Busting The Myth: Keeping A Journal Is Not An Effective Way Of Keeping Stress Under Control

 As you look around, you will find people living in distress and despair due to life challenges. Sometimes problems do not have a definitive solution keeping them stressed for a prolonged period. That is when the journaling activity can help them be productive in difficult situations.

The American Institute of Stress that about 33 percent of people feel extremely stressed, while 77 percent of stressed people have affected physical health. In addition to that, the institute also reported that 73 percent of stressed people have affected mental health.

These stats determine the urgency to provide a solution that helps manage stress and provides benefits for the mind to relax. One of the most trending ways to cope with stress is journaling. You don’t have to be a good writer to write a journal. Read the article to discover why the statement “keeping a journal is not an effective way of keeping stress under control” is a myth.

Common causes of stress

Stress affects everyone as according to the Global Organization for Stress, about 75 percent of Americans experience moderate to high-stress levels. It is identified as the primary health concern among high school students. About 80 percent of the working class is also subjected to stress.

As per World Health Organization (WHO), everyone experiences stress at some time in life. While short-term stress is almost a universal problem, prolonged stress leads to adverse effects on the mind and body.

While many other solutions, like exercise, healthy eating habits, psychotherapies, and meditation, help cope with stress, people are still searching for creative ways to deal with stress.

Here are some causes of stress that would be hindering you to live your life to the fullest:

  • Financial constraints
  • Work-related problems
  • Inflation
  • Family responsibilities and relationship issues
  • Personal or family health problems
  • Future goals and aspirations

Financial constraints

Managing finances is the most prevalent  issue individuals face in the present day. This can be attributed to factors such as increasing job cuts, low wages, or lack of opportunities. It keeps a person constantly stressed as they find it challenging to make ends meet.

Due to this exhaustion, many people find it challenging to fulfill their basic needs or wishes, leading to overwhelming stress.

Work-related problems

Another reason for stress may be job instability or increased workload. It also includes the anxiety of completing urgent deadlines or competing for promotion with colleagues. All these work-related problems also add to their daily stress leading to anxiousness and depression.

Inflation

The  eached an all-time high in 2022 since 1996. The price of goods and housing costs significantly increased, adding to the stress of the pandemic. It makes it challenging for people to make ends meet.

Family responsibilities and relationship issues

Many family responsibilities like caring for children and siblings, taking care of the household, assisting parents and grandparents, and being the bread-earner for the family also lead to stress. Family stress is challenging to escape as every member works hard and plays their part to support each other.

Similarly, relationships come with duties and responsibilities that might make a person feel anxious and stressed.

Personal or family health problems

People also feel stressed when diagnosed with health problems, as it affects their day-to-day activities. Sometimes, a person feels worn out when their loved ones are diagnosed with an illness, causing emotional distress.

Future goals and tasks

Planning and outlining tasks can sometimes lead to stress, but when executed effectively, they can help achieve significant life goals.

It proves that stress is unavoidable, but addressing it is very important, as prolonged stress can lead to depression and anxiety. It also causes sleep problems like insomnia, weight problems, digestive problems, thinking and memory problems, and high blood pressure. Stress can also lead to more serious issues, like autoimmune diseases, skin conditions such as eczema, heart diseases, and reproductive problems.

What is journaling?

Journaling is a productive activity that allows you to express your feelings and take notes from your daily life. Through journaling, individuals document their day-to-day encounters, recording sights, sounds, and emotions in vivid detail.

The best thing about this activity is that you can do it however convenient. There is no right or wrong, as many different journaling methods make it a highly personalized hobby. That means you can write any time of the day and mention whatever you feel is stressing you out. You can also make a visual journal and describe your day using pictures.

Benefits of journaling

Journaling has tremendous benefits, but journaling for mental health is scientifically proven.

The best thing about this activity is that there is no correct way to do it, as this activity can take many forms.

