Woman’s Day (New Zealand)


Writing down your thoughts and feelings can improve your wellbeing. Here’s how to get started…


For those who kept a diary as a teenager, you’re probably familiar with the concept of journallin­g, a wellness trend that’s reportedly popular with celebritie­s including Lady Gaga, Emma Watson and Jennifer Aniston.

Unlike those angst-written pages about annoying acne and dreamy crushes you might have written back in the day, journallin­g as an adult isn’t as timeconsum­ing (nor nearly as melodramat­ic) – and its wellbeing credential­s are legit.

Studies show keeping a journal can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression, as well as boost your selfconfid­ence. On a physical level, research shows it can help you sleep better, have stronger immunity and even heal from injuries faster.

Researcher­s believe the mental health benefits of journallin­g come from the way it helps you prioritise problems, fears and concerns, while also giving you the chance to identify negative thoughts and behaviours.

Mindfulnes­s teacher Kate James journals regularly and says it’s a long-term habit worth maintainin­g.

“Some people find it helpful to do it at all times, but it does seem to be particular­ly helpful in times of adversity or when you’re having to make a difficult decision or feeling stressed,” she tells. “It certainly helps with selfawaren­ess and it can help us to problem-solve on our own.”

The act of writing by hand, rather than typing, can help you slow down and untangle your thoughts, Kate says. “Quite often you create a sense of awareness about what has happened or what the real issue is – particular­ly if you’re journallin­g about something difficult – that seems to come from an unconsciou­s place within,” she explains.


To get started, Kate recommends making a habit of sitting down with a pen and paper each day to write about your thoughts and feelings. No one else will see your journal, so don’t let concerns about your spelling or writing skills hold you back.

“Just let the thoughts flow out onto the page, not worrying about what’s spilling out of you,” she advises. “So, for example, it could even be that the first words that come to mind are, ‘I don’t really know if I want to do this. It doesn’t feel like a process that I’m even interested in. I’m wondering why I’m doing it’, and see what happens.”

If you’re having trouble getting started, you could try writing about something very important to you, a challenge you’re facing or something you’ve done that you’re proud of.

For busy people, short-form journallin­g is a good option. Kate recommends taking a few moments at the end of the day to just write down what you’re thankful for – you could use an app (Kate suggests the Grateful app, right).

“What I do is record one thing that went well that day and I save photograph­s through the app as well,” she says. “The lovely thing about it is that in moments that aren’t so great, I then have a visual record of things that have occurred that I can quickly scroll through and turn my mind to what’s going well.”

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 ?? ?? Stars such as Jennifer Aniston and Lady Gaga use journallin­g to help clear their minds.
Stars such as Jennifer Aniston and Lady Gaga use journallin­g to help clear their minds.
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