Through his lifelong research, Dr. James Pennebaker found that reducing the impact of stressors allows the immune system to better fight disease. With that in mind, journaling has been found to combat everything from low self-esteem to depression. When confronted with conflict, taking time to focus your thoughts enough to involve pen and paper allows for distance from the infraction. Release those pent-up frustrations, let go of negative thoughts and calm yourself by confronting what ails you. Expressing yourself through pen and paper has been found to clear the mind and make ready those spaces for other tasks.
Have you ever fixated on something so much your mind can't stop racing? Join the club. Instead of festering about it, try writing it down. If you are holding onto bitter words meant for a cohort, put it on the page. Don’t hold back. Lay down such a screed as would make your target wilt! Say exactly what your wounded soul must express. Then take a breath and see if things are as bad as you thought they were. Odds are you will feel pounds lighter once you have exercised those muscles, and nobody is worse for wear. As Anne Frank noted, “Paper is more patient than people.”
The ‘how’ of why journaling works is not perfectly understood but we know it is a combination of at least four mechanisms: Emotional confrontation, cognitive processing, repeated sessions and to a lesser extent; catharsis. Simply confronting a fear reduces its power over you. When you make authentic efforts to examine the topic, perspective and understanding are gleaned. Repeating these sessions can lead to diminished control of the fear as we become more able to deal with it.