Literary Activity Has Surprising Health Benefits For Heart, Brain, and Soul
Do you journal daily? If not, researchers have found some surprising reasons why you should. It turns out that men who journal regularly have much better health. Journaling can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and a whole bunch of other diseases.
How could something so seemingly unrelated to health have such positive benefits? And what are the best ways to get started if you’re not already journaling? Read on and I’ll explain.
The Benefits Of Journaling
When we think of journaling, we may think of famous great men who famously kept journals. Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Jefferson, Isaac Newton, Pablo Picasso, and Ralph Waldo Emerson all come to mind as prolific journalers.
But there’s much more to journaling than simply leaving behind some possible entertainment for future generations. And you don’t have to be a great historical figure for your journaling to be of value. Research shows that the mere act of journaling can produce significant benefits for you immediately.
To begin with, journaling is shown to reduce stress significantly. Let’s face it, we all deal with stressors all the time. We can’t avoid that. But it’s how we deal with those stressors that makes all the difference. Studies show that men who have poor ways of offloading stress suffer poor health. But those who have effective ways to deal with stress can deal with lots of stress and still be healthy.
Journaling is one effective way to deal with stress. In one study participants who had recently undergone traumatic events were asked to journal about it. In just 5 sessions of journaling (each session lasting only 20 minutes), the men who journaled had vast reductions in stress.
And for when people do get sick, journalling has been shown to improve healing time. People with chronic illnesses who journal have better outcomes as well.
Journaling has also been shown to improve creativity. Not only is creativity helpful for solving problems effectively, but it has been proven to increase health. The more creative we are, the more our brains are working in balance. And when that happens, we are better able to deal with the challenges of life and still be smiling.
Finally, journaling is shown to improve relationships. That includes relationships with wives, co-workers, neighbors, and friends. Healthy relationships are strongly associated with longevity and good health.
How To Journal
If you’re not yet journaling, then you may need some pointers for getting started.
First of all, there’s the question of whether to write by hand or electronically. Is one better than the other? For therapeutic effect, either is just as good. The question to ask yourself is which is more appealing to you and more likely for you to do?
If you are writing by hand, then I strongly recommend that you get a nicely bound blank book to write in. Spiral bound notebooks can work, of course, and that is fine if it is your preference. However, it is easy to lose pages from a spiral bound notebook. Instead, consider getting a composition notebook that has a better binding. Or, if you want something with a nicer look and feel, you could splurge on a pricier journal. The key is to find something that is durable and that feels good to you.
When it comes to electronic journaling, you have a few options available to you. You could keep your journal entries in word processing files on your computer. But keeping your journals on a hosted service is probably a safer way to store them. For that you can consider a classic web log (blog) or one of the newer, private journaling services. If you don’t mind your journals being publicly accessible, then free blogging is a great option. Otherwise, free private journaling services like Penzu may be a better choice. For most of us, privacy helps to increase the therapeutic value of journaling.
Whether you are journaling by hand or electronically, the next question is what should you write about? And the answer to that the most successful journalers are those who write whatever feels good to them in that moment. The less rules, the better. Remember, one of the benefits of journaling is that it can increase creativity. The best way to achieve that is to throw out all the rules.
So don’t worry about spelling or punctuation. Don’t worry about form. Write as freely as you can. You can write about what you are feeling or thinking. You can write about what is important to you at the moment. You can write poetic verse or you can write in standard sentences. You can also not write, but use your journal to express yourself in other ways such as drawing (for which, of course, a paper journal will be best).
And finally, how much should you journal? The most successful journalers are those who journal regularly. Make a habit of journaling once per day, if possible. If you miss a day, that’s okay. Just pick it up again the next day. You don’t need to write for long hours, either. Even 5 minutes a day can offer benefits.
Journaling is something that many healthy and successful men have done for centuries. Now research confirms that journaling can benefit your health. You don’t need to be prolific. All you need to do is to get started and do it regularly. So do yourself a favor and start journaling today.