Most of us have tried keeping a diary at some point in our lives, and for the vast majority this will have been during the awkward teen years when life was that much more difficult and more dramatic. Most likely the pages were filled with lamentations about how that guy/girl didn’t notice us, or how ugly we are, interspersed with the occasional bit of dark, morbid poetry. (This I am told is the norm – mine was filled with sketches for body armour and ideas for new programs… )
But while looking back on old diaries like that can be quite amusing, writing them at the time probably did actually help us to cope with our emotions and this is something we could probably still benefit from now. If you were to see a therapist or psychologist about any minor complaint today, one of the first things many of them would be likely to say is that you should start keeping a diary thanks to the huge therapeutic benefit these can have for us. Here we will look at some of the top arguments for keeping a diary, and at why it’s so commonly recommended.
It Helps You to Reflect
Many of us will just plod through our day without really thinking about what’s happening and what we’re happy with/not so happy with. As such this then means that we aren’t as self-aware as we could be and are more likely to continue making the same mistakes or to carry on without noticing the things that are making us unhappy or causing us stress. By keeping a diary you’re better able to reflect on your day and on your decisions and so better able to start improving your life.
It’s Great Catharsis
If you’ve had a hard day or are under a lot of stress, then being able to talk about this and get it off your chest is very important and often a very helpful way to improve your psychological health. While not all of us have someone we can vent to unfortunately, the good news is that anyone can use a diary as a way to work through their issues and to let off some hot air and this can be very healthy. In fact if you are someone who finds it difficult to get to sleep and you often lie in bed with your mind racing over the day’s events, then writing them down before you head off to sleep is a great way to get them off your brain so that you can get some peace and quiet – it may even cure your insomnia!
It Helps Us to Make Associations
If you have been suffering with a bad stomach ache for the last week but don’t know what it is, then looking back over your diary might be able to help you find the connection – perhaps you ate out at a dodgy restaurant at the start of the week? Or maybe you’ve been trying a new diet, either way your diary can be a great way to track changes to your lifestyle and see what the results are which can come in very handy when you make a change you don’t like.
It’s Good for the Brain
When you write in your diary you’ll be exercising all kinds of different parts of your brain from your creative writing and communication skills, to your ability to recall the day’s events. It’s a great way then to improve your recall and is just as effective as any of those fad brain training websites.
It’s Great for Developing Ideas and Coming Up With Solutions
Have you ever found how just talking to someone can be a great way to develop an idea? You start talking to them and without them even interjecting you start to develop the idea more until it hits that eureka stage? Well this is something that you can also achieve with a diary by ‘bouncing’ the ideas or the problems off of that imaginary entity and getting a better grasp of them yourself as you do. Of course a journal can also be a great place to sketch down ideas and concepts and this way you won’t forget or lose them.
It Can Be Nice for Others
If ever you want someone to know more about you, or you want to demonstrate trust then having a journal is a great way to do this. At the same time though a journal can also be something comforting for your friends and family in the event that something should happen to you – just make sure what you write is nice. It’s what we say and do when we think no one is listening that defines us…
It’s Great for Reminiscing
I love going back over my old diaries and seeing what a day in my life was like five, ten or fifteen years ago and it can be a great way to trigger some nostalgia as you remember places, people and events that you had long forgotten. More than any fiction, your brain will make this writing really become real as your memory fills in the blanks and as you suddenly open up whole parts of your brain you thought had been shut off for good.
At the same time, being able to go over your diary and look at past events is also a fantastic way to take stock of all the changes in your life both good and bad, and being able to see how things have changed over time can give you a sense of progression and perspective.