Throughout history people have been writing diaries. There’s nothing new about it. But what is new is that psychological research has highlighted that diary writing for just five or ten minutes a day can have a really powerful impact on our physical and psychological well-being.
The benefits of writing down your thoughts for the day appear to work on many levels. For instance, if your mind is anything like mine, thoughts and feelings can go round and round like they are in a tumble drier. Getting one’s thoughts down on paper can be cathartic; a way of getting them off your chest. A number of psychological studies have been done where, over four consecutive days, people have been asked to write for ten minutes about traumatic events in their life. People doing this simple exercise had improved health, they visited their GP less often and their immune system was boosted.
It would appear that ‘venting’ alone is not enough. Writing a diary also helps us to process these thoughts differently. When we write things down we see ourselves from a different perspective. For example, some research suggests that there are better health benefits when people include such words as ‘because’, ‘realise’ and ‘understand’. When this happens they are making sense of what has happened to them.
Diary writing also helps us to understand what is important to us. We can spot patterns in our daily struggles and focus on creating different endings.
If you want to experiment with diary writing it doesn’t matter if you use an old fashioned book or a web based app. Remember, the benefit of writing is to be gained from the process. It is writing for you alone and not for anyone else. Five or ten minutes a day.
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