Journaling: A Powerful Tool to Help with Memory and Mental Health

A very powerful tool to help with your memory and mental health is journaling.  Writing down thoughts into a journal or diary is a skill that ties together both mental (thinking) and physical (writing) activities. That unique relationship between the hands and brain, sparked by the composition of thoughts and ideas, creates increased focus, stronger memory pods, and better cognitive recall.  

The process of Journaling is almost as old as time itself. It dates back to 10th century Japan.  Successful leaders and others have kept diaries or journals for a number of reasons including personal improvement and even for posterity sake.
In addition to improving your memory, Journaling helps in a number of other ways. According to Maude Purcell of Psych Central, additional Journaling benefits include: 
Reduces stress. Writing about angst, anger, sadness and other painful emotions helps to release the intensity of these feelings. By doing so you will feel calmer and better able to stay in the present. Research has shown that reducing stress improves memory and brain health.
Clarifies your thoughts and feelings. With all the confusion in our head, taking a few minutes to write down your thoughts without editing can get you in touch with your inner self.
Helps you know yourself better. By writing routinely you will get to know what makes you feel happy and confident. You will also become clear about people and situations that work or don’t work for you to help with your emotional well being.
Solves problems more effectively. The process of writing allows you to access both your logical and creative side at the same time which makes it easier to solve problems.
Resolves disagreements with others. Writing about misunderstandings rather than stewing over them will help you to understand another’s point of view. And you just may come up with a sensible resolution to the conflict.
When is the best time to Journal for your memory? According to the University of Technology and Economics … Bedtime!  
The University conducted a study with 109 young adults where they asked them to keep a diary for 5 days. Participants were given one of three sets of instructions: to record in the evening the events of that same day; to record in the morning events of the previous day; or to record in the evening events of the previous day.
Participants were contacted 30 days later and asked to recall what they recorded in their diaries. Those participants who kept their diaries in the evening, whether the same day or the next evening (recalling the day before), had greater and more accurate recall than those people who had written their diary in the morning. Researchers suggest that this is because when we recall events just before bedtime, the memories are consolidated and stabilized during the sleep that follows.
Want to give journaling a try? The Center for Journal Therapy suggests 5 easy steps in order of the acronym WRITE:
W – What do you want to write about? What’s going on? How do you feel? What are you thinking about? What do you want? Name it.
R – Review or reflect on it. Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths. Focus. You can start with “I feel…” or “I want…” or “I think…” or “Today….” or “Right now…” or “In this moment…”
I –  Investigate your thoughts and feelings. Start writing and keep writing. Follow the pen/keyboard. If you get stuck or run out of juice, close your eyes and re-center yourself. Re-read what you’ve already written and continue writing.
T – Time yourself. Write for 5-15 minutes. Write the start time and the projected end time at the top of the page. If you have an alarm/timer on your smart phone, set it.
E – Exit smart by re-reading what you’ve written and reflecting on it in a sentence or two: “As I read this, I notice—” or “I’m aware of—” or “I feel—”. Note any action steps to take.
Remember the old saying, “A journey of a million miles begins with a single step.”  Take baby steps into implementing journaling into your life.  You might start with one day per week at bedtime.  Then increase frequency as you get more comfortable.  Just start the process.  As a result, your mental health, your memory, and your life will benefit. 
For more information on Journaling or programs to improve your memory contact us at (530) 297-6464 or click here to email us.

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