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The Benefits of Journaling

As best as I can remember, I’ve been writing on a journal since I was a teenager. The notebook and pen became two of my very best friends on the journey through the hormone-saturated teenage years. I lost touch with these two friends for a few years when I explored the corporate jungle. The hectic lifestyle simply did not support nor provide moments for quiet reflection. When I decided to retreat from the world after a few years of elbowing and jostling in the corporate arena, reconnecting with the journal and pen was a vital part of my healing process.

I do not remember neither the first time I wrote on a journal, nor the reason why. But I am deeply grateful for the way this writing habit has enriched my life in all levels.

According to psychologists at the University of Texas at Austin as well as  psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker, writing regularly on a journal has several beneficial effects on one’s health:

  • journaling strengthens our T-lymphocytes, the cells of our immune system
  • it decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis
  • writing about stressful events reduces stress

Other studies suggest that writing on a journal helps remove mental blocks. The act of writing -even if it is ranting- helps clarify our thoughts and feelings. We also get to know ourselves better.

Journaling has done all these for me and more. I have become more aware of and in tune with my surroundings. Life has felt richer, fuller and more fulfilling. Problems become easier to face and resolve when I write about them. The colors and sounds around me become more vibrant when I use words to describe them on the blank page.

There are no rules to journal writing – therein lies the charm and beauty of this writing regimen.

It takes practice to write about personal things, and you need to find a way to write without any expectations attached. This is what journals are for, or notebooks, or diaries, or whatever you want to call yours. This is the one place you can forget about craft. There is no craft to keeping a journal, and that the value of it.Anything goes. Whining, endless descriptions, of weather, walking down memory lane, complaining about not being able to write, writing rants to people you’d never say to their faces, copying down quotes that you love, listing your favorite things, pouring out your dreams, frustrations, pains, joys, fears, and so forth – and it’s all fair game.

-Barbara Abercrombie

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