5 Health Benefits of Journaling (+ Morning Pages)
Morning pages is an exercise in which you write three full pages in the morning. You can write anything: a story, a reflection, goals for the day, general stream of consciousness, anything.
I have tried morning pages once before, during the summer. My biggest issue is that I am a slow writer. It took me over an hour to write 3 pages each morning. If I had kept up the habit, perhaps I would write a bit faster. But after two and a half weeks I stopped.
Now, I am picking up morning pages again. However, I am altering the rules for myself a bit. Instead of three pages, I will write two. That’s it, just two. If two are too much for me, then I’ll bump down to one. My mornings are tight as it is, but I feel I can at least wake up 15 minutes early to scribble down some thoughts on the front and back side of a sheet of paper. Besides, there are so many health benefits to taking the time to write. Below I’ve outlined 5 reasons you should pick up journaling, too.*
5 R E A S O N S
You Should Pick up Self-Expressive Writing (aka journaling):
01 / You are unplugged
It is good for your health to step away from your screens every once in a while and simply unplug. Excessive tech use, specifically staring at a screen for long periods of time, can...
02 / Journaling helps reduce stress and anxiety
The University of Rochester Medical Center states, “…a journal [is[ a helpful tool in managing your mental health."Journaling is a creative, emotional outlet. It gives you control and allows you to express your own thoughts, feelings, and overwhelming emotions without inhibition. According to a study published in 2004, writing about positive experiences can increase your mood positively. That’s not to say you should not write about traumatic experiences either. There are also benefits to that (skip to 4 for more)
03 / Writing you to prioritize your goals and tasks
Writing down what you want accomplish helps you to remember your goals, keep them in order, and, actually accomplish them. According to Forbes, a study completed by Gail Matthews at Dominican University found that subjects wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write down their goals. (Unfortunately I could not find the exact study to pull a stat from, but I feel it’s safe to believe Forbes.)
04 / Recording can help you deconstruct big events in your life
There’s no doubt writing about an event can help you to better understand it and even work through it. If you’re a big compartmentalizer (like I am) then this a great benefit of journaling. You can process your thoughts in a private domain without truly exposing them to the world. In her published doctorate thesis at Eastern Michigan University, Briana Murnahan surmises a 1996 study from doctors Pennebaker and Francis that, “…writing about significant life events allows individuals the opportunity to find meaning and increased understanding of their emotional reactions to the event."
05 / Writing can boost your immune system
Turns out, writing can boost your immune system! Who would of guessed? I assume it is because writing relieves stress and stress is linked to health, however I cannot be sure. It was a bit hard for me to find studies that I could fully access that went in to greater detail as to why writing improves your physical health. Nonetheless, there is evidence that the action of scribbling down your thoughts can lead to fewer doctor visits.
Murnahan deduces another study, this time by doctors Pennebaker, Kieclot-Glaser, and Glaser, in which they found “...enhanced immune function in college students who were asked to write about their most traumatic experiences for 15-20 minutes per day for four days.” Murnahan also reports “…writing about emotional topics has been associated with fewer physician visits."
*Please note that many of the linked journals and articles have a test group of primarily college students. Please check out the references in full to learn more about the studies if curious.
Do you write? Journals or fiction or poetry, whatever it is, let me know in the comments below!
- G R A C E