10 Surprising Benefits You’ll Get From Journaling

When it comes to keeping a journal, the stereotypical Dear diary is reserved for the high-school sweetheart or awkward recluse. Others see writing merely as a pragmatic tool, overlooking any inherent value. But science continues to dissolve skepticism. For those sitting on the fence, these 10 benefits of journaling will encourage you to start journaling.

1. Stretching Your IQ

The ability to change your IQ has been backed by research. And a report by the University of Victoria noted that “Writing as part of language learning has a positive correlation with intelligence.”

Journaling is an exploration of language, you’ll have the natural urge to search for new words and increase your vocabulary. The report goes on to say, “One of the best single measures of overall intelligence as measured by intelligence tests is vocabulary.”

2. Evoking Mindfulness

It’s the buzz-word for good reason. There’s a strong connection between happiness and mindfulness. Journaling brings you into that state of mindfulness; past frustrations and future anxieties lose their edge in the present moment.  It calls a wandering mind to attention, from passivity to actively engaging with your thoughts.

3. Achieving Goals

Journaling often includes your dreams and ambitions, yet the idea that scribbled words can help achieve goals is understandably fanciful. But consider building a house without a blueprint. That makes more sense.

Writing goals signals to your brain “this is important.” Your reticular activating system (RAS) then flags relevant opportunities and tools to achieve that goal. More detailed goals provide a psychological blueprint, and increases the likelihood of achieving them.

4. Emotional Intelligence 

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to perceive and manage your emotions, and that of others. Journaling is an outlet for processing emotions and increases self-awareness. This internal familiarity becomes a bridge of empathy, you’ll better intuit and understand what others are experiencing.

Being able to get on the same page with someone is a mark of emotional intelligence, and allows for a much deeper connection.

5. Boosting Memory & Comprehension 

There’s a unique relationship between the hand and brain, sparked by the composition of thoughts and ideas. Words are representations of ideas; the formation of letters and causes the mind to compose or re-compose ideas while journaling. This strengthens previously covered information and forces you to engage in cognitive recall.

6. Strengthen Your Self-Discipline

Setting time aside to write, whether morning or evening, is an act of discipline. And discipline begets discipline. Like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. And habits formed in one area of life have a tendency to spread; as keeping your office clean leads to keeping the bedroom tidy, your daily practice of writing will domino onto other healthy habits.

7. Improve Communication Skills

“Writing has critical connections to speaking” according to a Stanford report. Journaling is a form of written communication, albeit to oneself. Nonetheless, the subvocalization of tracing your written thoughts naturally translates in actual vocalization.

Of course, anyone journaling must have a deliberate aim to tidy up their writing in order to see benefits in their verbal communication. But making that decision during writing will benefit your speaking.

8. Healing  

Expressive writing is a route to healing—emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Dr. James Pennebaker, author of  “Writing to Heal” has seen improved immune function in participants of writing exercises. Stress often comes from emotional blockages, and overthinking hypotheticals. He explains, “When we translate an experience into language we essentially make the experience graspable.” And in doing so, you free yourself from mentally being tangled in traumas.

Studies have also shown that the emotional release from journaling lowers anxiety, stress, and induces better sleep.

9. Spark Your Creativity

Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages” has become the panacea for unlocking creativity amongst anyone and everyone. Our struggle isn’t whether we’re creative, it’s how to let it flow.

Her powerful tool is simply to write without thinking—“stream of consciousness” writing. Beyond overcoming writer’s block, stream of consciousness writing brings out thoughts and ideas you never knew you had in you, and loosens up your expressive muscles. She recommends three pages, done first thing in the morning. Including even one page as part of your journaling will get your creative juices flowing.

10. Self-Confidence

Journaling about a positive experience allows your brain to relive it. And reaffirms your abilities when the ugly head of self-doubt appears. The release of endorphins and dopamine will boost your self-esteem and mood. These reflections can become a catalog of personal achievements that you continue to go back to.

As you work to incorporate journaling into your life, remember the elephant is best eaten one bite at a time. Patience and consistency are crucial in forming new habits. Begin writing perhaps 3 days a week, first thing in the morning or before sleeping.

22 Responses to “10 Surprising Benefits You’ll Get From Journaling”

  1. March 22, 2015

    SS Reply

    Where and how do we fit this into our day? I’ve tried to incorporate journaling into my every day for a while but always unsuccessfully. Any tips?

    • April 6, 2015

      [email protected] Reply

      Hi SS,

      Creating new habits can be challenging. I’ve found giving yourself “pre-commitments” can be helpful — start off with something small like every morning 15 minutes for 7 days, and then build your way up from there.

      Thai.

  2. April 2, 2015

    Dawn Herring Reply

    Thai,
    I read a lot of articles and blog posts about journal keeping as host of #JournalChat Live, but I just love the detailed benefits you show here that truly cover many life dimensions. My favorites, which I personally experience, are the mindfulness quotient leading us to be in the present moment more often, emotional intelligence which can increase the quality of our relationships, as well as being able to recall things more readily. It amazes me how my body can respond in a healing fashion by doing something I enjoy so much.

    I have chosen your post, 10 Surprising Benefits You’ll Get from Keeping a Journal, as Dawn’s #JournalChat Favorite on 4/2/15. I will share a link on social media, on my website and in my monthly Refresh Journal.

    I appreciate your enthusiasm for journaling.
    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring

    (I originally attempted to comment on the Huffington Post article but ran into technical issues.)

    • April 6, 2015

      [email protected] Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Dawn. I’m honored that you’ll be featuring my post. Send me a link if you’re able and I can also share on social media.

  3. […] finally a rousing article from theutopianlife.com, about the 10 Surprising Benefits You’ll Get From Journaling. I heard Nathan’s interview with Thai Nguyen in his podcast on his site, Write4Life and I was […]

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  13. January 12, 2016

    Dan Neamtu Reply

    Love it! after all is easy to keep a jurnal, it’s about self discipline, like point 6. Cheers!

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