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11th March 2022
In our last post, we talked about some of the broad benefits of writing manually or by hand. Writing by hand has proven time and again to open a pathway to the brain that we do not access otherwise. Because of its direct connection to the brain, writing expressively has unsurprisingly been documented to have several beneficial effects on the writer’s mental health. Research institutes around the world have conducted several studies on how writing and journaling can be beneficial to mental health and we’ve compiled a short selection to show you how you can look after your mental(and physical) health by maintaining a journal.
When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, articulating your thoughts can help you pinpoint the exact points of stress and concern, giving you the awareness that can help you cope with your stressors. If you suffer from symptoms of depression or anxiety, writing and journaling can help you track symptoms on a daily basis and predict and identify them from an observer’s point of view.
Positive Affect Journaling(PAJ) is an emotion focussed self-regulation intervention. A study was conducted to better understand the effect of journalling on patients who presented symptoms of anxiety and depression. It was found that the group who performed PAJ daily reported decreased mental distress and increased overall mental wellbeing. The study also found less depressive symptoms and greater resilience after a period of two months.
It has been found that the benefits of journaling extend far beyond just improved brain function and mental health. One remarkable study from 1999 found that writing about stressful experiences led to a decrease in ailments in patients who were diagnosed with asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. According to the study, the asthma patients reported increased lung function and the patients suffering from arthritis showed improvements in overall disease activity. This study concluded that its participants made improvements that were not characteristic of the medical care they were receiving at the time.
Apart from the obvious effect of writing something down on one’s memory, journaling can also have an indirect positive effect on mental health. Over a long term, journaling can help you remember the things that you overcame and how you did it even though you might have completely moved on from that particular incident in real life.
Regular journaling has also been found to boost the immune system. Studies have shown expressive journaling for 15-20 minutes every day lowers levels of cortisol and adrenaline while also strengthening T-Lymphocytes, or your immune cells.
Apart from providing you an increased sense of self-awareness, perspective and good feelings overall, journaling has tons of benefits that go far beyond just the brain-body connection. The best part of it is that anyone can do it and there are no rules, all you have to do is take out 15-20 minutes of your day to express yourself!