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Surprising health benefits of writing in a journal or diary regularly

For a change, put aside your smartphone and instead put pen on paper for improving your self-confidence, immune system and dealing with traumatic life incidents.

In today s digital world, it is easy to feel lost and disconnected while trying to navigate through the common stressors that you encounter every day. However, if you re willing to put aside just 15-20 minutes a day to write about your thoughts and feelings, you will realize how it can be an effective (and cheap) way of tackling your problems and gaining a better insight into your past. Here are the four ways writing in a journal or diary can benefit your emotional well-being in the long run:

1. Helps in boosting your self-confidence

American researchers conducted a study in 2006 where it was found that journal writing can actually help in increasing students self-confidence because it enables them to identify their own lack of motivation [1]. Other than this, it has been found that it can also turn passive learning into active learning as it enhances reflection, facilitates critical thinking and also helps in expressing your feelings.

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2. You can cope better with stressful and traumatic life incidents and improve your immunity

A study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology back in 1986 found that by simply putting pen on paper and writing about whatever traumatic life incidents or emotional events you faced can actually improve not only your psychological well-being, but also your physical health in the long run [2]. While it might be difficult to relive a traumatic life incident and write it down, your effort will pay off.

Psychologists have found that after college students wrote for 15 minutes about the most traumatic or upsetting experiences of their lives, reported benefits four months later as they required fewer visits to their therapist or doctor as it helped improve their immune system functioning [2]. The other health outcomes were improved lung and liver function, reduced blood pressure, improved mood and fewer bouts of depression.

3. Helps in organising your life and introspect

Despite all those apps on your smartphone and reminders to accomplish all your responsibilities, you can t help but feel like your life is cluttered and you re unable to prioritize. These are the 5 signs that you have smartphone addiction. When you find a private place in your house to just sit down, unwind and write into your journal, it gives you the chance for some deep introspection.

When you get to observe your mental state without staring at a screen or listening to the constant notifications of messages and emails, you can organize your thoughts and priorities with fewer distractions. The best part is, you can always go back and re-read your entries from even several months ago to figure out where you might have gone wrong.

References

[1] Walker SE. Journal Writing as a Teaching Technique to Promote Reflection.Journal of Athletic Training. 2006;41(2):216-221.

[2] Karen A. Baikie, Kay Wilhelm. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment Sep 2005, 11 (5) 338-346; DOI: 10.1192/apt.11.5.338

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