Even with the popularity of blogs, Tumblr and social media, it seems that the death of the pen-and-paper diary isn’t to be expected anytime soon. Generations of adolescents and adults have turned to journals to organization their thoughts and seek meaning in their experiences, and millennials are keeping the tradition going strong.
The therapeutic benefits of keeping a diary are many, from sparking creativity to reducing stress to promoting self-knowledge.
Even if Tumblr is your medium of choice, here are five reasons to shut your laptop, sit down with a cup of tea, open a notebook and get writing. Even 20 minutes per day could result in the following benefits:
1. It forces you to unplug and recharge.
Although surfing the Web and connecting with friends on social media sites can sometimes have a relaxing impact, sometimes there’s nothing better to quiet a busy mind than to unplug your phone and computer for an hour and sit alone with your thoughts. Recent studies have found that even with the advent of social media, increasing number of teen girls are choosing to unplug and enjoy the benefits of keeping traditional diaries.
2. Gratitude journaling can make you happier.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Happiness is wanting what you have.” Take time to appreciate what you have — rather than focusing on what you don’t — by keeping a gratitude journal. Need a jump-start? Check out my next post on journal prompts to help you get started.
3. Writing in a diary can reduce stress.
Organizing ones’ thoughts in a journal can help facilitate problem-solving and therefore reduce the stress of negative thoughts and troubling situations. Research on college students has found that many turn to journal-writing following times of emotional hardship — rather than other types of writing — as diaries have commonly been used as a form of emotional release.
4. Journaling can help you to “throw away” negative thoughts.
According to a study published last year in the journal Psychological Science, writing thoughts down and physically throwing them in the garbage can be an effective way to clear your mind. The study, conducted on high school students in Spain, found that in the case of the teens who wrote down negative body-image thoughts and threw them away, the negative thoughts did not later impact their body image.
“Of course, even if you throw the thoughts in a garbage can or put them in the recycle bin on the computer, they are not really gone — you can regenerate them,” Richard Petty, one of the researchers behind the study, said in a statement. “But the representations of those thoughts are gone, at least temporarily, and it seems to make it easier to not think about them.”
5. It’s empowering.
Philosopher and psychologist William James once said, “If you can change your mind, you can change your life” — and journal-writing can help you do just that. Writing about the ups and downs of your daily life can help you to get perspective on your experiences and find lessons in them. Keeping a journal is a constant and clear way to remind yourself that YOU — and nobody else — are the author of your own life story.
Do you keep a personal journal? Have you found that writing in a diary helps you de-stress?