Ever feel like you need a few minutes to breathe, relax and escape the rapid pace of life? Mindful journalling could be your medicine for a calmer, more balanced, grateful state of mind. With digital calendars, room for notes and mental health apps so readily accessible on our phones, the thought of keeping a handwritten journal or diary today seems unnecessary. But research studies show that there are several mental and physical health perks to putting pen to paper to write about your day. From cutting your screen time to providing a space for you to celebrate the little things you’re grateful for, if you ask us, the stress-relieving virtues of diary writing and journalling have never felt more key.
1) It shifts your gaze from LED screens
Dedicating time to write in a journal offers some (usually much-needed) time away from our screens, whether you spend two minutes or two hours filling out your entry. Looking at a paper page is much kinder on the eyes than our LED screens and encourages us to retreat to a calm space to write. Pick a place where you can feel truly relaxed and free to express yourself – for example, your favourite coffee shop, a bench in your local park, or snuggled up in bed.
2) Promotes fresh thinking and a clear perspective
Jotting down your positive and negative thoughts each day allows us to untangle emotions from our thoughts. Scribe each paragraph carefully or scribble a short sentence or symbolic doodle at speed – there’s no right or wrong way to keep a journal. However you approach it, you’ll find a cathartic release in releasing what’s on your mind, enabling you to think clearly and discover a new perspective on your behaviour and goals.
3) Allows us to track negative mental health triggers
Journalling is an effective way to spot patterns in our lives. Reflect on your words to recognise the days where you felt worried or overwhelmed, and look out for what might have caused these feelings. Your pages will give an insight into any negative mental health triggers in your life, which in turn you can make an effort to control. Equally, look back on days where you felt your happiest and identify what made you feel this good.
4) Provides a space for grateful thoughts
Noting down one thing you’re grateful for is a simple, helpful reminder of the things that matter most. It helps us to focus on something positive, steering our minds away from any sources of stress. (Recalling moments you appreciated that day also helps to keep your memory sharp.) Jot down something that meant a lot to you at the end of each day before bed, whether it’s a friend who supported you, fresh flowers or some new music that brought joy. This little act of gratitude means you’ll end every day on a good note, acknowledging the smaller things in life that you may have previously taken for granted.
5) Boosts liver and immune function
The benefits of mindful journalling are proven to be physical as well as mental. A 2013 study by New Zealand researchers found that writing a journal helped the wounds of biopsy patients to heal faster (possibly by improving sleep), and writing for 15 to 20 minutes a day three to five times over a four-month period was enough to improve liver functionality and lower blood pressure. A paper in the British Journal of Health Psychology (September 2013) also found that writing about an emotional subject reduced the cortisol levels of its participants.
Ready to de-stress and put pen to paper? Pick and personalise your own notebook for some mindful journalling.