Research has shown that daily journaling can boost your mood, self-confidence, memory, cognitive function, and even immunity. All you need to do is find a little time each day to write down your thoughts, feelings, experiences, and moments of joy. We explore the power of journaling and how it could help make 2021 your best year yet.
Create a daily habit
The solitary and centuries-old art of journaling is a wonderful thing. Leonardo Da Vinci produced between 20,000 to 28,000 pages of writing, diagrams and ideas that showed us the remarkable workings of his mind. Frida Kahlo’s journals are full of striking sketches, many of which she used as inspiration for larger works. And Oprah Winfrey has attributed her colossal success to journaling, saying: “Keeping a journal will absolutely change your life in ways you’ve never imagined.”
But journaling is not the preserve of the celebrated and famous. Nor is it just a cringy ‘Dear diary…’ teenage moment, when you scribbled away about that person you fancied in maths. We’re talking about grown-up journaling. Journaling which celebrates creativity, ambition and emotional reflection. Journaling which gives you a moment to put pen to paper (yes, pen and paper is better than digital here), and really connect with yourself. Think of it as a self-care tool in the same way you view yoga, a healthy diet and exercise. If you take time to create the daily habit of introspective journaling, you’ll be rewarded with a plethora of health and well-being wins.
How does it work?
The benefits of journaling are rooted in science. In addition to those listed above, researchers have shown that daily journaling can also reduce stress and improve productivity and creativity. How? In one study, when volunteers were asked to write down their feelings on paper, brain scans showed a reduction in activity in the amygdala – the part of the brain responsible for controlling emotions. Dr Matthew Lieberman, a psychologist at the University of California said: “Writing seems to help the brain regulate emotion unintentionally. Whether it’s writing things down in a diary, writing bad poetry, or making up song lyrics that should never be played on the radio, it seems to help people emotionally.”
There’s no right or wrong way to do it but it’s important to have no distractions. When you write down your worries, hopes, ideas or doodles, put yourself firmly into the present moment. Journaling is a mindful, meditative process so focus on how you feel at that moment in time and let your emotions pour onto the page.
Take a moment for yourself
Find a comfortable spot, preferably alone at the end of each day. Draw, write, use bullet points – whatever works for you. If you can, try and include positive thoughts and finish your entry by jotting down what you’re grateful for. Remember that gratitude is strongly associated with feelings of greater happiness, helping people feel more connected to their emotions and able to build resilience. By practising gratitude in this way, you end the day on a good note, appreciating the little things in life that you might otherwise take for granted.
Reflect back on previous entries where you were feeling worried, anxious, overwhelmed and look at what might have caused this. Each entry provides insight and allows you to spot negative mental health triggers (anxiety, stress, conditions) and work out ways to resolve and manage them. Look at the days when you felt happiest or content – what made you feel this way? Can you get more of this in your life?
Daily journaling also builds self-discipline – a transferable quality that once established in one area of your life can have a positive knock-on effect in others. So, switch off your phone and laptop, get comfortable and take a moment of peace in this noisy world. Who knows what you might discover about yourself once you start writing.
At the Pure Package, we nurture minds and bodies with healthy, delicious food. As a special New Year’s gift, the first 100 customers of 2021 to order a 10, 30 or 90 day package will receive our Positivity Package which contains a special Joy Journal to record and reflect upon moments of joy (and anything else that’s on your mind). Also included is a Green Tea Explorer set from luxury tea purveyors JING, and Newton Wood Epsom Salts to help you find contentment and relaxation.