Updated: Jul 20, 2021
Ever been in a bad mood, and then been mean to someone?... Or find the same (usually negative) thought spiraling around in your head?
Good news!. There’s a way to channel that inner chaos of confusion, moods, and thoughts. And it’s called diary writing or journaling. (Yes, that thing you probably did in your teens, if done properly, is actually very therapeutic....).
Diary writing helps build cognitive distance from our emotions. As we write and reflect, we are able to recognize and differentiate between our thoughts and facts. It also helps us build perspective on a situation- a bird’s eye view. Because of its many benefits, diary writing has been practiced for centuries and has been recorded as far back as 10th century Japan.
In more recent times, James Pennebaker psychologist and researcher, the University of Texas at Austin contended that regular journaling strengthens our immune cells (T-lymphocytes). He believes that in writing about stressful or traumatic events, writing functions as an instrument
for stress management, thus reducing the impact of the stressors on one’s physical health.
So what can you expect from regular diary writing?
More insight into yourself: you begin to understand your triggers, your fears, and your moods. And learn to distinguish between you and feelings of hopelessness/anger/hurt etc. You become an observer instead of a participant in your thoughts.
Clarity: This distinction frees up the mind, and allows one to have a clearer outlook. Just like storm clouds blow away to reveal a clear blue sky.
And with clarity, comes a less bothered mind, so better decision-making abilities with an uncluttered mind which can focus on the things that matter. And create the composure to remain calm in a high-pressure, high-stress environment.
Resolution of conflicts/ untangling of relationships: As we sort out our inner turmoil in writing, and gain more perspective and clarity on situations, we are also able to relook at our conflicts afresh- and realize that one is willing to make amends, and untangle the knots.
Which in turn reduces stressors. There is a distinct mind-body connection. A stressed mind can be felt as stress in the body (inability for restful sleep, tightness in the neck, lower backache, etc).
This untethering of emotions and thoughts so they move from mind to paper,
All of which increase positivity in outlook, lightness in perspective, resilience to manage disappointments, and an overall more wholesome approach to life.