Can Journaling Help Your Health?

Recently, on my long drive home from California, I listened to Christina Baldwin’s Lifelines, a CD recording about journaling. Christina is a pioneer in journal writing, her workshop Self as Source, profoundly impacted the writing of my book Life’s Little Book for Big Decisions and I recommend journaling as an essential component of the DecisionClarity process. However on my long drive past the glorious beaches of the Oregon coast, she introduced a concept that took me by surprise; it was the idea that journaling can actually improve your health.

University of Texas at Austin psychologist and professor James Pennebaker believes that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. He encourages writing about stressful events to help you come to terms with them, thus reducing the impact of stress on your physical and mental health.

In Decision-making, writing about the factors creating confusion and exploring your emotions, brings fear and anxiety up to the surface and I have long propounded that moving our fear from the dark into the light reduces its power over us. Sometimes we can feel our body relax as we own our anxiety rather than suppress it; darkness is often a breeding ground for fear; it expands like bamboo proliferates underground to emerge when you least expect it. It is no surprise that these emotions can create damaging stress but how encouraging to realize that the simple act of writing can help to overcome the negative effects.

“Emotional upheavals touch every part of our lives,” Pennebaker explains. “You don’t just lose a job, you don’t just get divorced. These things affect all aspects of who we are—our financial situation, our relationships with others, our views of ourselves, our issues of life and death. Writing helps us focus and organize the experience.” For more see http://www.utexas.edu/features/2005/writing/

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