journaling on a notebook page reflection of words with the right pen

Journaling can have many personal benefits, making it a reward worth the effort and time commitment.

Why is journaling important?

Have you ever wanted to see your thoughts on paper? Would you appreciate a book of the good things in your journey, filled with facts, emotions, events, and the people you love around you? Then journaling may be right for you.

A quaint meaning of “Journaling” comes from Old French jornel, “a day; time; a day’s travel or work”. I like that; it’s broad enough to cover what it means to journal. 

The activity is overall positive, with enough benefits to consider the practice. It’s easy to start and to do regularly. It’s inexpensive, easy to fit into a day, and you can always redact. 

Here, I will cite 17 reasons why scratching ink to paper is worth considering.

writing in a journal quiet room

1. Improve mental function

Journaling is an easy method for collecting memories. For some, those memories could be from yesterday or long ago experiences of growing up.

It has proven to help extend and improve the ability to jump off one thought into more detail or other thoughts that come with the initial memory. I experienced this just yesterday.

journaling helps memory

I remembered that my sister flew to New York City for a contest. Being 8 at the time, details were sketchy, but writing down that memory made me curious enough to ask my sister about it. Our discussion about her trip became a nice new memory with more fun details.

A neuropsychologist, Judy Willis, says writing helps improve information processing and retention in brains and increases attention, thereby increasing memory and enhancing memory function. Using a journal you can record or process a specific period.

clear way in the sky arrow points sunset

2. Reduce stress and anxiety

Writing and experiencing your life on paper can help ease stress and anxiety, which can lead to a better ability to enjoy life. I’ve occasionally gotten up in the middle of the night to do just that.

When you write down your thoughts and analyze them, you may better understand the reason for a problem(s). You may also be able to explore your external challenges. This is a type of forgiveness, of letting go.

There’s too much room in your head to put a finger on it sometimes. Journaling can have an overall positive impact on your mental health. And one way is to wrap your head around issues and reduce the stress and anxiety associated.

3. Strengthens immune system

Healthy people like the idea of doing things that improve their health. Guess what? Some studies point to journaling as a cure—or at least a help to what ails you.

Specifically, personal, expressive writing can help you become actively thinking about healing. This improves the healing of a physical injury and speeds up the healing.

Journaling Lake Michigan
Journaling Sunset on Lake Michigan

4. Helps cultivate gratitude

You may have heard that gratitude—the act of being thankful for life and all that it entails—can help reduce the risk of heart disease and other conditions. Gratitude journaling has been encouraged to improve one’s general outlook and become more positive. Try it.

Write nothing else except specifically for what you’re thankful for. Note the difference. Do it again.

count your blessings

5. Improves communication

The journey In journaling may help us get better at expressing ourselves. It may only happen on paper for a time, but soon, there may be a crossover to interpersonal talky talky. So, we might find ourselves communicating our feelings more effectively.

This may be because journaling can provide a higher awareness of ourselves. Reading to ourselves what we wrote may help us understand the meaning of a message, leading directly into communication with others.

Journals are often utilized as a means of teaching students how to write better to promote the development of their confidence in themselves and their social interaction with others

writing helps heal

6. Helps heal after trauma

Thinking through journaling helps us interpret our feelings about events in our lives. And some traumatic events are severe in most cases- a more severe event.

Finding ways to bring understanding to trauma can improve the recovery process. Writing it out helps you understand and see what has happened. Seeing it through words helps us directly address our past experiences rather than hiding and avoiding them.

The loss of a beloved pet dog can be a traumatic event.

pet dog walking down road
My pet dog, George, was 12 years old, and here he was a month before he passed.

7. Enhances critical thinking

Journaling increases the capacity to think critically. Researchers at the Journal of Nursing Education found reflective journals beneficial in developing critical thinking skills.

8. Boosts creativity

Journaling teaches you to examine unexplored ideas in a new way. When you write about recurring thoughts it may uncover trapped issues. And writing can allow one to look into your thoughts from different points of view.

Journaling doesn’t have to be limited to the ink of a pen. My joy has peaked as a journal writer by gluing words and photos, clips, and pieces of nature.

They may only be scribbles at first but become powerful insights with time.
Journaling may be the thing that helps to find the truth of the story you are writing – it is an environment of honesty.

creative junk journaling

9. Discover your future self

If you go for it and journal and do it regularly, you may start collecting memories about yourself that become references. The references may be events or stories with facts, dates, and people involved. Writing down your emotions or feelings during that time can be another layer of what and how it was when.

It may be that several years later, archival journal books can become a gold mine. Reading old journals helps you gain insight into the journey you have taken and the paths you will take. You can be grateful for writing about your experiences and emotions.

the long consideration

10. Cope with depression

Writing helps you discover what bothers you the most. At least start with the facts as you know them and allow yourself to write down pure emotion.

I used the writing approach as a conversation with two people. This approach has been effective in opening up avenues to why I’m off and ideas to heal.

Journaling can help you find the things that upset you the most. Even if the nagging issues and realities are the same, journaling is useful for saying them ‘out loud’ to open that door of hope.

long road of depression

11. Improves your mindfulness

Mindfulness can help increase awareness of one’s environment and become open to curious thoughts. As you begin writing about the present moment, you begin almost to experience it twice.

