Journaling isn’t all about the “dear diary” and recording our every thought and whimsy throughout the day. For loved ones in recovery, journaling is an important practice for mental health. Research has found that spending just twenty minutes of writing for three days in a row two weeks before a medical procedure healed fully within eleven days. Comparatively, those in the same group experiencing a medical procedure who did not spend anytime journaling did not recover fully. Conclusively, the study found, journaling is healing. Specifically, journaling about thoughts, feelings, or distressing events is is healing. The researchers found that one hour of writing can help someone make sense of what is going on in their lives and reduce the effect of distress.
Other benefits of journaling have been shown to:
- Improve mood
- Reduce stress levels
- Reduce symptoms of depression
- Increases immune system function
- Increases immune system strength
Why Journaling Helps
Though the philosophy has been longstanding of Eastern tradition, the idea that emotions live in the body is becoming increasingly westernized. Emotional toxicity is damaging to the body. When we hold emotions in, stuff them down, or swallow our feelings, we create a backup in our minds and our bodies. Feelings don’t just disappear. Unfortunately, they are energy which is released. Until we process that energy fully, the emotions sort of “hang out” in the body. That toxic energy, quite literally, makes us sick.
Getting it on Paper
Journaling is one of many ways to process the thoughts, feelings, emotions, experiences, and their accompanying energy. Oftentimes, even if we don’t know what to say or express, journaling helps us find the words. All we have to do is start writing. Where no one else might listen or we might be ashamed of what needs to be expressed, a journal is merely pen and paper. Objective, supportive, and nonjudgmental, a journal is the ideal place to authentically release internal energy.
Starting a journaling practice only requires starting. Here are a few quick tips:
- Buy a journal that inspires you. If you feel connected to the design or appearance of the journal, you are more likely to write in it.
- Start with 5 minute intervals. Set the timer and just write whatever comes to mind for five minutes. Your practice will build with time.
- Practice alternative journaling. You can try bullet journaling by making lists or even art journaling by creating art coupled with your words.
Avalon By The Sea is a center for healing of mind, body, and spirit. As Southern California’s premiere treatment center, we boast the title of a few certified to treat both substance abuse and mental health disorders as primary conditions. For more information on our programs, call 1 888-958-7511.