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Five Benefits of Journaling

If you need extra convincing to start journaling, here it is. These are the five benefits of journaling you'd be crazy to miss out on.
Five Benefits of Journaling
Photo by David Pennington / Unsplash

What could possibly come from writing down your thoughts in a journal? A whole lot of nothing, right?


Imagine a sunny spring day where the birds chirp and you can smell the flowers. It isn’t absurd to compare the benefits of journaling to such a day.

It’s like the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders. While this may seem over the top, research has proven that journaling is effective for many different uses.

From spelling out your emotions to materializing abstract ideas, journaling can be of use to anybody. In this post, I’ll cover five benefits of journaling that you won't want to miss out on.

Improved Mental Clarity

Are you an over-thinker? I hope not. But if you are, you’re in the right place, because I have the fix.

You’d never guess, but the fix is journaling.

From an anecdotal standpoint, I can attest that journaling has eliminated my urge to overthink. I used to be the biggest overthinker imaginable; there had to be an ulterior motive behind everything, something I couldn’t see.

When I started journaling, my habit of overthinking vanished.

Writing words on the page helps you see things for what they really are.

Cambridge University has cited journaling for many benefits, including increased psychological well-being. Their research had participants write down their thoughts and concerns for four days; while their short-term mood was lower than the control group, their long-term mood far exceeded that of the control.

Mental clarity is a must; take a few minutes a day to write your thoughts out to achieve a clear mind.

Reduction of Emotional Distress

Journaling also has a knack for making us feel better about life in general. A simple sit-down session with my journal tends to do the trick when I have a big test looming or deadlines to meet.

By writing things out, we can rationalize our thoughts. Many times, emotions and stress come from irrational thoughts. What if this happens? What if that happens?

The good news is, it doesn’t matter what happens. When you journal, your feet are planted in the present moment.

Journaling also helps to reduce emotional distress by serving as a form of release.

Many forms of stress come from bottling up feelings. Those feelings can be effectively emptied onto the page, and your conscious is clear again. No more fuzz up there.

According to a study conducted by Michigan State University, those who journal are more likely to enjoy a clear mind. When two groups’ brain activity was measured during a stressful task, the group who journaled had an efficient performance in comparison to the control group.

Goal-Oriented Focus

My absolute favorite benefit of journaling!

Defining goals is not only satisfying (at least for me) but useful for practical purposes. Establishing and defining your goals provides a sense of direction in life.

Luckily, a journal is a perfect medium for defining goals and recording progress.

By writing goals down, you can experience increased motivation and definitive benchmarks to measure against.

Having a definitive objective also helps tailor your focus on a day-to-day basis. Ask yourself, “Does this contribute towards reaching my objective?” I promise you’ll be more effective in everything you do.

If you lack ideas, start by breaking your life into segments (physical health, financial well-being, etc.) and create two or three goals in each category.

Safe Space for Self Expression

A journal is a judgment-free listener. Other people can be hurtful and critically harsh when exposed to new or nuanced ideas. A journal will never tell you what it thinks; it's inanimate after all.

Talking to many of my college friends has helped me realize this is a benefit that goes overlooked. Being able to express yourself isn't exactly tangible, but the benefits are.

Self-expression is linked to increased creativity and a better mood. It would be wasteful to not take this opportunity by the harness.

Write what's on your mind and forget the filter. Nobody else is going to read what you write so it's irrelevant whether it's high quality or "correct."

Improved Memory

This may seem contradictory, but it makes plenty of sense. By journaling, your memory is enhanced.

But how? Doesn't journaling decrease your memory because you remember fewer things? I rest my case.

By writing down what you need to remember, you're no longer forced to keep a massive jumble of thoughts in your head. Anytime you please, the journal can be visited to remember whatever you need to.

With a clear mind, the significant factors you need to remember will stick. Listen to Matthew McConaughey talk about how journaling helps to increase memory.

Journaling has so many pros and so few cons. Simply writing words on a piece of paper make a tangible difference in everyday life.

It’s no wonder I’m such an advocate of journaling; science agrees with me!

If you want to know how to get started journaling so that you can receive all these amazing benefits, read my article about how to start journaling.