Keeping a journal is easy, convenient, and great for mental health
Bullet journals are the minimalists’ dream form of their teenage diary. Journaling, in general, is the act of keeping a record of your personal thoughts, feelings, insights, or anything else. Writing in a journal or bullet journal is a simple, low-cost way of improving your overall health and well-being.
Evidence demonstrates that using a bullet journal helps you create order when your world feels like it’s in chaos. You get to know yourself by revealing your most private fears, thoughts, and feelings. Look at your writing time as personal relaxation time. It’s a time when you can de-stress and wind down. Write in a relaxing and soothing place, maybe with a cup of tea.
Look forward to your journaling time. After all, you’re doing something good for your mind and body.
Despite journaling sometimes feeling like work, the benefits and gains from practicing this healthy habit far outweigh that eustress. Honestly, you may want to write that part in your next journal entry.
Benefits of using a bullet journal
We heard a lot about bullet journals and journaling in general. Here are the specifics of what bullet journals are really good for. From stress, anxiety, ADHD, writing productivity, and pretty much anything else your brain throws at you, there’s a direct benefit from articulating those thoughts in a journal.
Overall, using a bullet journal and expressive writing has been found to
- Boost your mood
- Enhance your sense of well-being
- Reduce symptoms of depression before an important event (like an exam)
- Reduce intrusion and avoidance symptoms post-trauma
- Improve your working memory
Reduce anxiety and stress by using a bullet journal
Anecdotes and science both show that writing about your feelings is linked to decreased mental distress. In a study, researchers found that those with various medical conditions and anxiety who wrote online for 15 minutes three days a week over 12 weeks had increased feelings of well-being and fewer depressive symptoms after one month. Their mental well-being continued to improve during the 12 weeks of journaling.
An overabundance of stress can be damaging to your physical, mental, and emotional health. Journaling is an incredible stress management tool, a good-for-you habit that lessens the impact of physical stressors on your health. In fact, a study showed that expressive writing (like journaling) for only 15 to 20 minutes a day three to five times over the course of a four-month period was enough to lower blood pressure and improve liver functionality. Plus, writing about stressful experiences can help you manage them in a healthy way. Try establishing journaling as a before-bed meditation habit to help you unwind and reduce stress.
Identify triggers and mitigate mood swings with your bullet journal
Do you want more positivity in life? A unique social and behavioral outcome of journaling is this: it can improve your mood and give you a greater sense of overall emotional well-being and happiness.
Foundationally, writing about an emotional event can help you break away from the nonstop cycle of obsessively thinking and brooding over what happened — but the timing matters. Some studies show that writing about a traumatic event immediately after it happens may actually make you feel worse. Brain scans of people who wrote about their feelings showed that they were able to control their emotions better than those who wrote about a neutral experience. Further, this study also found that writing about feelings in an abstract way was more calming than writing vividly.
Increase mindfulness and become more self-aware by bullet journaling
Writing down your feelings about a difficult situation can help you understand it better. The act of putting an experience into words and structure allows you to form new perceptions about events.
Journaling helps keep your brain in tip-top shape. Not only does it boost memory and comprehension, it also increases working memory capacity, which may reflect improved cognitive processing.
Related to mood is how journaling benefits overall emotional health: As journaling habits are developed, benefits become long-term, meaning that diarists become more in tune with their health by connecting with inner needs and desires. Journaling evokes mindfulness and helps writers remain present while keeping perspective. It presents an opportunity for emotional catharsis and helps the brain regulate emotions. It provides a greater sense of confidence and self-identity.
Journaling can help in the management of personal adversity and change, and emphasize important patterns and growth in life. Research even shows that expressive writing can help individuals develop more structured, adaptive, and integrated schemes about themselves, others, and the world.
Potentially speed up physical healing
Journaling may also have an impact on physical health.
Writing about traumatic, stressful, or emotional events has been found to result in improvements in both physical and psychological health, in non-clinical and clinical populations. To that end, expressive writing can even be used as a therapeutic tool for survivors of trauma and in psychiatric settings.
The science behind using a bullet journal for healing
A study on 49 adults in New Zealand found that those who wrote for 20 minutes about their feelings on upsetting events healed faster after a biopsy than those who wrote about daily activities. Similarly, college students who wrote about stressful events were less likely to get sick compared to those who wrote about neutral topics like their room.
Women with breast cancer who wrote positively or expressively about their experience with the disease had fewer physical symptoms and fewer cancer-related medical appointments.
Expressive writing can strengthen your immunity and decrease your risk of illness. Those who journal boast improved immune system functioning (it strengthens immune cells!) as well as lessened symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Expressive writing has been shown to improve liver and lung function and combat certain diseases; it has even been reported to help the wounded heal faster.
Researchers also noted that writing about negative emotions may increase anxiety and depression levels, so try not to ruminate too much on the bad versus the good or neutral.
How to start a bullet journal
Don’t set your expectations too high. You should be realistic towards yourself and your goals. Don’t expect too much of yourself if you’ve not written expressively or journaled in literal years. Sometimes we’re our hardest critics, and we don’t need to be. You’re doing great for trying!
Journal using nearly anything. Often you see these really glamorous and complicated journals that designers build from scratch using a plethora of scrapbooking materials. That’s great and all, but you don’t need the aesthetics to start a healthy habit. Go with whatever you’re more comfortable with and is more convenient for you. You can even use a voice memo to achieve the same benefits!
Do what feels right. When you’re first starting out, keep it simple. Journal only for a few minutes and set a timer. There’s no hard-and-fast rule on what you should write. It’s your space to create whatever you want to express your feelings. Don’t worry about spelling or sentence structure or what other people might think. Some people may prefer to write only if something is bothering them, writing about an event that was stressful or emotional for you may be more beneficial to your mental health than just diary writing.
Practice gratitude using a bullet journal. Giving thanks is good for your mental health. Start off by listing three things that you’re grateful for. These can be small things like a walk in the park, a delicious cup of coffee, or good weather. You can make a list or write full sentences. Details may help you relive the positive moments of your day. How did the sunshine feel on your face? What feelings did the smell of coffee bring?
Flex some creativity. You might not be sure where to start with journaling or you might be reluctant if you’re not fond of writing. But journaling doesn’t have to be just about writing sentences. Try different formats. Write lists, make poetry, compose a song, write a letter, draw some art, or jot down a few bullets of thoughts. You can also find writing prompts online that inspire you.
Make it a habit. Pick a time of the day that’s good for you. It could be the first thing you do when you wake up or the last thing you do before going to sleep. Healthy habits are great in so many ways, from improving cognitive abilities and staving off disease, to helping you achieve goals and reach mental health milestones. This is for you, not for the media, so make it a habit you can rely on!
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