10 Amazing (and Surprising) Benefits of Journaling

Journaling has become an important part of the self-care movement — as more and more people confirm its life changing effects. It hasn’t yet become as famous as the practice of mindfulness, but perhaps it is a matter of time until it gains more traction.

It is precisely about the benefits of journaling that we are going to talk today. They are many, touching on emotional, physical and mental — and many of them are backed by science, as we will soon discover.

So here they are:

1. Positive effects on your mental health

Journaling has been studied in relation to both anxiety and depression, and found to have positive impact on reducing their symptoms. The reason is this: both anxiety and depression come with cycles of negative, unwanted, repetitive thoughts. Journaling allows you to record and process these thoughts as you write them, approaching them in a more analytical way, while being less emotional about them. As you do so, you might gain a different perspective or be able to confront the fact that many of these dysfunctional thoughts are irrational.

But the mental health benefits are not limited to anxiety and depression. People struggling with ADHD, low self-esteem and obsessive-compulsive disorder can also benefit.

2. Improved immune function

Believe it or not, there are studies that have investigated the correlation between journaling and immunity. Given the benefits outlined above, the explanation for the immunity boost may be the fact that journaling reduces stress levels, along with blood pressure levels. As long as the body is not stressed, the immune function will work better.

3. Aid for stress management

What is the cause of stress? Let me give you a hint:

It is not external events themselves that cause us distress, but the way in which we think about them, our interpretation of their significance. It is our attitudes and reactions that give us trouble. We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.” – Epictetus

This truth has been expressed by many thinkers since Epictetus, including Buddha and Albert Ellis – the founder of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Managing your reaction to external events is what can lower your stress levels. Through journaling, by writing about the events in your life, you gain perspective and can manage the way you respond to them appropriately.

4. A tool to practice daily gratitude

It is highly recommended to use your journaling practice to focus on the positive moments, too. Some people use the journal as a means of complaining about what is not going well in their life, thus magnifying these events and thoughts, and it is a pity.

The daily gratitude practice has been shown to have specific health benefits itself. It is impossible not to have heard or read about the practice of gratitude until now, as more authors and normal people recommend it.

5. Make sense of your life – develop a coherent narrative

While writing in your journal, you are not only recording, but also organizing the events in your mind and processing the thoughts and emotions you had at a particular time.

Life can sometimes be absurd and its events may make no sense at the time they happen, or weeks, months, even years after they have happened.

Humans are ”meaning-making machines”, as Viktor Frankl put it. However, when we become aware of our meaning making we gain a tremendous amount of insight into ourselves and our limiting beliefs.’

Even traumatic events can be processed by journaling. However, make sure you talk to your therapist or mental health specialist before you embark on a journey of writing about traumatic events in your past.

6. Improved memory function

Memory works better as you use it and exercise it more. By writing about events in your life and your thoughts about them, you keep exercising this precious function of your mind, working with storing and retrieving information – which will, in turn, improve your memory function.

7. Improved moods – better emotional self-regulation

Expressing emotions can be healing in itself. Self expression is a form of decompression. We call this “catharsis” in psychology. It helps reduce rumination, a process in which you keep obsessing over the same thoughts again and again. It can help your brain ”cool down” in the state of worrying. This can clear up resources of your brain, which could be put to better use for other tasks. As Dr. Matthew Lieberman from UCLA put it: ”Every journaling session lowers your brain’s reactions, making them less intense, and allows your feelings to become more elaborate”.

“Journal therapy” is real.

Journaling helps you unload your feelings – even when you are in the middle of experiencing them. When you put them in writing and go through a sort of ”brain drain”, the emotions begin to fade in their intensity.

7. Spot patterns

If you analyze your entries, you may begin to see particular patterns emerge – either in your behavior or thoughts, or in the way other people act and react.

8. Improved emotional intelligence (EQ)

Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to spot, label, understand and work with your emotions as well as the emotions of others. Besides recording factual information, isn’t that what journaling is all about?

Gaining deeper insight into your emotional reactions – as well as the reactions of others – is another big benefit of journaling.

9. Improved self-esteem

What is at the root cause of poor self-esteem? It is your self-image and the thoughts about your self. The beliefs about yourself can be divided into two main categories: beliefs of what you are capable of, and beliefs about what you deserve.

All of these elements can be processed and worked on by journaling.

10. Reflect on the important questions of your life

If you write about the events in your life and your reactions to them, it is inevitable to approach some of the most important questions of life.


We hope you will give journaling a fair chance to prove its effects on your life.

If you want to save time and do it many times faster, we encourage you to use the Time2Life App.

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