Photo: Kelly Taylor

Mapping out the mind

in Entertainment/Fashion, Food & Lifestyle/Features by

Journaling goes beyond the stereotypical “Dear Diary,” seen in countless movies and books. While some people carve out a specific time each day dedicated to journaling, simply capturing ideas in a notebook as they come can provided the same benefits.

Chronicling daily thoughts, ideas or events opens them to analyzation and preservation. With so many thoughts circulating through the brain, putting pen to paper and writing can help people recognize emotions they might not have picked up on otherwise which leads to a better understanding of feelings. Understanding the emotions within one’s self as well as relating the feelings back to the events that caused them creates an ability to recognize the emotions of others. This allows people to get to know others better and aquipts them with a better means of problem solving, as they have the ability to comprehend the roots of issues: human emotions.

This problem solving skill serves as a personalized therapy in one’s own mind and body. Dr. James W. Pennebaker, psychologist at the  University of Texas and the theorizor behind writing therapy, believes that laying personal thoughts out to be analyzed provides self therapy for those unable or reluctant to seek professional therapy.

In therapy, a mental release occurs with the outlet of emotions, and, although the pages in a notebook do not respond or give advice, they provide the same relief of thoughts from the mind. Pennebaker’s studies show a correlation between mental and physical health, meaning that journaling helps to prevent frequent illnesses and even decreases the occurrences of asthma attacks. Journaling on a regular base boosts the immune system, specifically the T-lymphocytes, immune cells, and, in some instances, decreases the severity of rheumatoid arthritis.

While the correlation between writing and the common cold may seen strange, Dr. Penebaker believes that the release of stress causes this relation. Once on the paper and out of the mind, traumatizing or stressful events become easier to process and resolutions arise, providing relief of worries.

Journaling also incurs the realization of goals and planning of dreams similar to how an architect plans out a structure on a blueprint. Paper serves to preserve dreams and other ideas that may be easily forgotten for revisiting in the future. Similarly, saving thoughts creates a sentimental keepsake that calls for reflection of past events long after they take place like pictures preserving moments.

As said by Oscar Wilde, “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.”

Anyone wanting to start a journal of their own need to follow two very simple steps: pick up a notebook and start writing whatever comes to mind.

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