Health Journaling

6 Benefits of Using a Flexible Digital Journal to Improve Your Mental and Physical Health

Whether you're trying to lower your stress levels, manage symptoms of a mental or physical health condition, or achieve a goal, there's a lot to remember and keep track of. But by using a flexible digital journal, you're taking the first step in making a long-term investment towards improving your health and quality of life

What influences mental and physical health?

The mind and the body are connected in many ways, making sense that the way we treat our bodies can affect our mental health and vice versa. And while everyone's different, research has shown that the following common factors influence your health the most:
• Genetics
• Social Environment
• Substance use
• Stress
• Lifestyle factors: Exercise, substance use (tobacco, alcohol, etc.), diet

Having a customizable journal that aligns with you and your unique needs can help you connect the dots between mood, behavior, and thoughts

Importance of tracking your triggers

Have you ever noticed you can't think straight when you're stressed? Or make impulsive decisions when you're angry? It's no surprise that the way we think or our decision-making skills rely on our moods.

One of the best ways to keep track of these triggers of stress and negative emotions is through journaling. For the days where you feel like everything is catching up to you or your world comes crashing down, having a journal can help you reflect, relax, and work through solutions.

And when it comes to identifying what they are, it can often involve a little detective work. Solving the puzzle requires a capacity of self-awareness and understanding and then tracking backward to locate specific events, experiences, and sensations.

Keeping a digital journal can help you connect the dots between mood, thoughts, and behaviors. However, regardless of whether you know the root cause or not, you can still promote healthy and positive change to your mental wellbeing

Mental health benefits of journaling

1. Self-awareness. Keeping a journal can help you understand yourself on a much deeper level. It provides you with an opportunity to process the things you may overlook on a day-to-day basis, like uncomfortable emotions or tension. If you aren't sure where to begin, you may benefit from starting with monitoring one aspect of your life, such as your feelings, energy levels, or how you spend your time.

2. Reflection. When we write in a journal, we can reflect on our feelings and behavior. In doing so, you strengthen your sense of self, solidify your identity, and discover your authentic self. It's an opportunity to pause and reflect on who we are, how we got where we are, and what our next steps should be.

3. Gratitude. No matter how small, noticing the things you're grateful for can be life-changing. Not only does it make you more optimistic, but it boosts your self-esteem. It can also kickstart your journal entry on the days you're feeling stuck or don't know what to write about. Applying gratitude specifically through journaling has been shown to make you more open-minded, friendlier, happier, and less stressed.

4. Setting goals & objectives. A journal can be an excellent tool for achieving your goals, as it can help you:
• Gain clarity on what you want to accomplish
• Organize your thoughts and ideas in one place.
• Enhance your decision making abilities and clarifies priorities
• Discover your thoughts and feelings about that goal.
• Helps you remember what the next steps are in achieving your goals.
• Keeps you motivated by tracking your progress.

6. Accountability: Tracking your mood, thoughts, and behaviors keeps you accountable. Consider this example: When you're trying to lose weight, you'll know exactly what's contributing to your progress up to this point if you write down everything you eat. On the other hand, keeping track of your weight loss over time and seeing the numbers go down will make you want to stick with it.

Stress management: Not only is journaling a great way to cope and manage stress, but it's also a valuable tool for:
• Decreasing symptoms of various health conditions
• Improving your cognitive functioning
• Strengthening your immune system
• Examining your thoughts and shifting your perspective
• Reducing rumination, worrisome thoughts, while promoting action
• Planning your options and considering multiple outcomes of a situation

Journaling example

Journaling can help you control urges and cravings. Consider the following example of a journal prompt for someone who wants to quit smoking:
• Describe your urge. What triggered it? "I was stressed at work."
• What’s your overall mood like? “Anxious, stressed”
• What will be the negative consequences of giving in to this urge? "I’ll feel guilty about smoking and I’ll be risking my health.”
• What are the positive consequences of controlling your urge? "I'm one step closer to reaching my goal."
• What can you do instead? "I can call my friend and talk to her."
• Rate your urges from 1 to 10. 1= My urges are gone, 10= Urges are more vital than ever.

In this case, a journal entry would be made every time craving or urge arises.

Takeaway

Journaling is an effective technique for managing stress, dealing with symptoms of mental health issues, and improving quality of life. And the good news is, you don't need to be a literary genius or an accomplished writer to benefit!

Start Journaling Today

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