Ramirez, G. et al., 2011. Writing about testing worries boosts exam performance in the classroom. Published in: Science.
Pennebaker, J. et al., 2016. Opening Up by Writing It Down, Third Edition: How Expressive Writing Improves Health and Eases Emotional Pain. Published by: Guilford Press

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