How and Why to Start Keeping a Diary

Some of the most influential people in history have kept detailed diaries of their lives, including Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, and Frida Kahlo. These journals served two purposes: a permanent record for posterity and, presumably, a relief for the people who write them.

Even if you think you don’t need it either, journaling gives you quite a lot of benefits starting today. Maybe you want to leave something for your kids to tell your story and what you’ve accomplished. Maybe you are more practical and want to unleash your creativity. Maybe you just need the cathartic relief that comes with regular writing. However, these are good reasons. This is why you can sit down regularly to write down your thoughts.

Regular writing is good for mental health

Writing can do wonders for your mental health. Aside from keeping your creative juices flowing is a topic of its own that we’ll return to shortly, regular writing can give you a safe cathartic escape valve from the stresses of everyday life. We’ve already discussed some of these mental and emotional benefits of writing in terms of creative writing, but you don’t need to write fiction to get them.

For example, we mentioned that keeping a coolness journal can do wonders for your self-esteem . Regular writing not only makes you feel good, but it also helps you relive the events you have experienced in a safe environment where you can handle them without fear or stress.

According to PsychCentral , journaling can help you:

  • Clarify Your Thoughts and Feelings
  • Get to know yourself better
  • Reduce stress
  • Resolve disagreements with others
  • Solve problems more effectively

In fact, there is so much data on the mental and emotional benefits of journaling that counselors, social workers, and therapists often encourage their patients to do so. This study from the journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment is an excellent experiment and a solid summary of current research on the topic. The researchers noted that 15–20 minutes on three to five occasions was sufficient to help study participants cope with traumatic, stressful, or other emotional events.

Journaling is especially effective for people with serious medical conditions, such as cancer . In fact, this practice is so respected that there is a center of therapy journal, dedicated to the benefits of doing regular mental health diary , both therapeutic and personal use.

But it’s not just about what you write about. The way you write plays a role too. This University of Iowa study found that keeping a diary of stressful events helped participants cope with the events they experienced. The key, however, is to focus on what you think and feel, not just your emotions. In short, you get the most out of journaling when you tell your personal story, rather than just writing about your feelings on your own. This is a great example of how telling your own personal story can make a huge difference to your well-being.

Journaling helps you unleash your creativity

The creative benefits of journaling are also well documented. You’ve probably heard that the best way to write better is to just keep doing it. This is true, but the benefits go deeper than just creating better value propositions. For example, regular writing can help you learn how to effectively process and communicate complex ideas . It can also help you remember important information and find new ideas. In other words, describing your experience not only helps you process it, but it also helps you see opportunities that might not have been obvious at first glance. It will also help you learn how to break complex experiences into relevant, useful pieces of information, organized sequentially.

Even if you don’t think something special has happened to you, journaling itself can help you brainstorm . How often have you caught yourself writing about something that seems boring at first glance, but led you to a web of other thoughts, ideas, and memories as you processed it? Regular writing opens the door to these opportunities every time you sit down.

Even if you’re not creative, writing regularly has practical benefits.

Regular writing can also be functional and serve as a reminder of mistakes you have made, achievements you are proud of, and wonderful moments you want to remember. For example, keeping a work diary can serve as a record of mistakes and successes . This written report can come in handy later when you’re feeling overwhelmed, but it can also help you fix your personal ship when you’re feeling lost. Grab your work diary and look back at what you did really well – perhaps you can pick a blueprint for things you want to follow in regards to your career.

Likewise, these accomplishments and amazing moments don’t just boost your self-esteem, they give you a compelling excuse for a promotion or promotion when it comes time to talk to your boss about the promotion . You don’t need to be a creative person to appreciate what you’ve done well and what needs to be worked on. Seeing your own mistakes before they are pointed out to you is great, and documenting your accomplishments ensures they are never overlooked.

Regular writing may not only apply to work. Journaling is a great way to develop better habits as it makes you aware of your actions and behavior. If you want to keep track of what you eat, keeping a food diary is a great way to pay more attention – proven to help people eat healthier foods. Likewise, by simply writing down positive things that happened to you or by tracking your mood, you can identify good recurring patterns in your life that you should take time out for, not to mention things that make you feel bad or are thrown away. you should be excluded from the game.

Which environment to choose and why

Once you have decided to keep a journal, your next decision is the remedy for it. You have a variety of options, and what works for one person will not work for another. You should choose the one that works best for you. Here are some options:

Notepads made of paper

If you like to physically jot down your thoughts, a paper notebook is best. Keeping a paper journal gives you complete physical control over what you write and maximizes your privacy because the chances of your journal being “hacked” or “lost” when the service goes down or is compromised are low. However, a paper journal means that you have no backups in case something happens to your work – theft, fire, or just the loss of a backpack – which means your journal will be gone forever.

If you don’t just need a blank notebook, then the Bullet Journal Productivity Method is great if you already use a paper notebook for to-do and notes, and the previously mentioned Sorta has unique notebooks with removable pages. If you’re worried that you’re too busy to keep a diary, consider The Five Minute Diary , a paper notebook in which you provide a motivational quote and then prompts you to write requests every day to complete, such as, “Today I am grateful for,“ What could make today great? ” and “3 Great Events That Happened Today.”

Journals and Diaries

If you just can’t get away from your phone or laptop, there are tons of apps that promise privacy and security, as well as a great writing environment. We’ve covered a few of them before , but Penzu , a completely online private logging app with mobile apps, and Day One , a beautiful iOS / OS X app that is location aware and allows you to add photos, stand out. and more. If you prefer free and open source software, try RedNotebook . It is a fantastic cross-platform wiki-style logging tool .

Of course, you don’t have to use apps at all. You can simply save the encrypted text file to Dropbox, use Evernote, Google Keep, or whatever note-taking app you like. You can even roll your own journaling system with whatever tools you prefer , but keep in mind that the more you automate the process, the less you actually journal, so you won’t get quite the same benefits.


Blogging is another great way to reap the benefits of journaling , whether you’re starting to make a name for yourself or just expressing your thoughts and feelings openly. Blogging opens doors to the widest possible audience, but it also sacrifices privacy. If this is your preferred route, you have a wide variety of tools and hosts to choose from, both free and paid.

There are tons of free options like WordPress , Tumblr, and Medium . They all have a different look, suit different audiences, and are designed for different categories of people. Whichever you choose, blogging for yourself may not involve writing tips or fancy mobile apps (although some do), but they can involve a community and the ability to share your story with the world.

Regardless of how you choose to keep a journal, there are clear advantages to it. You don’t need to be a thought leader, famous artist, politician, scientist, or famous figure for your thoughts and experiences to be valuable – anyone can reap the benefits.

This story was originally published on 3/19/14 and updated on 9/20/19 to provide more complete and up-to-date information.


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