Keeping a journal helps you process things and acknowledge emotions, particularly about stressful or traumatic events. By organising thoughts and feelings, you can ‘lighten the load’ on your brain. This – as the New York Times observes – leads to better sleep which, in turn, comes with a whole host of benefits. The science bears this out, too. One 2018 study showed that writing about your emotions for just 15 minutes, a few times a week, reduced symptoms in participants with elevated anxiety.
The benefits aren’t just limited to the mind, either. In another study patients suffering from arthritis and asthma were asked to write about the most stressful event they’d experienced, while a control group wrote about an emotionally neutral topic. The results showed 47 per cent of the first group experienced a clinically significant reduction in their symptoms after four months, while only 24 per cent of the control group saw a similar improvement.
So, if the science says journalling is an effective way to boost mental and physical health, how can you best make it part of your routine?