PREVIOUS: WRITING for Mental Health (#2)
Physical & Mental HEALTH Benefits of Journaling
In the first study on expressive writing (Pennebaker & Beall, 1986), college students who wrote about their deepest thoughts & feelings reported significant benefits in objectively assessed & self-reported physical health, with less frequent visits to the health centre, & with fewer days out of school owing to illness.
📍Diarists become more in tune with their body’s processes by connecting with inner needs & desires. This can translate as needing fewer days for hospital ‘visits’
📍One study showed that expressive writing (like journaling) for only 15 to 20 min. a day 3-5x for 4-months – can decrease symptoms of many health conditions, such as significantly lowering blood pressure, & improving liver & lung functionality
📍Improves immune function, with can lessen symptoms of asthma & rheumatoid arthritis
📍Increases both length & quality of sleep
📍Encourages exercise, reducing physical pain, & has even been reported to help heal wounds faster
📍Helps the brain regulate emotions, which improves mood. This results in a feeling of well-being, leading to more self-confidence & a greater sense of one’s Identity
📍Unlocks & engages right-brained creativity, giving access to full brainpower
📍Boosts memory & comprehension, as well as increases working-memory capacity
📍Research shows that journaling helps develop more structured, adaptive, & integrated schemes about oneself, others & the world
📍May benefit social & verbal communication styles (objectively assessment)
📍Improves cognitive processing, which can limit Rumination (obsessions)
📍Reduces absenteeism from work. Helps speed up re-employment after job loss
📍Raises students’ grade point average. Improves sporting performance
1. Re. ANXIETY – Journaling can:
☀︎Allow you to explore your experiences with anxiety
☀︎Calm & clear your mind, so you can let go of negative thoughts more easily
☀︎Identify childhood triggers & improve PMES self-awareness
☀︎Release everyday stressful events & pent-up emotions
☀︎Track your progress in Recovery, and validate your successes
☞ are the people/ place / things that trigger my anxiety? (Toxic Inner Dialogue, disappointments, criticism….)
☞ are all the strategies I use that help me cope with an anxiety attack?
☞ is my anxiety trying to tells me about myself? I can use the info to heal old wounds & motivate myself positively
☞ are 3 lessons I’ve gotten from my anxiety?
2. Re. DEPRESSION – Expressive writing seems to reduce symptoms:
🔅of depression in women traumatized by intimate-partner violence
🔅 even when it does not reduce the frequency of intrusive thoughts in depressed individuals
🔅 of depression in high-risk adolescents, & may be as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
🔅of brooding & rumination in college students vulnerable to depression, 2 aspects of depressive symptoms
🔅after only 3 days of journaling, 20 min. a day, lowering depression scores, as reported by people with Major Depressive Disorder
🔅for as long as a person continues gratitude journaling
☞ was the most difficult experience I’ve had in life? (emotionally stressful or complicated, physically painful….) What did I do to deal with it?
☞ life lessons did I learn from the difficult experience?
☞ is my Inner Critic saying about the way I handled it? RESPOND by focusing on the positives
🏅are all the things I’ve already overcome in my life?
🏅have I done that was healthy & fun for myself? When?
🏅specifically could I do right now to make me feel happy? Keep it simple, & possible! Then DO IT.
🏅 are some things I’m grateful for? (in each PMES category). Cultivating gratitude can increase optimism, which will encourage us to keep working toward goals & thereby improve our quality of life. And there are different ways to express gratitude besides just making lists.
EXP: WRITE a letter to 3 of your greatest supporters, telling them how much you appreciate who they are & the ways they’ve been there for you. Be specific in PMES ways (Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual).
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