A close-up of a person's hand journalling with other people also journalling in the background.

What is journalling, and what are its benefits?

One interesting story about journalling involves James Pennebaker, Ph.D., a social psychologist and psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin. In the 1980s, Pennebaker conducted experiments asking people to write about their deepest thoughts and feelings surrounding a traumatic or emotional event. He found that people who participated in this type of "expressive writing" experienced various physical and mental health benefits, including improved immune function, lower blood pressure, and fewer visits to the doctor. These findings have inspired numerous other studies on the benefits of journalling and expressive writing.


Several people journalling. 

What is journalling?

Journalling is regularly writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal or diary. The practice of journalling can be done in a structured or unstructured way and can include a wide range of content, such as daily events, personal reflections, creative writing, or problem-solving. Many people find that journalling is a helpful way to process their thoughts and feelings and better understand themselves and their experiences. Journalling can be done by hand or electronically and can be as short or as long as the writer wishes. Some people find it helpful to set aside a specific time each day to write in their journal, while others prefer to write spontaneously when the mood strikes.



What are the benefits of journalling?


Journalling can have several benefits, both for your mental and emotional well-being and other areas of your life. Some potential benefits of journalling include the following:
  1. Improved mental health: Journalling can help you process your thoughts and feelings and can be a helpful tool in managing stress, anxiety, and depression.
  2. Greater self-awareness: Writing about your experiences and reflecting on your thoughts and feelings can help you gain insight into your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  3. Enhanced problem-solving skills: By writing about problems or challenges you are facing, you may be able to gain a new perspective and come up with creative solutions.
  4. Improved communication skills: Journalling can help you clarify your thoughts and feelings, making it easier to communicate with others.
  5. Increased productivity: By organizing your thoughts and setting goals in your journal, you may be able to manage your time better and be more productive.
  6. Enhanced memory: Writing about your experiences can help you remember them more vividly, which can be helpful for personal growth or academic or professional purposes.


Two images of people journalling.


Who would benefit most from journalling?

Journalling can be beneficial for people of all ages and backgrounds. Since journalling can be a helpful tool for managing stress and emotions, setting goals, improving communication skills, and reflecting on personal growth, people who wish to benefit from these goals are prime candidates. Some specific groups of people who may particularly benefit from journalling include:
  1. Students: Journalling can be a helpful way for students to process their thoughts and feelings about their studies and other aspects of their lives, and it can help with organization and time management.
  2. Professionals: Journalling can be a valuable tool for professionals to reflect on their work, set goals, and identify personal and professional growth areas.
  3. People experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression: Writing about one's thoughts and feelings can be a helpful way to process and manage these emotions.
  4. People going through significant life transitions: Journalling can be a useful way to cope with and make sense of substantial changes, such as starting a new job, moving to a new city, or going through a divorce.
  5. People with chronic illness: Journalling can be a helpful way for people with chronic illness to manage the physical and emotional challenges of their condition.
Ultimately, anyone who is interested in self-exploration and personal growth may benefit from journalling.



Who are famous people that kept journals?

Many famous people have kept journals or diaries to document their thoughts, experiences, and observations. These few examples are the most commonly cited:
  1. Anne Frank: Anne Frank is perhaps the most well-known diary writer in history. Her diary, which she wrote while hiding from the Nazis during the Holocaust, has been translated into dozens of languages and is considered a classic of war literature.
  2. Leonardo da Vinci: Leonardo da Vinci was a famous artist, inventor, and scientist who kept extensive notebooks filled with observations, drawings, and ideas. These notebooks, which have been carefully preserved, provide a fascinating glimpse into his creative process and the many interests he pursued throughout his life.
  3. Charles Darwin: Charles Darwin, the famous scientist and naturalist kept a detailed diary during his voyage on the HMS Beagle, which he later used as the basis for his groundbreaking theory of evolution.
  4. Sylvia Plath: Sylvia Plath, the poet and author kept a journal throughout her life. After her death, her husband published a selection of her journal entries in a book called "The Bell Jar," which provides insight into her thoughts and experiences.
  5. George Washington: George Washington, the first president of the United States, kept a diary in which he recorded his daily activities, thoughts, and observations. His journal provides an essential historical record of the country's early days.



How does one start journalling?

Starting a journal can be as simple as getting a blank notebook, pen, or pencil and setting aside some time to write daily. Here are a few tips for getting started with journalling:

  1. Set aside a specific time each day to write in your journal. Some people find it helpful to write first thing in the morning, while others prefer to write before bed. Choose a time that works best for you.
  2. Determine your goals for journalling. Do you want to use your journal to process your thoughts and feelings, set goals, or document your daily activities? Knowing your goals can help you decide what to write about.
  3. Write freely, without worrying about grammar or spelling. The point of a journal is to capture your thoughts and feelings rather than to create a polished piece of writing.
  4. Be honest and open. Your journal is a place to be completely honest with yourself, so don't hold back.
  5. Don't worry about writing every day. It's okay to take breaks or to have days when you don't feel like writing. It is important to write when you feel motivated and to make it a regular part of your routine.
  6. Be consistent. Try to write in your journal at the same time each day. Your consistency can help make journalling a habit.

Remember, finding a journalling practice that works for you is the most important thing. There is no "right" way to journal, so feel free to experiment and find what works best for you. If you compare diaries, you'll find that NUE UX journals, like the uni, are flexible and lightweight journals that give you all the freedom for free-form writing and spontaneous journalling.

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