When it comes to writing in a journal, thoughts of teenage girls and the intro ‘Dear Diary’ might pop into your head.

It may seem like a bit of a foreign concept in today’s digital world but keeping a journal and regularly documenting your thoughts and feelings has many benefits.

1. Mindfulness

When we think of mindfulness yoga and meditation are often our first associations. But, mindfulness and creativity go hand in hand. Just as regularly practising mindfulness can help boost our creativity, creativity can help increase mindfulness.

Getting into the regular habit of writing down your thoughts, feelings and observations can help you remain present in moments. Starting your journal entry by noting the environment you’re in, the sounds of the birds chirping, the smell of a scented candle burning, the temperature in the room.

Tuning into these observations regularly will help you gradually feel more present in your daily life.

2. Increased memory

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggest that expressive writing can help reduce intrusive thoughts about events and improve working memory.

Whether it’s in written or online form, keeping a journal or diary substantially improves your ability to remember your experiences later. According to Professor Agnes Szollosi of the University of Technology and Economics, the best time to recall recent events is bedtime.

3. Stress relief

Emotional writing can have a cathartic effect, releasing emotions such as anger, sadness and stress. Releasing the intensity of these feelings can help you feel calmer, reducing stress and anxiety.

One of the best ways to deal with overwhelming emotions is to find a healthy outlet to express yourself, journaling might be just that!

4. Increase self-confidence

Writing about positive daily experiences allows your brain to relive it and can reaffirm your own personal abilities. Releasing endorphins and dopamine through reliving these experiences can help boost your mood and your self-esteem.

5. Helps with healing

Just as emotive and expressive writing helps reduce stress, it can also help you heal, emotionally, physically and psychologically.

Journaling provides the opportunity to relive daily experiences and acquire a deeper understanding of what happened. This in turn can bring closure to certain life events and aid the healing process.

How do I start a journal?

Like many new habits, starting is the hardest part. Once you get into a daily or weekly routine of journaling it becomes a habit – maybe even addictive.

Here are some helpful hints to get started:

  1. Put a time limit on it. Don’t allow yourself to get bored of journaling before you get into. Start out by allowing 5 – 10 minutes to jot down some thoughts, feelings or observations of the day.
  2. Don’t worry about filling a page. Often we don’t know where writing is going to lead when we start. One day you might only get out a few sentences, the next you might fill the whole book! Don’t get hung up on writing a certain amount, whatever feels right is right.
  3. Put it on paper. Although there are apps and blogging sites which may let you journal, writing on paper can help release your creativity.