The origin of journaling
For centuries now the human race has indulged itself in some form of journaling – from carving on cave walls to jotting down mathematical equations. We sure have come far from our cave-dwelling forefathers who scratched the walls to today’s digital apps for journaling on our cell phones!
Putting our thoughts on cave walls or sandy beaches or digital apps is in our very nature. Yet, so few of us sit with a cup of tea by a bay window writing in a diary dreamily. Its way more fun drooling over our favorite celebrities Instagram post or browsing our friends on Facebook. But journaling is scientifically proven to deliver significant benefits. Read on to learn how journaling can transform your life and health!
First things first, journaling as we know of today did not come into the limelight until the seventeenth century. If you’re imagining a middle-aged round-bellied beard-stroking pipe-smoking man whining about his nagging wife and crying children by filling pages after pages about his agony, you are probably right. If not, well now you know. Philosophers, playwrights, navigators, politicians, doctors, and scientists around the world started carrying notebooks (or empty scrolls) around to maintain a mental map by jotting down the ideas that were flitting about in their brains as soon as they could – which is also one of the reasons the activity is known as “journaling”. This increased their productivity and enhanced creative thinking.
Reflective Journaling and its History
However, reflective journaling as a hobby (the journaling that you probably thought of the first time you read the title) came into existence sometime around the 1970’s. Having said that, historians and literary experts believe that this form of journaling existed almost two centuries before it became popular, and it is easy to see why – reflective journaling is seen as something that is very personal to an individual and not something people would readily share with the general public unlike Einstein’s notes on Relativity or Darwin’s notes on Evolution (after all, who would be interested in reading about a man getting emotionally beat up by his family). Life was simpler. Journaling was the only “tool” to track ideas, thoughts, emotions and more.
Famous Personalities Laid Hands on Journals too!
Talking about famous personalities, it is interesting to note that many notable personalities over the ages have indulged themselves in journaling. Author Mark Twain, scientist Marie Curie (fun fact – you will probably have to wait around for another thousand years before laying a hand on her journals due to the copious amounts of radioactive substances that they reek of), famous explorers Lewis and Clark, inventor Thomas Edison, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, Renaissance icon Leonardo da Vinci, German composer and pianist Beethoven, Star Wars creator George Lucas, comedian Larry David, business magnate John D. Rockefeller, scientist Isaac Newton, Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, and many others have been known to keep journals in some form.
Journaling is the cheapest, most effective, drug (with no side effects) that you can take to get healthier! Let’s take a look at some ways in which journaling can help you reach your health and life goals:
Helps with a Healthy Mind
Maintaining a journal has been associated with a healthy mind for at least four decades now. In a study conducted by psychologists at the University of California it was found that writing about emotional events or writing regularly in general, can improve emotional functioning by stabilizing one’s mood. Given the rise in anxiety and depression nationally, we should all be journaling to keep our minds healthy and happy.
Helps with Weight Management
It is a well-known story that starting an exercise regime or a diet plan (or both for that matter) is not the hardest part, but being consistent with them is. By recording your diet and exercise regime in a health journal you can start tracking your daily routine. More importantly, you can identify when and what stops you from keeping your fitness resolutions. Also, knowing that there is a record of your activities leaves little room for you falter on your plans and keeps you motivated to keep going day in and day out.
Helps Heal Faster
Though using a journal as an emotional vent and regulator has been long known, the research into the benefits of journaling to help heal wounds faster is steadily gaining momentum. In one study done by researchers led by Elizabeth Broadbent in New Zealand, it was found that among the people who had undergone a biopsy, the ones who maintained an expressive journal wherein they jotted down memories of traumatic events or experiences healed faster than the ones who did not. The reasons have been assumed to be psychosomatic, and more research is continuing in the field to ascertain the exact science behind it.
