The Many Health Benefits of Journaling

The Many Health Benefits of Journaling

Drawing in Journal

Todays' blog post is sponsored by Sacred Lotus Love, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks for continuing to support brands that support me!

I remember being given my very first journal in high school. It had a red shiny lacquer cover with a blue flower on the outside. A little golden lock with its very own key and tons of white pages waiting to be filled with whatever came to mind. I have to admit that am not much of a writer, because as a perfectionist I end up spending more time editing what I just wrote than simply writing down the days events. So instead of capturing my thoughts my very first journal was filled with doodles and random short paragraphs of things I wanted to remember. Things have not changed much over time except for the unexplainable draw towards a beautifully crafted journal and the knowledge that even random paragraphs written in a journal can have health benefits.

Through doing some research on this topic, I found that journaling has even more benefits than I had initially thought. For example :

  • Reduces Stress ( Improves Mood, Fewer Stress-related ailments)
  • Promotes faster Healing ( faster recovery from illness, fewer days in the hospital
  • Promotes Self Confidence ( Feeling of greater psychological well being, reduced absenteeism from work))
  • Sharpens Memory (better recall capability, higher students' grade point average)

sacred lotus love leather journal

Sacred Lotus Love Journal

Reduces Stress

Journaling helps our brains to process and regulate emotions. A study showed that during stressful times our body releases stress hormones that trigger the "fight or flight" response. This, in turn, can cause irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches and many other nasty things that can negatively affect our well being. Writing in a journal requires that we sit down and reign in our thoughts by formulating them into written words, which in itself has a calming effect on mind and body.

According to Dr. James Pennebaker, a psychologist and leading expert in the field of Expressive Writing—a type of journaling that usually involves exploring issues that can literally correct the course of your life—journaling strengthens immune cells called T-lymphocytes and has been shown to be associated with drops in depression, anxiety, and increases in positive mood, social engagement, and quality of close relationships.

Foggy Forest

Promotes Faster Healing

A study from 2013 found that 76% of adults who spend 20 minutes writing about their thoughts and feelings for three consecutive days two weeks before a medically necessary biopsy were fully healed two weeks later. In comparison, 58% of the control group had not recovered in the same manner. 

Promotes Self Confidence

We often forget how many things we do over time and rather than have a sense of accomplishment listen to that nagging monster in our heads that always thinks we could do better. This self-disapproval has a way of feeding itself and in turn, can make us believe that we are inferior or inadequate. Through a rational sequential process of writing and reflecting, it's possible to find natural self-confidence by recognizing personal achievements, goals, and intentions. 

leather journal by sacred lotus love

Sharpens Memory

Expressive writing in a journal is a repetitive motion. One of the golden rules of sharpening memory is to repeat, repeat, repeat! Remember your school days when you were asked to write spelling words over and over? Repetition allows you to build stronger memories, says Dr. Willment. Journal writing makes us revisit events and by doing so we visualize what took place. Visualization is another key factor in strengthening associations. Thin of the name Rose and visualizing a Rose. If you end up writing about the lady named Rose and then go as far as even doodle a rose, you are less likely to forget the lady named Rose.  A journal can also help you organize. Writing down and organizing information reinforces learning and thus memory. 

I have Day One an App that lets your journal and even pops up to indicate it's time to jot down some thoughts. I have found however that sitting down with an actual journal and writing on paper is more relaxing than typing. It turns out that actual writing stimulates an area of the brain called RAS (reticular activating system), which filters and brings clarity to the information we are focusing on. 

For further reading on expressive writing and its implementation, I recommend Lepore & Smyth (2002)Pennebaker (1997a , b ) and Sloan & Marx (2004b).

sacred lotus love journal

Get It Here

How to Journal Successfully

As I mentioned early on my journal entries consist mainly of short paragraphs and doodles. That got me thinking about how I can get better at journaling especially since I have a brand new journal to write in. Here is what I found out ...

1. Use a medium best suited for your journaling 

The main objective is to start to write, so choose whatever works best for you. There are many apps online that can be used to journal, however, I think actually writing in a journal is by far more relaxing than sitting in front of a computer screen. 

2. Set time aside for writing 

Our brains work best when we teach them to do the same thing at the same time. This repetitive motion makes it easier to keep writing continuously. I found out that it's easier for me to write in the morning. So now I grab a cup of coffee and sit next to Barley (my Holland Lop) and start writing. This has become my quiet, reflective, writing time.

3. Choose a Reasonable Time Limit

Keep in mind that you are not writing a novel! Start by setting a time limit of 5 minutes and gradually increase it to 15-20 minutes of writing time. The only objective is to write every day! To help you along set your phone timer to beep after the time is up. 

4. Keep it Simple

Remember how I said I love to edit. Well, there is the key to my failure in journaling effectively. It turns out that you are not allowed to edit - at all !!! Forget about spelling too. Editing and spelling corrections create a break in your thought process. " The object of journaling is to write and not to think," says Maud Purcell

Journaling also allows us to explore avenues we may not consciously want to explore, so if we stop to think, we may run from the very topic our journaling has just uncovered.” So, in other words, put your writing skills on autopilot and hope that you can make sense of it later :)

5. Write in the same place each day

Get comfy! Find a place that feels comfortable for you. Where makes no difference as long as you can go there each day to explore your mind without being interrupted. 

sacred lotus love journal specs

This brings me to my brand new journal by Sacred Lotus Love

 The journal is sold by the same folks who send me the beautiful Glass Tea Tumbler that I keep getting tons of compliments on. 

This is a handcrafted genuine Leather Journal measuring 8.75 x 6 1.5in. The journal comes in white, black and brown and it has all together 240 pages. 120 sheets of 100gsm lines thick and non-smudge pages and five securely bound booklets with section dividers and an Anahata Love design cover page. Each page has a space for the date and two satin bookmark ribbons so you can quickly find the place of your last journal entry. I love the rustic look of this leather journal.

leather journal gift set

When I first opened the package I found a lovely gift box that was sealed in cellophane. Upon opening the box, I found this gorgeous leather journal that included a leather case pen holder as well.

The leather journal has 5 notebooks that are stitched inside the main binder. They are separated by maroon-colored page dividers. Rather than having one huge journal it's nice to have one where you can organize your writing.  For example, rather than writing over and over that I suck at gardening, I can now organize those thoughts into a section about the follies of my gardening adventures. As I populate those sections with the occasional successful harvest, I am to build strong confidence in my gardening skills.  I am trailing off... 

The leather of the binder is super smooth and feels great to the touch. Little warning the pages don't behave and lay flat as in a more traditional journal. I like that though because it reemphasizes the natural feel and look of the journal. The wrap-around tie closure is also lovely and just rewrapping the journal makes you feel at ease. Hard to explain, but I like that motion in itself. Ones I place the pen holder on top and wrap the whole thing up, I feel relaxed. 

Written on the pen holder was love. How fitting ~ I fell in love! The Mantra "Love turns Pages" is written inside the journal where you can enter your name as well. 

I also love the Anahata Love Symbol on the cover and maroon page. Anahat is associated with balance, calmness, and serenity. It is the heart chakra according to Hindu Yogic. In Sanskrit, Anahata means "unhurt, unstruck, and unbeaten"...

Ok, people, it's really early in the morning as I finish off this blog post and I kind of crave my cup of coffee and writing time. I am off to brew me some and start journaling ~

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