Did you know that there is power in putting pen to paper? There is increasing evidence that journaling has a positive impact on one’s mental and physical well-being. According to research by Dr. James Pennebaker and Dr. Joshua Smyth, journaling can boost immune functioning in patients with such illnesses as HIV/AIDS, asthma and arthritis. Pennebaker believes that expressing your thoughts and feelings about difficult experiences can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression because you are able to make the experience more manageable, thus reducing the impact of the stressors on your overall health. Dr. Rachel Remen believes that keeping a journal helps us to break our habitual way of seeing things and realize that our lives have much more meaning than we know. According to Remen, journaling daily can help you to see your life differently and find greater joy and satisfaction in it.
Consider introducing journaling into your daily routine so that you can clarify your thoughts and feelings, improve your mood, enhance your physical health and develop a greater appreciation for yourself and others.There are many ways to journal. Remen recommends this journaling exercise.
Find a quiet place and mentally review your day backwards, beginning in the present moment. Recall everything about your day. Review your day backwards THREE times, each time asking yourself a different question:
(1) WHAT SURPRISED ME TODAY?
(2) WHAT TOUCHED MY HEART TODAY?
(3) WHAT INSPIRED ME TODAY?
Give yourself at least 20 minutes to journal your responses to these questions. This is a process that requires patience because you might find it difficult to answer these questions. In time, you will begin to realize that more and more things surprise, touch and inspire you, a sign that you are “growing new eyes” and fostering a healthy new attitude.
Make journaling a 2016 goal for yourself and see how it works for you! If you are experiencing intense uncomfortable thoughts and emotions, make sure to reach out to a mental health professional to get some additional support.