Journaling for Health

I love to read and I love to write. I always say I should do both more often. But I’m a business owner, a friend, a wife, a daughter and a recovering workaholic (with frequent lapses) which means my journaling over the years has fallen woefully to the wayside. However, I came across some research about the benefits of Journaling that I couldn’t ignore. An article titled Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing reports on a number of studies that reveal the benefits to be had from journaling including but not limited to:
  • Improved immune system
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Improved lung function
  • Increased feelings of well-being
  • Improved memory
    and more…
All of the above intrigued me but the improved lung function stood out especially since I’ve had asthma since childhood. Although it’s mild now, running a 5k is still no walk in the park. Therefore if putting pen to paper can help, then I’m down to try it.

WHEN TO WRITE

Although this answer does feel a little canned as I type, the truth is that the best writing time is going to be determined by you.

1. When are you at your best? AM or PM:

If you are not a morning person then an AM journaling session may result in pages filled with incomplete sentences and not so subtle undertones of animosity and coffee craving induced delirium. If you are like me and shut down as early as 9pm, trying to write at night will only lead to entries consisting of jibberish and potentially ink stained sheets. With all that said select your journaling time wisely. A time when you feel alert and focused.

2. Reduce the chances of interruptions:

For me, this is around 5:30-6:00am. Neither my husband nor my dog are morning creatures so that is when I reign queen and have a peaceful house all to myself. For you it may be late at night once everyone is in bed or working on individual activities. Whatever time you select, try to stick to it; this will help create a rhythm and a habit.

WHAT TO WRITE

The research from the article I mentioned earlier reveals the benefits from journaling differ greatly depending on WHAT you write. The best benefits are realized when you write about what you are thinking and feeling. The more personal the better. You’ll want to avoid general observational entries like “I bought some awesome red shoes.” I mean, that’s great, especially if they’re fabulous but let’s be real; most of us create a quick Facebook post or tweet to share those kinds of thoughts anyway.

Stretch yourself, open yourself up and pour it out on paper.If you find yourself staring at an empty page and feeling overwhelmed by its vastness consider using some of the suggested topics below to help you get started.

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Work, Career, Daily Duties
  • Recent or Past Traumatic Experiences
  • Goals for for the year
  • Health desires or concerns
  • Future plans and personal development

THE THREE BLESSINGS EXERCISE (additional activity)

I recently read a great book called Successful Women Think Differently by Valorie Burton (Nicole Selena book club recommendation). In the book Valorie shares with the reader the Three Blessings exercise also known as The Three Good Things exercise. I liked it off the bat and did some more research.

Many of us have heard the phrase count your blessings, but who knew doing just that before going to bed can help reduce anxiety and help you to sleeper better. Apparently experts like Dr. Martin Seligman who is well-known for the Three Blessings exercise.

The exercise:

  1. Right before going to bed think about three blessings or three good things that happened to you that day. It doesn’t have to be monumental it just has to be something that evokes gratitude
  2. Write them down
  3. Reflect on why they happened
That’s it! You don’t have to work up a sweat to exercise the attitude of gratitude.

QUICK REVIEW: Week 1 Growth Goal

  1. For the next 7 days, write in your journal each day for 15-20+ minutes
  2. Make your entries personal and expressive
  3. End each night with a list of three blessings from that day

Want to show off your stylish journal, share how journaling is going for you or blessings your thankful for? Add comments to this article or tag our Facebook page and use #betterme15.