Here are ten benefits of journaling that will motivate you to commence your journaling journey and stay consistent:

  • Promotes positive self-talk
  • Tracks daily activities
  • Help prioritize fears, concerns, and problems
  • Assists in releasing deep-rooted emotions
  • Improves cognitive functioning
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves mood
  • Leads to greater well-being
  • Improves memory

Here are some of the main benefits of journaling:

1. Promotes positive self-talk

Journaling is a great way to reconnect with one’s inner self and write the profound secrets buried in the heart. It helps distinguish between complex emotions to identify their true feelings. Once a person recognizes their true feelings, it is easier to cope and feel comfortable in their mind and body. 77% of people report that journaling helped them with self-discovery.

2. Tracks daily activities

If a person wants to make their day more productive, journaling can help them set goals and assign time to their tasks. It also motivates them to carry out these tasks, as crossing out completed tasks makes people feel accomplished.

Journaling allows one to keep track of daily activities and time spent to boost productivity, enabling people to allocate time for tasks they feel are more important.

3. Help prioritize fears, concerns, and problems

Noting your challenges and fears in a journal enables a person to arrange and classify problems that need to be resolved urgently. It motivates people to work on their weaknesses, making them a better version of themselves each day.

4. Assists in releasing deep-rooted emotions

Journaling enables people to express their feelings without fear of punishment, judgment, or confrontation. It allows people to be true to themselves and identify experiences that bring them joy or trouble.

It motivates people to think about themselves more constructively and objectively to get a hold of their emotions, making them more refined as individuals.

5. Improves cognitive functioning

Keeping a journal promotes the thinking and reasoning capabilities of an individual, enhancing their problem-solving and decision-making abilities. It also fosters attention to detail, improving the overall cognitive functioning of the human mind.

6. Strengthens the immune system

Letting real emotions and feelings out help reduce stress, enhancing the functioning of the immune system. According to an article by NBC News, journaling can boost physical health by improving the immune system. American psychologist Dr.James Pennebaker shares the benefits of saying that it promotes the production of T-lymphocytes responsible for strengthening immunity and reducing stress and anxiety.

7. Lowers blood pressure

Higher blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. As journaling reduces stress, it is also effective in lowering blood pressure.

8. Improves frame of mind

Journaling reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety which improves the state of mind and overall mood of a person.

9.  Leads to greater well-being

Besides physical and mental health benefits, journaling enhances the overall quality of life. It helps people lose weight as it tracks whatever goes inside the body. Journaling also boosts their self-esteem leading to healthier personal relationships.

10. Improves memory

Scientific studies have proven the positive effect of journaling on a person’s memory. According to a study conducted in 2001, students who were assigned to write about their deepest thoughts showed a memory improvement than students who wrote on a trivial topic after seven weeks of assessment.

Another study proved the effect of journaling on memory when several undergraduates were asked to write about a past traumatic experience, their best possible future selves, or a trivial topic. After 5 weeks, students who wrote about their past traumatic experiences exhibited an increase in their memory.

Ways to maintain a journal for mental health

As mentioned, many forms of journaling make it challenging to choose the perfect technique that will help improve mental health. Therefore, we have listed some tips and tricks that will make journaling for beginners easy and fun.

Here are four things to consider as you commence your journaling journey:

  • Be consistent
  • Be true to yourself
  • Set up a writing routine
  • Find a journaling technique that suits you

Here are the ways to maintain a journal for mental health:

Be consistent

The first rule to enjoy the benefits of journaling is to stay consistent. Try to write a few lines daily describing your day, your feelings, and all the activities you did. Develop a daily habit of writing as this will help you track your tasks, manage your emotions and improve your mood.

Be true to yourself

Journaling allows you to embrace your true self without judgment or prejudice, offering one of its key benefits. To make the most of the benefits of journaling, you need to be true to yourself and jot down your real feelings. You don’t have to pretend to be right; you can write whatever you feel, as it will help you be more self-aware.

Set up a writing schedule

Scheduling a specific time a day to write your journal will help you be more consistent. It will also allow a person to think about all the experiences they want to write about beforehand so that they are not blank when they start writing.

