Why Didn't Mom Tell Me About This?

Mom always said to eat your vegetables.  Our entire lives we’ve been reminded about the basic steps to good health.  By now you know you should be exercising, eating right and getting enough sleep.  But there’s one thing we weren’t told that also has a powerful impact on both our physical and mental well-being: Journaling.

Just picking up a pen and putting it to paper has actual health benefits that are undeniable. Some of the benefits are short term and some are long term.  The moment you glide your pen across the page, you put yourself in the present moment.  You connect yourself to your thoughts and take ownership in black and white.  Journaling in the morning is a way to set the tone for your day and get your ducks in a row.  So how does that equate to good health?  Here are 6 ways:

1) It’s an Immune Booster! Your daily journaling habit is for your health what weightlifting is for your muscles.  When you download your emotions, concerns, challenges and passion from your brain to your journal, you strengthen your immunity and lower your risk for illness. There are plenty of studies that back this up including a 2005 study that found people who write about their stress and emotions were less affected by the trauma and less likely to get sick.

2) Lower Your Blood Pressure.  There’s a reason we recommend carving out 15 minutes every morning to write in your journal.  Doing so 3-5 times a week was proven to lower your blood pressure and even improve your liver function. (I’ll drink to that!)

3) Don’t Worry. Be Happy.  Journaling gets the worry out, and helps hold the happy in.  By writing things down, we’re able to organize and focus our thoughts.  It’s a mood booster.  Writing things down calms your amygdala, reducing the intensity of your emotions.  Brain scans proved that writing helps your brain regulate emotions.  You get a greater sense of emotional well-being.  (Men, by the way, benefited more from this than women. Perhaps it’s because it’s more of a novelty for men to put their emotions into words.)

4) Chill Out.  This is one of journaling’s biggest benefits.  You sit.  You’re quiet.  You get present and you de-stress.  Anything you do to lower your stress level is good for your mental and physical health.  We recommend getting peaceful for 15 minutes every morning.  But we also endorse taking time to de-stress and write down your thoughts as a way to unwind before going to bed.

5) Be Sharp as a tack.  Many people have asked us why we don’t make a digital journal.  NO WAY.  Hold on to that pen.  A recent study at the University of Tokyo confirmed what we know for sure: Writing. On physical paper leads to more brain activity and improves your memory.  Paper is actually more advanced and useful in this process than a keypad.

Sure typing is faster (which is why I’m typing this!)  But recently another study from Indiana University further proved we remember things better and longer when we write it with a pen.  Actually, we start learning the moment we pick up the pen. That just doesn’t happen as fast on a keyboard.  The benefits to your brain are three-fold:  You boost your memory, improve your comprehension and increase your cognitive processing.

6) Get to the Finish Line.  We all have goals and dreams.  And wishing upon a star doesn’t do much. If you real want the good feelings of accomplishing and achieving WRITE IT DOWN IN YOUR JOURNAL.  It makes it 42% more likely that you’ll get to the finish line.  Putting your passion on paper makes it real and gives you a chance to focus on it in the present moment.  It also gives you a chance to get specific, create a time table and perhaps chunk your goal down into small, specific steps.

The lesson is clear, if you want to feel better physically and emotionally, open your Morning Matters Journal and start putting pen to paper.