The Pros & Cons of Journaling

Woman sitting outside journaling in a notebook
Getting some journaling time in!

Several months ago I posted about how I changed the way I journal to make it more enjoyable and meaningful. You can find that post here.

Today I want to talk about the Benefits and Downfalls of Journaling. According to an article on PsychologyToday.com, “Outcome research on the benefits of journaling shows mixed results. Sometimes keeping a journal of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences helps, but often it makes things worse. In general it is likely to hurt if it tries to help you “know yourself” in isolation and helps if it leads to greater understanding and behavior change in your interactions with others.”

“Know yourself in isolation” is an interesting way to describe it, I think. But I think it means that failing to connect with other people, and get feedback etc, is important as well. If you only look to yourself for improvement, solutions, and opportunities for growth, you’re missing out on a whole lot!

The article goes on to give a list of benefits and drawbacks of journaling according to research:

Journaling can have a positive effect on your behavior and well being if it:

  • Makes you step back and evaluate your thoughts, emotions, and behavior
  • Explores solutions
  • Brings your emotions and motivations into alignment with your deepest values
  • Converts negative energy into positive creativity and growth
  • Lowers your emotional reactivity to others
  • Increases tolerance of ambiguity, ambivalence, and unpredictability, which are part of normal living
  • Helps you see other people’s perspectives alongside your own
  • Makes you feel more humane
  • Helps you take a definite course of action.

Journaling can have a negative effect on your behavior and well being if it:

  • Makes you live too much in your head
  • Makes you a passive observer of your life (thinking about how you’ll record it instead of experiencing what is happening)
  • Makes you self-obsessed
  • Becomes a vehicle of blame instead of solutions
  • Wallows in negative things that have happened to you.

Sticking to writing in a journal can be really difficult too, which is why you need to make it enjoyable, and a part of your daily routine. My friends and I were talking about journaling this past weekend, and it came up that sometimes it can be hard to know what to write about. Especially if you are writing everyday! So one of my friends told us that he Grandmother always kept a journal and once told her, “If you don’t know what to say, just write about the weather.” You know what the weather was like so you really don’t have to think about what to say, you can just write it. And if nothing else flows out after that, then maybe that’s enough some days.

I really loved that idea. It gives you a way to stay accountable in a way, because you don’t ever have the excuse that you don’t know what to write.

I think another good rule for journaling is that if you only do one sentence on the days you have trouble figuring out what to write, that’s ok too. Sometimes I even will write down a quote that I really like when I have nothing else to write.

It’s important to remember that journaling is for YOU. Drop whatever preconceived ideas or beliefs about journaling that you have and create new ones! There are no RULES! You get to make up your own!

Do you journal?

Tell me in the comments– Do you journal? If yes, how do you make it enjoyable for yourself? Do you draw pictures? Make lists? Tell me everything!

FREEBIE!!

List of twenty Journal Prompts
20 FREE Journal Therapy Prompts

Interested in trying out my online journaling program? Let me know your email address in the comments or message me on Facebook, and I will send you more information.

Source: The Good and the Bad of Journaling: Use it as a tool to improve or appreciate, Steven Stosny, Ph.D., Psychology Today

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