For most adults, hearing these words conjures up images of teenage girls, smacking their gum, wearing fuzzy slippers and a messy bun, dreamily writing about their latest crush and how their over protective, incredibly lame parents are trying to ruin their lives. Fair.
But for those in the know, Dear Diary may just be the beginning of a healing session.
For me, I don't buy into much of anything without knowing that it's worth my time. So, when I first started journaling, I did a lot of research...a LOT of research. While I know just how important doing the hard work to manage mental health is, my time is also valuable. So, I'm not investing time into anything that isn't going to yield, at least some, positive results.
So after scouring over articles and psychological journals, I decided this was worth my time. Let me share some of what I've learned and I hope that this convinces you to bring out the inner 13 year old teenager living inside you and give it a shot!
Expressive journaling (dealing with thoughts or feelings, not the superficial stuff like the color of your outfit and Sunday's football game) has been shown to:
Lessen stress-related visits to the doctor.
Improve immune system functioning.
Reduce blood pressure.
Improve lung function.
Improve liver function.
Reduce days in hospital.
Provide a feeling of greater psychological well-being.
Reduce overall stress
Aid in solution finding
Improve long term outcome with severe diseases
While more research needs to be done, initial findings show that for many people, connecting pen to paper promotes a positive outcome.
If you are struggling with severe mental, physical or cognitive health challenges, always consult your physician or therapist before relying on any one strategy. That said, if you feel journaling is a safe option, stick with me because I'll help you every step of the way.
Let's hop on the mental wellness journey together!
Resources (not in any order or format, sorry APA experts, not something I care to spend my time on!)
Klein, K. & Boals, A. (2001) Expressive writing can increase working memory capacity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 130, 520–533
Petrie, K. J., Fontanilla, I., Thomas, M. G.et al (2004) Effect of written emotional expression on immune function in patients with Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection. A randomized trial. Psychosomatic Medicine, 66, 272–275.
Range, L. M., Kovac, S. H. & Marion, M. S. (2000) Does writing about the bereavement lessen grief following sudden, unintentional death?Death Studies, 24, 115–134.
Rosenberg, H. J., Rosenberg, S. D., Ernstoff, M. S.et al (2002) Expressive disclosure and health outcomes in a prostate cancer population. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 32, 37–53.