I experience it, and I become used to wondering, as in, ‘I’m going to write this down,’ what is the meaning of this event, moment, or feeling I’m having?

This is a way of being aware and being present. Being present can be fruitful in so many ways. Mindfulness helps us appreciate what is and what comes before us.

house at dusk

12. Opens the possibility of joy

If you were to ask anyone if they have joy, family and friends or leisure activities are normally cited. Imagine that over time you find your journaling can become in itself a place of joy.

There’s no escaping life is full of challenges and can be hard…people can be hard. Check the memes out there. Lighten up.

laughing at found humor

If you have children, please, please, please find a cheap notebook and a Bic pen and write down those silly stories. I can’t tell you how much fun it is for all of my family to read the many stories captured in a book.

I find that journaling can sometimes strip away the harshness we experience in the crusty nature of hard times.

13. Develop Strong Virtues

There is a saying from Proverbs, ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.’ We hope to have relationships in our lives that strengthen our character.

The written word has been a sanctuary for most authors and good reason: it helps to sharpen in insightful ways.

I am always right; aren’t you? Scoff as we may at these words, we put our best foot forward in life. But there can be a disagreement coming from my own written pages, and it needs a discussion. Even internal vacillation. Don’t drive your loved ones crazy—write it down (and remember, redaction can be your friend).

finding new skills

14. Find or Sharpen a Skill

Spending time journaling about the many aspects of your life inevitably includes writing about problems and potential solutions. Jobs, projects, and/or relationships have ups and downs. Write about them.

Over time, I have found that the words I write can be my little think tank. As I become more skilled at the process, I improve and possibly take on new ventures that require learning. The journal can be a blueprint for growth, helping you become better at overcoming challenges.

15. Evolve into Art

One of the interesting outcomes of journaling is discovering potential. Because I have journaled for many years I’ve felt at ease experimenting with forms of expression styles like poetry and haiku or adding more than just ink.

Expressing your feelings or describing an event in a poem seems daunting to many, but as a form of writing, it’s within reach of anyone. Moreover, there are so many examples of poetry that it becomes more about taking your feelings for a ride than worrying about someone reading and judging.

If you’re comfortable allowing yourself to be free of restrictions, the journal can be a wonderful canvas. The simple additions of different colored inks or size fonts emphasize. Drawing a diagram or silly stick person draws interest or denotes boredom perhaps in your writing. I like those and I especially enjoy the addition of gluing photos and quotes or words on the page.

journal pages with photos from magazines pasted and an animal bone place on top
Journal page with Objects and Clipping from Magazines

16. Becomes a Get Away

In her book ‘Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg provides thoughtful ways to start your adventure on paper. In the first chapter, she provides these ‘rules’:

  • Keep your hand moving
  •  Don’t cross out
  •  Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar
  •  Lose control.
  •  Don’t think. Don’t get logical.
  •  Go for the jugular

The first time I read and applied these, I felt a bit naked but so refreshed. As time has gone by, the application of these rules and many other ideas has made the process very interesting.

keeping memories

17. Enrich Vacations and Trips

The thought of taking a vacation is filled with hope and expectations, but the vacation interrupts your life. Capturing the details, your deep thoughts, and odd sights and sounds can be a place to return to when the vacation is over.

Watching a sunset over a vast body of water is an opportunity to reflect in peace. Watching children gush over the faces, sounds, and rides of a carnival captured in stories in a book is worth sharing forever. Even pasting a picture in the book and writing about what you saw helps extend the vacation eternally. The stories become lore.

journal and pens

Getting Started – Journaling Prompts

If you’re wondering if there is a magic word to motivate you to get started or to start up again, it’s this: Get your car keys in your hand! Action defeats the sedentary.

Many tips and examples are listed here to get you started, but you need the physical supplies and then a mental and physical space to start putting pen to paper. That’s it. Now, try letting go and follow a tip or tips.

And repeat.

The Many Benefits of Writing a Journal

The “17 reasons” are not an exhaustive list nor the definitive reason for starting up your writing. It’s a start. It’s your journey.

Journaling can help us improve our health. It allows us to process what we are experiencing and follow along to a better view of ourselves. It empowers us to deal with our past pain, heal our past wounds, and gain insights into our future. Journaling improves our memory and helps us recognize patterns in life.

Discover the benefits of practicing journaling.

typewriter journaling


What is journaling, and how does it work?

Journaling is regularly recording your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a journal or diary. It provides a structured space and time for self-reflection and expression.

Can journaling help with personal growth and development?

Yes, journaling is a powerful tool for personal growth. It encourages self-reflection, goal setting, and tracking progress toward self-improvement.

How can journaling aid in coping with challenging situations, such as trauma or depression?

Journaling provides a safe space to process emotions, thoughts, and experiences, making it a valuable tool for coping with trauma, depression, and other challenges

You can personalize your journaling practice to suit your preferences. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach; it’s about finding the best for you. I started at 14 but had to restart at different times. I’m now in my 50th year of journaling, planner note-writing, kids’ story writing, etc…

Can journaling enhance my overall quality of life?

Journaling can positively impact various aspects of your life, including emotional well-being, personal growth, creativity, and communication, ultimately contributing to an improved quality of life.

Remember that journaling is a flexible practice, and the specific benefits you experience may vary. The key is to make it a regular habit and adapt it to your unique needs and goals.

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