James McQuillan | April 18, 2018

We live in a world where we are ceaselessly bombarded by information and content. Whether from our computers, phones, workplaces, and beyond, we are certainly overloaded. And as humans, we often tend to internalize that information and bottle it up. While we’ve said previously that a small amount of stress in the workplace can be beneficial for pushing us past our limits, too much with no way to vent is a recipe for disaster.

The most important thing we can do to counter stress and overload of information is to find an outlet! Or various outlets. For many, these span a broad spectrum of activities including exercise, shopping, self-care rituals, and more. One method that may be overlooked is keeping a journal. For many, it can seem strange to write more, something one perhaps does all day at work, to improve stress levels. But this is a different type of writing. And it’s proven highly effective for a multitude of reasons.

So why write in a journal? Keeping a journal or diary is more than just a way to document your experiences and record your thoughts. Recent research shows that journaling is an effective stress relief exercise, and people who write in a diary or other notebook reap both physical and emotional benefits, potentially increasing their longevity.

Regardless of what your intentions are as an individual, keeping a written log of your thoughts, feelings and on-going aspects of your life are exceptionally useful!

Journaling your way to health

One recent study published in Psychotherapy Research found that psychotherapy patients who were told to let out their emotions through expressive writing experienced greater reductions in anxiety and depressive symptoms and better progress in psychotherapy when compared to a control group.

Journaling may help you reduce the amount of worrying you do, too. Another study, published in Behavior Modification, showed that expressive writing was associated with significant decreases in generalized anxiety disorder symptoms, including worry and depression.

Poor mental health is a dangerous and rapidly growing problem around the world, especially as we find ourselves further engrossed in our technology and less able to connect to both our emotions and our fellow humans. Harrowing sculptures have been unveiled on top of ITV’s London buildings to raise awareness around male suicide. There are 84 statues to represent the number of men who commit suicide each week. According to that article, male suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45.

One of the methods used in counseling and psychiatric help has been for sufferers to document their days and emotions on paper. This gives the counselor insight into the thought process and emotional landscape of their patients across days, weeks and months. But furthermore, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center, it allows the patient to regard his feeling as more manageable. Simply writing down thoughts and feelings often allows someone to understand them more clearly. And if someone is struggling with stress, depression, or anxiety, keeping a journal can help him or her to gain control of emotions and improve mental health. It can help you to:

  • Prioritize problems, fears, and concerns

  • Track any symptoms so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them

  • Provide an opportunity for positive affirmations and identifying negative thoughts and behaviors

Journaling allows for a lot of issues and thoughts floating around in our minds to be articulated. It gives us a means by which to express ourselves, cutting down on feelings of depression and anxiety while doing so. There are even companies now who have made themed or guided journals for this very purpose. One example is this “Anxiety Journal,” by Corrine Sweet, which contains “exercises to soothe stress and eliminate anxiety wherever you are.”

Leg Day: Recording your fitness

There’s that famous line in Mythbusters that advises, “Remember kids, the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down.” This is the exact same idea behind keeping an exercise log. On every level, journaling your exercise routine on a daily or weekly basis gives you a recipe for success long-term.  

Great, you absolutely crushed today’s training session with your coach. Fast-forward six hours. How much of it can you remember? Can you recall the weights and reps used on each exercise? Can you remember how you felt after each set and how long it took you to catch your breath? What about the food you ate pre-workout? Most people will answer no to these questions. Recording this data not only lets you pick up where you left off for your next training session, but it also lays out a roadmap to success. The good news for you is that a lot of this becomes your Livekick trainer’s job (so you should probably sign up today if you haven’t already!).

Not only does a fitness log show you just how much you’ve progressed over time, but it also provides a tremendous amount of positive feedback. According to Mari McCarthy, The Journaling Therapy Specialist, founder of Journaling for the Self of It, charting how each exercise session or progress check went and how it made you feel gives you the feeling of empowerment that pushes you to keep going. Either that, or it allows you to find your way back!

Visualization: Write what you seek until you see what you wrote

Writing down what you want in your life can be an amazing self-growth tool. An article in Real Simple provides this insight from Aymeric Guillot, Ph.D., a professor at the Center of Research and Innovation in Sport at University Claude Bernard Lyon, in France:  “Scientists believe that we may experience real-world and imaginary actions in similar ways…” The same areas of our brain are activated, whether we are imagining ourselves performing a task, or actually doing it. Visualization leverages our brain’s natural ability to more easily recall visual images than it does verbal information.

And so we challenge you: turn to a new page in your journal (or… use a piece of computer paper at the office if you haven’t yet purchased a journal) and write down anything and everything that comes to mind when you think of YOUR DREAM LIFE. Continue writing, describing this place, time, moment, feeling… anything and everything that describes how your life will look when you accomplish your wildest dreams. This is a fantasy activity. You can write down things that seem nearly impossible to you right now. In fact, we encourage it!

Spend the next few days thinking, feeling, and writing about the connections between your dream and the present moment. Study that description every single day. Make it a part of you. Visualize it as often as you can. See what happens!

Trust us, journaling can be a profoundly effective vehicle for boosting self-confidence and other life-changing transformations. Are you going to give it a try?!