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Journaling has many benefits for health, as well as life in general. The process doesn't have to complicated. Find yourself a fancy notebook and a special pen if that inspires you to stick with the habit, but a traditional composition book and whatever writing implement is handy are just as effective. One thing that does make all the difference in journaling is putting it on the schedule. Whether it's first thing in the morning or just before bed, setting aside a particular time each day ensures you make time for this proven lifestyle perk.

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Reduce Stress

The act of sitting and writing helps put thoughts and feelings into perspective. Journaling pairs the analytical portion of the brain with the creative side, which often prompts a new way of looking at a situation. The biggest benefit when it comes to stress? There's no need to write about a particular trigger. Simply taking the time to sit and write — about anything — is enough.

Woman writing in journal Heide Benser / Getty Images
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Build Gratitude

It can be hard to feel grateful when life is tough. When someone is feeling down, the act of sitting with a journal and recording a few things they are grateful for can have a positive impact on their overall state of mind. On days when they are particularly low, reviewing previous entries can help reframe their outlook. Research has shown that people who "count their blessings" are often happier and experience less depression.

Woman lying in bed, journaling Bob Thomas / Getty Images
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Improve Memory

Reflecting on things that happened in the past is one way that the brain makes sense of those events. Recording thoughts and feelings helps cement them into the brain. Over time, the act of sitting and journaling on a regular basis can help with memory retention. Like the other benefits from journaling, journaling for memory improvement is most effective when done on a regular basis. Set aside time each day to write.

Woman sitting and thinking at a table Vladimir Vladimirov / Getty Images
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Reduce Intrusive Thoughts

Anyone who experiences intrusive thoughts knows how debilitating they can be. Journaling is an effective way to cope and provides relief for many people. Some people find benefit from simply recording these thoughts. Once they take the time to review their writing, they are better able to understand that the thoughts have no effect on daily life. Others find more benefit from recording their thoughts in writing, then tearing up and throwing away the pieces in a symbolic gesture.

Woman recording thoughts in journal Delmaine Donson / Getty Images
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Builds Confidence in Writing Skills

Not everyone is born a great writer, but everyone can improve. Regular writing each day strengthens not only creative skills but the technical skills needed to become a better writer. Reading good writing and keeping a journal are the two most common pieces of advice experts give those interested in improving their writing.

Woman lying on couch writing in journal Goodboy Picture Company / Getty Images
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Helps with Goal Setting

Writing goals down on paper makes it more likely they will stick. Using a journal to record those goals has an added benefit. To help improve the odds of meeting short- and long-term aims, write down not only the goal but the action steps needed to reach it. Follow up by keeping a daily record of steps taken to meet those goals.

Woman writing in journal photographed from above FreshSplash / Getty Images
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Provides a Spot for Your Thoughts

A busy mind is not always a good thing. It can make sleep a challenge and focusing difficult. Set a timer and start writing. After ten minutes, take a break. Look at what is on the page and decide what matters and what doesn't. Often, the things hardest to ignore are things that aren't really relevant.

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Encourages Self-Reflection

Some people find themselves making the same mistakes over and over. Whether it is problems with relationships, food, or employment, it often takes serious self-reflection to change ingrained habits. Writing in a journal and taking the time to reflect on the writing, as well as thoughts that are dredged up during the exercise, can help lead to self-reflection. Often, when something is on the page, the problems, mistakes, and bad decisions are more apparent.

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Improves Creative Flow

Many people struggle with the idea of journaling. They don't believe they will be able to come up with something new to write about each day. It is true some days will be easier than others, but make a commitment to writing for at least 10 minutes daily. Some days will be spent staring at the page, while others will be spent writing furiously. Over time, the writing will become natural, and there will always be something to explore. It doesn't have to be deep, poetic, or logical — it just has to be words on the page.

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Helps You Make Decisions

Making a pro and con list before a big decision is common, but journaling can help with smaller choices, too. It also allows for more gray area than a typical list. Perhaps the pros are few but huge, while there are many reasons to say no to the choice. Journaling provides a safe spot to put the feelings and emotions involved in a choice. It allows you to see that maybe the choice that sounds best is not the one that best meets your needs.

Woman's hands, writing in journal LeoPatrizi / Getty Images

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.