Find a journaling technique that is suitable for you

There is no right or wrong way to maintain a journal. You do it the way you feel most convenient. Some people prefer to update their journals daily, while others prefer to write weekly. You don’t have to be a writer to maintain a journal. If you don’t enjoy writing, you can opt for a visual or audio journal to note your deepest feelings and memories.

Types of journals

There are many ways in which you can prepare your journal. Add a personal touch to your journal by choosing the colors you like or decorating it with stickers, characters, or drawings.

Now that you have a diary journal ready, here are seven journal examples you can take inspiration from to live more organized:

  • Wellness journal
  • Emotional release journal
  • Gratitude and reflective journal
  • Audio journal
  • Visual journal
  • Bullet journal
  • Food journal

Here are some of the types of journals:

1.   Wellness journal

In this type of journal, you can map out your future goals or tasks and schedule them accordingly. This journal varies from a regular journal as a person does not note his feelings and thoughts but instead makes goals they plan to achieve. It helps in avoiding procrastination and mapping out your tasks accordingly.

2.   Emotional release journal

A journal for emotional release is fantastic for people who don’t share their feelings with others, as in this journal, they can write whatever they feel throughout the day and openly express their feelings. Particularly beneficial for individuals navigating stressful periods, this journal offers solace to those who find it uncomfortable to share their feelings with others.

3.   Gratitude and reflective journal

In this journal, a person notes things they feel grateful about daily.

Ever heard about a 5-minute journal? It is similar to a gratitude journal in which a person notes the answers to the following five points:

  • The reason I am grateful today
  • How can I make my day great?
  • Daily affirmation
  • Three amazing things which happened today
  • How could my day be even better?

4.   Audio journal

An audio journal is a very unpopular type of journal in which the collection of memories, feelings, and thoughts is in audio recordings.

5.   Visual journal

A visual journal serves the same purpose as an ordinary journal, but instead of written entries, it is a collection of drawings, pictures, and sketches. It is a journal of memories, feelings, and thoughts but in visual form.

6.   Bullet journal

The bullet journal keeps a person organized as they jot down things to do or tasks to complete. This journal doesn’t require details and is pretty straightforward. It helps track tasks or other priority chores needed to be done in a given timeframe.

7.   Food journal

A food journal enables a person to track the food they eat daily. This journal is perfect for people who want to control their diet, gain or lose weight and watch what they consume.

Improving lifestyle for the positive effects of journaling

If you feel maintaining a journal is not helping you with stress, try to improve your lifestyle. Here is how you can complement journaling and lead a healthier life:

  • Say no to drug abuse
  • Improve sleep schedule
  • Avoid social isolation
  • Stop procrastination
  • Try the bullet journal method

Don’t find journaling effective? Here is what you might be doing wrong:

Say no to drug abuse

Limit the intake of drugs as it can inhibit a person’s capability to relax. Breaking the shackles of drug abuse will allow the mind and body to regain their original state and function more efficiently.

Improve sleep schedule

Track your sleep to fulfill this criterion of healthy living. Take the recommended amount of sleep according to your age to feel more energized after waking up.

Avoid social isolation

Meet new people to learn more about different experiences in life. Talking your heart to those you trust brings a sense of being heard, cared for, and supported.

Stop procrastination

Don’t let procrastination come your way to maintain a journal as it may affect the quality of writing that would discourage the person to continue writing.

Try the bullet journal method

Bullet journals don’t involve many thoughts or feelings and are simple goals and tasks a person wishes to achieve. Begin by writing three wishes, three things you are most grateful for, and your day experience in three lines daily.

A word from LoneMind

Now that you have learned a new way to keep stress under control, it is time to give journaling a shot and progress towards a happier and healthier lifestyle.

According to a report, it is found that 74% of people benefited from emotional venting through journaling, while 65% reported a significant improvement in managing their day-to-day stress. A third of people said they began journaling to manage stress. The benefits of journaling are real if done consistently, as it can lead to a more productive and peaceful life.

Also Read: How To Prepare For A Stress Test? Why Do Doctors Recommend It?