Do you journal? Scrapbook, keep a diary, write a blog? Studies show that people who practice daily writing get surprising benefits.
You can journal in a notebook or diary, on a smartphone app or in a password-protected document on your tablet or home computer. You choose what you’re going to write about; it can be food or exercise, your thoughts or feelings, work, family – whatever you’d like.
Start with five minutes every day and see where it takes you.
Here are a few of the benefits:
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1 Self-awareness. Journaling makes you aware of what’s going on and keeps you mindful. For people concerned with their eating habits, this is a great way to track intake and look for connections. You can track emotional eating or food reactions using a food journal. It doesn’t have to be about food, though – journaling can be about recording life events, vacations, exercise or random thoughts and ideas.
2 Quieting “monkey brain.” Journaling lets you focus and gives you clarity so you can shut out the other voices and quiet random thoughts.
3 Process complex ideas. Journaling lets you review all your thoughts on a specific topic, so you can break them down into manageable pieces and reorganize them for a better understanding. This also makes it easier to communicate your ideas to others.
4 Relieve stress. Journaling is one tool therapists use to help people recover from traumatic events. Reliving an event through words allows you to step back and process it.
5 Tell a story. Journaling lets you write what you’re thinking and feeling with no judgment. You can face your fears, complain all you want and brag to your heart’s content in your journal.
6 Accountability. When you journal, you commit to telling yourself the truth. People who keep food journals report that the act of journaling causes them to pause and really think about what they’re eating. An exercise journal will help you know when to change up the activity and increase intensity or duration.
7 Positive self-talk. There’s a lot of negative self-talk going on. Journaling lets you get all of the negativity out and it can be a great tool for finding the positive. I recommend ending your daily journal with one positive statement about something you did to take care of yourself that day.
Shelly Wegman is a registered dietitian at Rex Wellness Centers in Raleigh and Garner. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org