Journaling is enjoying a bit of a renaissance lately, right up there with meditation and mindfulness. Back in the ’70s, Julia Cameron popularized journaling as a way to get rid of all the petty, whiny stuff that muddies our days in her bestseller, “The Artist’s Way.” But journaling is more than a way to clear your mind. Keeping a journal can help you get in touch with what’s truly important, while boosting your mood, memory, and even your immune system.
We challenge you to start a journal if you haven’t already, and write in it each day for at least a week. We think you’ll find the benefits are valuable enough to keep you going after that!
Share your progress in our September Healthy Aging Challenge in our private Facebook group.
Researchers have been studying the effects of this routine since the 1970s, and they’ve found that the practice has many benefits for seniors and can help anyone live a fuller, more present life. Here are some worthwhile reasons you should be journaling.
1. To Preserve Your Memories
Using your journal as a personal memoir will refresh your memory and help you relive fond past experiences. The very act of creating your journal entries helps improve recall, while revisiting entries is a good way to gather information for memoirs or family histories. While your journal can stay private, you can gather information from it to pass information about your life on to future generations.
2. To Keep Your Mind Active
Several studies have shown that journaling helps older adults keep their mind active and their communication skills sharp. It may be able to help slow down memory loss, and it can also compensate for memory loss by allowing you to document and revisit past decisions and actions.
3. To Manage Stress
Journaling can help you manage stress by prioritizing your fears and tracking your anxieties. Writing down your thoughts can help clear your head and supply you the opportunity to brainstorm solutions.. According to psychology instructor Laurie Anderson, positive journaling – where you focus on gratitude and positive self-task – can guide you through times of anxiety and grief. She also reminds us that, if you’re working through grief, journals provide a place to look back and see how far you’ve come.
4. To Help with Chronic Illness
One study highlighted the importance of journaling about what is really getting you down. Researchers found that 47% of patients with a chronic health condition experienced improvement in their physical and emotional well-being after writing honestly about what was impacting their lives. In contrast, people who journaled solely about everyday activities only had a 24% improvement. The bottom line was writing about what really hurts is difficult but meaningful.
5. To Fight Depression
This regular practice has been shown to help with symptoms of depression, help older adults come to terms with aging and lifestyle changes, and help people enjoy the present. Other research has shown that people who are going through medical issues are more enthusiastic about tackling daily activities if they write for 20 minutes a day in a journal.
How to Get Started
The good news is that it’s not difficult to get started with this activity. All you need are a notebook, writing utensil and dedication to jotting down at least a few sentences on a regular basis. If you’ve never tried journaling before, here’s some advice for getting started: