Psychological Power of a Daily Journal

A week ago, I was going through a challenging time. I had started questioning the purpose behind everything I was doing, I was confused and stressed about my career. Anyone I tried talking to, for some reason, infuriated me and I started questioning my behavior toward them, the fundamental cause behind it.

After thinking for a while I realized that none of those people made an effort to listen to the full story. All of them started throwing random suggestions over me.

At that vulnerable state of my life, I was looking for a sincere listener, and all those suggestions, even after being precisely rational, seemed to me like a misunderstood attempt to help me.

That’s when I did something that the stoics are telling us to do for the last 2300 years- I journaled. And this where I found the ‘World’s best listener’.

I sat down in front of my laptop, opened Google Docs, and started writing everything that happened to me on that day, with special emphasis on the dark and dull parts.

After I was done writing, I felt a huge sense of relief, as if everything that was troubling me has been taken out from my heart and captured inside the screen of my laptop. And that’s exactly when I realized that a blank paper is the best listener in this world. It is like a space that is ready to engulf your negativity.

“Paper is more patient than people”

-Anne Frank

In this blog, we will understand the scientific benefits of journaling and after that, we will have an elaborated discussion on how you can get started.

Scientific Benefits of Journaling

1. Enhanced Performance

According to a study conducted by Harvard Business School, participants who journaled at the end of the day had a 25% increase in performance when compared to a group who did not journal. As the researchers conclude, “Our results reveal reflection to be a powerful mechanism behind learning, confirming the words of American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer John Dewey: ‘We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.’”

2. Ointment For Stressful and Traumatic Events

Another study by Cambridge University found that journaling helps improve well-being after traumatic and stressful events. Participants were asked to write about such events for 15–20 minutes. This activity resulted in improvements in both physical and psychological health.

3. Improved Communication Skills

A study conducted by Stanford University found that there is a critical correlation between writing and speaking. Writing results in clear thinking, and turn, clear communication.

4. Improved Sleep

The Journal of Experimental Psychology found that journaling before bed decreases cognitive stimulus, rumination, and worry, allowing you to fall asleep faster.

5. Enhanced Cognitive Abilities

Research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that reflective writing reduces intrusive thoughts about negative events and improves working memory. These improvements in turn free up our cognitive resources for other mental activities, including our ability to cope more effectively with stress.

Ultimate Guide To Journaling

  • Start small
  • You are not constrained to write pages and pages long journals. Start small. Write one page every day, if you find it difficult to manage that, write a paragraph only, even a sentence is sufficient. Just make sure you are committed to doing it daily.
  • Write anytime
  • There’s no fixed time designated as the time to write journals. Tim Ferris, the author of 4 hour work week, writes his 5-Minute Journal twice during his day, one in the morning and the other in the evening.
  • Stoics write their journal throughout the day. That’s the first thing they do in the morning and then they carry their notebook with them and write an account of the things as they happen.
  • Writing just before you go to bed has shown some remarkable positive effects: it helps you to sleep fast.
  • What to write?
  • Write a summary of your day with special emphasis on the troubling parts of your day, if you are writing your journal before bed.
  • Use it for prioritizing your tasks of the day and gratitude if you are journaling in the morning.
  • Embrace the imperfection
  • Your journaling does not need to produce Nobel Prize-worthy prose. Write any way you want to, mix languages, violate the rules of grammar (don’t overdo it) just stay honest with yourself.
  • The best time to write
  • Although anytime you practice your journaling it is very helpful, but it is super-impactful especially when done in the morning.
  • Start your day by writing a few things you are grateful for. Start with a sentence about the mindset you are going to adopt to attack the day with, about your plans for the day, about something interesting you learned yesterday.

While concluding this article, I would again, like to emphasize how important journaling is. It is one of the most effective tools that enhances the clarity of your ideas and boosts your emotional stamina!

Congratulations, on taking another step toward superhuman thinking.

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