Journaling can transform not only my physical health, but also emotional and spiritual health.
I didn’t always love my body. In fact, for years, I hardly thought about it at all.
My body was a machine that I worked relentlessly and neglected constantly. It was simply a tool that my brain used to get where it needed to go. I paid no mind to aching muscles, searing headaches and other signs of stress and exhaustion. I ignored my body’s needs until a major health challenge forced me to stop and recognize the obvious: my body isn’t a machine at all. It’s an integral part of me that requires love, care and respect.
I began journaling every day as a way to get back in touch with my body. This practice has transformed not only my physical health but also my emotional and spiritual health. I started listening to what my body was telling me and making decisions to embrace a full, healthy and balanced life.
Researchers have been tracking the positive effects of journaling for decades.
Over the years, studies have found that expressive writing can lead to significant benefits, including short- and long-term health outcomes, better immune system performance, stress and anxiety reduction and relief from chronic illnesses, such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
And a 2017 study from the University of Arizona showed that for people going through a divorce, narrative writing exercises – telling the story of their divorce, not just documenting their feelings about it – improved how their bodies responded to cardiovascular stress.
Journaling helps us strengthen the mind-body connection that we often neglect. Putting pen to paper supports us in large and small ways, making room for our thoughts, feelings and experiences in a tangible way.
How to Start Journaling
- Start Small
- Make it a Daily Habit
- Feel Free
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. You may want to write lengthy entries every day, but start with a smaller, more manageable goal. Commit to writing for five minutes or a few lines, and congratulate yourself when you reach that goal. If you want to keep writing, go for it (and celebrate that victory too).
Build on your gradual start, and make your small journaling goal a part of your daily life. Find a time of day that works best for you – such as when you’re drinking your morning coffee or you’re about to get ready for bed. Don’t debate whether you should journal or not; just make it a daily habit.
If you can’t figure out what to journal about, try free-writing. Simply jot down anything that comes to mind without filtering or editing it. Keep your pen moving until you reach your writing goal.
5 Journaling Prompts
- Take several deep breaths, and do a mental scan of your body from head to toe. What feels good? What feels off? What is your body telling you?
- Imagine you have an entire day to pamper yourself. What do you do? How does each part of the day rejuvenate you?
- Write a love letter to your body. What do you appreciate about it? What are you thankful for? How can you express your gratitude?
- Describe a sensory experience that has stuck with you – a meal, a smell, a hike, a physical activity. What did it feel like throughout your body? Why did it make such an impression on you?
- Write about a time you felt wonderful in your own skin. What was happening? Why did you feel strong, beautiful, capable or empowered? How can you recreate that feeling?
Journaling is a powerful way to care for your body, as well as your mind and spirit. Make daily journaling an essential part of your journey to total aliveness.