“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou
From the time that written language was invented, people have been writing down their thoughts, experiences, hopes, and feelings as a way to document their experience, work through complicated emotions, and keep a record of daily events. It has been long documented that journaling can have a positive impact on both mental and physical health; specifically, journaling daily can reduce feelings of depression, anxiety, and anger as well as less doctor visits, better immune systems, and reduced symptoms of chronic disease (like arthritis)(1). Furthermore, journaling daily can lead to a greater sense of meaning and purpose in addition to increasing the ability to work through life stressors and leading to high levels of self-awareness(1). And journaling can take many forms, from traditional pen and paper to bullets written on a phone app: there are benefits in all of its many forms.
Below are some tips for getting started and increasing your comfort with journaling(2):
- Start small and have realistic expectations: you do not need to spend a lot of time (start with just five minutes) or write anything prolific (you are writing) to experience the positive effects.
- Write at the time of day that is best: some people prefer to write before starting their day, others make it the last thing before bed. Do what works best for you.
- There are no wrong topics: write what you want, whether that is a story about your day, things you would like to accomplish, or simply listing what you are grateful for. Again, make this experience your own.
- Be accountable: it is better to write for a short period of time on a busy day than to not write anything. Make the commitment each day to journal and stick with it.
- Make your journal private: this should be a space for you to discuss things that are deeply personal so your journal is not something that you have to share with others. Keep your journal in a private place.
Remember: if you get stuck or need some fresh ideas, a Google search will produce many different writing prompts and examples of what works for others.