Have you ever wondered what the point of journaling is—why people do it or how it could be useful? Well, I want to share with you a few of the benefits that you might experience when journaling.
First, I think it’s important to note that human beings are very complex and that science can tend to oversimplify correlations between our behaviors and brain processes. Nevertheless, the studies that have been done seem to suggest that writing out our emotions activate the amygdala, which is the part of your brain responsible for emotions. The more you journal about your emotions, the more it reduces the amygdala’s response which in turn decreases the severity of negative emotions. Now, this doesn’t mean that EVERY time you experience negative emotions, journaling is going to be the “cure” for that; but it does mean that journaling certainly could be a tool used to help manage emotions in the long term. As a therapist, I have experienced client’s who are distressed by the intensity of their negative emotions, and what tends to help them become less distressed is being able to identify the emotions, how the emotions are impacting them and recognizing that emotions are just that: emotions. Emotions are not the end-all be-all of truth—God is. So, if we can write out and sift through our emotions and thoughts, and then write out how God’s Truth relates to that, then we begin to come to a more clear and balanced understanding of which emotions are spiraling out of control on the basis of a lie and which are grounded in an experience that may be true and needs healing through our relationship with God and others.
Journaling can also help in building discipline. Let’s say you’re wanting to get into the habit of reading your bible more consistently and praying on a daily basis. It can be difficult to stick to a goal or a plan if it’s purely theoretical and we are keeping track in our minds—though not impossible! Journaling allows you to see the goals concretely and helps you track your progress. Be careful, though, especially when doing this with bible reading and prayer. We can easily get sucked into focusing more on checking off the boxes than what the actual goal is—spending time with God. You can even use this technique of journaling to help you stay on track with lifestyle changes such as eating habits and physical activity. This is a major benefit for those who are forgetful or who let the day get away from them (like me!).
Lastly, journaling can be a great way to keep track of memories or to send messages to loved ones in a way that can be experienced over and over again. I have journals from when I was 12-14 years old that I’m able to go back and read. I get to see how I’ve grown since then, how I’ve seen God work in my life, laugh at the cringy-ness of my 14 year old self…it’s just really a joy to have! I can only imagine how much fun it will be for my kids to read those when they get older! Maybe they’ll recognize that I was once a teenager too and really can relate to them when they get to that season of life!! 😆
Though I know there are plenty of other benefits to journaling that I didn’t cover in this blog post, I hope that you’ll find this information helpful and encouraging. What a multifaceted tool to be able to keep in our tool belt!
Share with me on Instagram @fiercelypennedjournals how you’ve benefitted from journaling or what you hope to benefit from it if you’re new to it!