Change Your Mind, Change the World

Center for Healthy Minds

University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Does Journaling Boost Your Well-Being?

Pelin Kesebir

By Pelin Kesebir, Assistant Scientist

Journaling, in the sense of writing about one's deepest thoughts and feelings, has been linked to both subjective and objective markers of health and well-being.

  • Experimental studies show that compared to individuals assigned to write about trivial topics, participants who were assigned to write about their deepest thoughts and feelings showed reductions in physician visits, improvements in immune function, and increases in psychological well-being for several months after the intervention.
  • It has also been shown that people who benefit most from such expressive writing over time are those whose essays contained increases in words reflecting causality (e.g., because, reason) and insight (e.g., understand, realize).
  • The idea is that journaling works when it helps people make better sense of their experiences or find new meanings in it. Being able to think of one's experiences in a more organized, coherent and constructive manner reduces the associated emotional arousal and stress.

Tip

Setting aside 15-30 minutes a day for a couple days a week might be a good start to reap the benefits of journaling.