Helps lower Blood Pressure
Following up on the psychosomatic healing powers of journaling, it has also proven to be beneficial for those who have high blood pressure and experience difficulty in keeping it down even after consuming pills. More often than not blood pressure spikes due to unhealthy interpersonal interactions which can adversely affect one’s mood. By way of writing down one’s emotional journey in those moments, the mood is stabilized and hence helps keep the blood pressure from rising too high. Another benefit of keeping the blood pressure in check is the prevention of premature cardiac arrests and strokes which are rampant in the population diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Sleeping well is just as important for the mind and body as is exercising. Studies have shown that for those who suffer from insomnia or have trouble falling and/or staying asleep, maintaining a gratitude and expressive journal can work wonders. Simply taking out ten minutes right before going to bed to write down the events that happened during the day or to make a note of the innumerable feelings and thoughts racing through one’s mind at night can help the mind slow down a bit and feel at ease which helps in having quality sleep.
Journaling, if done regularly, can prove to be a boon for one’s memory since it helps us to not just keep a track of our daily activities, but to become more focused in all areas of life. It helps to improve concentration which in turn leads to better output at work and at home. Studies have shown that writing involves the use of both sides of the brain – while the left side of the brain is busy focusing on the act of writing, the right side of the brain is free to let ideas flow on to paper, which means that you are essentially making use of all of the brain power, this increases the brain’s capacity to processes oodles of information without feeling heavy, thereby decreasing the chances of a burnout. Using a journal to create mental maps of ideas that you encounter in your daily life or to make notes of things to remember or the things you have learned can be a great way to keep your mind active and your memory sharp. So once you’re at it, you can say goodbye to lost time and lost opportunities as there is no tangled mess of half-forgotten tasks for your mind to painstakingly clean up anymore.
Helps Find Root Cause
If you have a health issue, say allergies or gut issues, you have to be a great detective to find the root cause. Doctors recommend elimination diets which are hard to follow and even harder to track. Journaling can make it much easier and simpler to find the root cause so you can start to remove it. For general life problems too journaling can be instrumental in helping you find the right answer. Usually problem-solving is seen as an analytical exercise, seldom overlooking the contribution of creativity to the process. As mentioned earlier, writing in a journal lights up the entire brain encouraging it to participate completely in helping you solve problems and unearthing the genius that had been hiding within you.
Gets You Organized
Getting healthier is quite a juggling task! What to eat, when to workout, what supplements to take, which diet to follow, which tests to get done ….whew, it could be the most confusing full-time job you’ve ever had. Well, journaling can simplify it and make it seem less daunting. Benjamin Hardy recommends, “As part of your morning creative burst, use your journal to review and hone your daily to-do list.” Developing a habit of writing regularly in the morning to jot down your priorities can help you become more organized, solidify your goals, create a plan of action, and avoid getting caught up in hassles.
Relieves Stress and Opens the Mind
Often getting healthier means keeping an open mind and trying new remedies. Maintaining a journal helps you broaden your horizons and become more receptive to new ideas and perspectives. Journaling is not just an opportunity for the mind to recenter but an effective tool to maintain your calm if caught in a stressful situation (side note by David Sedaris, “It’s an invaluable aid when it comes to winning arguments”). It helps you develop assertiveness and increases your self-esteem.
Boosts your IQ
Regular journaling helps enhance the brain’s capacity to process language – it helps increase your vocabulary and thereby encourages you to involve wit, humor, sarcasm, and subtle intentions in your writing style. This helps increase the brain’s capacity for handling and processing information thereby leasing to an increase in your overall intelligence.
The method of journaling can vary depending on one’s needs and it is always a good idea to try and experiment with different methods – a small notepad that fits in your pocket and helps you jot down things to remember (also known as memory aids) or a health journal by the bed that helps you track your health and practice gratitude to ensure you sleep better.
You don’t have to be a Pulitzer-winner to get the amazing benefits from journaling. You can spend just 10 minutes a day to transform your health and your life, so why not start today with this free 30-day Health Journal (we will email you as part of our free gift). So let us close with an important lesson from Jack London, “Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter. And lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.”
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