The Surprising Benefits of Journaling: Why You Should Start Today - Herd and Homestead

The Surprising Benefits of Journaling: Why You Should Start Today

Like most people, you probably think of journaling as a tool for recording your thoughts and memories. Perhaps you kept a dream journal as a kid or wrote in a diary whenever you felt like the world was crumbling around you. But did you know that journaling can be a powerful tool for improving mental and emotional health?

When done regularly, journaling can provide benefits such as reducing stress, elevating your mood, increasing self-awareness, and promoting creativity and concentration. 

But what exactly is journaling?

The term, journaling, means different things to different people. 

However, at a high level, journaling is writing down your thoughts, feelings, plans, goals, and everything in-between to assist you with managing your life and improving your productivity and focus. Keeping a journal can be as simple as writing weekly or monthly in a notebook. Or, it can become as complex as having a detailed, tab-divided book that you revisit and reflect on daily. 

To start, you need a notebook, sketchbook, and a writing utensil. It's that easy. A hardcover sketchbook is an excellent option because it doesn't limit you to words and provides much more creative freedom. 

Writing in a journal can help you reflect and assist with identifying your path forward, which is therapeutic for many. In addition, writing in a journal has many surprising benefits, such as reducing stress, improving your mental health, and understanding your thoughts and values more clearly.

Benefits of Journaling

Stress Management

Journaling is an excellent tool for managing your stress and anxiety levels. One way you can use your journal as a tool for managing anxiety would be to write down what you are feeling when you identify that you're feeling anxious. 

After you write down everything you are feeling and all of the circumstances around your anxiety, you can start to self-reflect and drill down on why you feel this way.

What happened that day that made you anxious? What was the trigger for your stress? Writing down the circumstances surrounding your stressful or anxious situation can help to identify ways to counteract those fears.  

For example, I'm incredibly nervous today, and my hands are sweaty. I have to give a presentation in 10 minutes to my boss. 

Why are you nervous? Is it the potential judgment of your boss? Did you not prepare for your presentation enough? Is it the fear of being wrong? 

It might be beneficial to use a journal to start breaking down the hows and whys to assist yourself with future anxiety-provoking situations. But unfortunately, most people will never eradicate the stress and anxiety they feel daily. Still, we can constantly improve how we respond to these situations to make them more manageable. 

Goal/Future Planning

It's essential to understand and fully scope out your goals and future. Without recognizing what you are striving towards, many people lose sight of what they intended to accomplish in the first place. Although goal creation and planning for the future can sometimes feel tedious, it doesn't have to be that way. 

Journaling your goals is a simple way to get your directional plan written down on paper and stick to it. In addition, it can be built upon over time if spending a few hours writing down all the steps to success and your desired outcome does not seem feasible. 

Start by writing down a goal or aspiration based on a specific timeline. For example, if your goal is to wake up earlier, write something like, I will wake up every morning by 6 am. Every goal or aspiration you focus on doesn't have to be as complex as solving world hunger. You can take small steps to improve your life. 

After you write that down, brainstorm what waking up by 6 am every day will require you to achieve. Do you have to go to bed earlier? Do you need to stop drinking caffeine past noon? What are some actionable steps to achieve your goal? 

Journaling is a great way to plan for the future and identify goals. Writing down your goals and intentions will help you stick to them, especially if you revisit your journal daily and record your progress. 

Emotional Outlet

Writing can be an emotional outlet. However, sometimes structure is the killer of creativity and venting.

A journal can be whatever you make of it if it's helpful to you. For example, a journal can be your emotional punching bag during hard times when you need to get your complex and dark feelings out and don't want to take them out on others. 

Or, perhaps, you're going through a dark period of your life and bottled up all of these feelings of regret, pain, or sadness. You can write down all those thoughts and emotions in your journal. Writing forces you to articulate your feelings into words or images to help with your self-expression. Writing or drawing these feelings can be beneficial for understanding why you're feeling the way you do. 

Freedom of Expression

One of the most significant benefits of a journal is that it can serve any purpose. 

People can use a journal to write down future goals, or others can use it to sketch images that reflect emotions. The boundaries of journaling are vague or non-existent. Numerous articles across the internet will tell you how you need to use your journal for success or sanity. However, every person is different and will require their journal to reflect their own needs and wants to be useful for them.

Start viewing a journal as an individualistic tool that is what you make of it, and start viewing those online articles as guides or starting points if you need guidance on where to begin. 

Therefore, feel free to be creative and develop a journaling system that works for you. 

Record Ideas

Sometimes, an idea will hit you when you least expect it. 

You could be at the park, a kid's birthday party, work, or anywhere else. Inspiration often strikes when you least expect it. Keeping a tiny journal in your bag, purse, or pocket can be helpful in those situations. 

If you need more than just a small pad of paper, your phone can be a great substitute. Just write a few notes down in your phone's notebook, and your phone will capture your idea for you to review later in the day. 

Better Writer

Writing anything is better than writing nothing. 

Keeping a journal and sticking to it is a simple way to incorporate more writing exercises into your life. For example, you want to become a best-selling author one day. In that case, one section of your journal could be writing exercises. In addition, you may visit a website daily to generate a writing prompt to get your creative juices flowing. 

By the end of the month, you'll have written little chunks of work for thirty days. Daily writing exercises may be more writing than you've done in years. Journaling can be a helpful tool to get you on the right path and ensure that you are actively challenging yourself. 

You may not notice it immediately, but you'll improve your writing little by little or feel more comfortable putting pen to paper. 

Future Reflection

A journal is a living, breathing document of where you are at a time. When you have a wonderful day or moment, and you capture that in a journal, those feelings reflect that singular moment.

Although those feelings might occur in a pattern-like way, you will never experience the same thing the same way ever again. 

Therefore, years later, when you've forgotten that moment or need something to help you through, you'll be able to consult your old self. The past can help us realize how far we've come and what we've achieved throughout our lives. 

With time, everything terrible that happened to you in the past becomes something you've overcome. Journaling special or difficult times in your life can be useful to measure all that you've accomplished, even if you've forgotten. 

In addition, writing down goals in a journal can show you the milestones you've hit and allow you to reflect on becoming better in the future. 


Using a journal to document what you're grateful for is very powerful. 

Frequently, we forget everything we do have, and we focus on the things we don't have or aspire to acquire. Taking the time to journal all of the things that have happened over a week that you're grateful for can help you live in the moment. 

Living in the moment can be difficult. Most people live fairly busy lives with routines and schedules that distract them from what's most important- their family and friends. 

Your job will always replace you; your money won't follow you to the grave; the things you buy will never make you feel worthy because they are just small things in life at the end of the day. 

When you're eighty, you will never think about how your first job defined you for the rest of your life. Instead, you will reflect on the memories and the important and irreplaceable moments in between. 

Use journaling to center yourself and identify what you're grateful for; your future self will thank you for it. 

How To Learn More

If you got excited about all the amazing benefits journaling can have for you, see our awesome guide, "Upgrade Your Journaling Aesthetic In 2023" for how to start journaling and create your own aesthetic to go along with it!

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