The benefits of journaling, especially journaling for mental health and wellness, to achieve goals, and as part of your self-care often get obscured as we struggle to get started (and then be consistent) with our journaling.

  • Which notebook should I use?
  • How long do I have to write?
  • What should I write about?
  • And finally, is this really worth my time?

Before I answer the questions about the how, how often, and about what, we have to answer the question about why. It's the why that matters most (spoiler alert: the rest comes down to "just write" and I've got a great free guide for that below).

Journaling for Mental Health & Wellness

If we aren't going to devote 5-10 minutes to writing in our journal each day, we sure aren't going to read a long blog post or listen to a podcast episode on it. But honestly, we need to learn about the benefits of journaling because expressive writing is a powerful personal growth tool. There are benefits to journaling for our mental health especially as it relates to documenting and processing our emotions.

Journaling helps us know who we are, and what we want. It helps us get stuff done. It helps calm us down or make tough decisions. So, we owe it to ourselves to devote some time to understanding the benefits of journaling.

GIF: animated line drawing of a face and arms (giving yourself a hug) with the words "be kind to yourself."

But let's get right down to it – straight, no chaser. Here are the benefits in plain English, without the fluff, the jargon and the emotionally loaded, but strangely vague terminology.

Here's how this works, I list a benefit (as you've typically seen it explained – with terms used in the psychology literature), then I'll explain it in layman's terms (that's the straight, no chaser version).

What happens next? You absorb and use the information, understand the benefits and decide that you can't live without journaling in your life. Then you get started using my beginner's guide below. As you become an active journaler, you realize these benefits, and you, your journal, and your emotions, mindset, and personal growth ride out into the sunset living happily ever after. Just kidding: sorry, no promises. Just write!

How Journaling Helps

Culled from a variety of sources, here are 13 of the top benefits of journaling. First, I list the benefits as they are described in the research on personal growth and expressive writing, and then I explain what it means and why you should care in plain English.

You Become More Self-aware (Self-Discovery)

You know what you want, when you want it, and why. You understand your feelings, thoughts, and most importantly, your thinking patterns. 

Helps You Regulate and Release Your Emotions

You get pent-up feelings out, keeping you from crying mindlessly in some random bathroom stall because of the overwhelm. You release the emotion at an appropriate time and in a self-sustaining way.
GIF: Animation of feelings emojis circling a man's head