Journaling and Your Mental Health

Journaling has been recommended for years as a way to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression—but mood journals are unique.

Unlike regular journals, which are usually meant for chronicling your day-to-day life, mood journals are a place to focus specifically on your feelings and emotions. They’ve become increasingly popular, as apps and online mood trackers have emerged on the Internet. But they are more than just a trend: Research shows they can be effective tools to help people manage chronic health conditions.

A study published in the journal JIMR Mental Health looked at 70 adults with various medical symptoms who also experienced anxiety. Participants were asked to keep a web-based journal for 15 minutes a day, three days a week, for 12 weeks. Those who did so reported less stress and better moods. People with diabetes are often bothered or stressed out by experiences or challenges in our lives, and this can crowd out or displace positive experiences, thoughts and reflection. Journaling allows you to refocus on more positive topics, such as good experiences or strong relationships. That, in turn, can tamp down stress hormones that affect overall health.

A landmark study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that people who wrote about past traumatic experiences had lower blood pressure and heart rates, as well as increases in T-cells, which help fight disease, compared with those who wrote about superficial things.

Feelings to the forefront

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