Writing a diary can seem like a rather cliché or teenage habit. But it’s actually been proven to be proactive in improving the overall mental health and well-being of those that practice it on a regular basis. In addition to being a creative outlet, writing is also a great outlet for expressing one’s feelings, secrets, thoughts, and other emotions.
Is writing a diary a good, healthy habit? Writing a diary is a good, healthy habit for clearing the mind of any distracting thoughts that might be the cause of stress or anxiety in your life. It’s also great for identifying what you’re feeling and what aspects of your life are contributing to those feelings.
Writing in a diary is not just an outlet for expressing your feelings and emotions. It’s also great for setting goals, planning out your life, and improving how you communicate with others. Writing in a diary on a regular basis can be difficult in times of stress and hardship. So it also makes for a good habit of self-discipline.
Why Writing A Diary Is A Good, Healthy Habit
The art of writing a diary can be very relieving in many ways and the experiences we have in life can often be the reason for wanting that relief. It’s no secret that life can often become very overwhelming one moment and extremely joyful the next.
For this reason, writing a diary can be a habit to record the ups and downs of life in a consistent, healthy manner.
Think of a diary as more or less a recording of your life experiences, emotions, feelings, etc. Detailing these aspects on a daily basis may seem mediocre in the moment. But future wise, it can be therapeutic to look back at those days, weeks, and months in which you spent pouring out your heart’s desires, mottos in life, and so much more!
“Adam Phillips, psychotherapist and writer, suggests that a diary is a way of being a witness to one’s own life, something that is harder than you might suppose. It is a way of ‘trying to see what you are doing, to hear what you are saying’. A diary makes links.”
Source: Kate Kellaway of The Guardian
Diaries are also great for keeping track of memories, relaxing, and finding solutions. We all dread the day when we will no longer remember our first day of high school, who our first crush was, or how we met our best friend. Writing a diary is a healthy habit because doing so encourages and fosters our ability to remember significant moments from our past.
Writing a diary to practice mindfulness
Mindfulness meditation and diary writing also go hand-in-hand in many ways. Mindfulness meditation is the practice of being fully present in the current moment while in a meditative-like state. Along with meditation, mindfulness can be practiced in the form of writing a diary as well.
If you’re writing a diary, you are in a present moment and fully aware of what you’re doing and where you are both physically and mentally. This is the aspect of writing a diary that research showed help reduce stress and anxiety in those that do it on a regular basis.
As you begin writing more, you’ll notice how easy it is to become more aware of your feelings and emotions.
If you’d like to give it a try, I can highly recommend The Five Minute Journal* from Intelligent Change. It’s a condensed way of writing a diary, guiding you with science-based questions to answer. And it only takes about 5 minutes per day.
Ways To Write A Diary
A diary nowadays can take more than one shape or form. There’s digital diaries, travel diaries, and even video diaries, all can be used for the same purpose. Diaries can be used for more reasons other than clearing your mind and fully expressing yourself. Diaries come in all varieties and you can use them for multiple purposes.
If you want to step up your diary writing routine, even more, you can opt to use several of these diaries to record different aspects of your life:
- Gratitude diary— to write what you’re thankful for.
- Work diary— to record tasks completed at work.
- Dream diary— to record your dreams and what they might mean.
- Fitness diary— to track your workout routines and other physical activities.
- Health diary—to track aspects of your health such as weight, blood pressure, sleep pattern and more.
- Diary for religious or spiritual purposes— for detailing your religious/spiritual practices and other aspects of faith.
- Creative writing diary— for writing creative genres such as poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. This is for unleashing your creative side!
- Food diary—useful for tracking eating habits, calorie intake, and other nutritional values.
When and how frequently you write is simply up to you.
However, it’s recommended to write on a regular basis, at least one to three times a week to get the most out of your diary experience. The medium you want to use to write your diary is up to you as well.
If you’re more of a traditionalist, you can write a diary the old-fashioned way, with a paper or notebook and a writing utensil.
Before you start writing your diary, decide what purpose you would like for it to serve. What goal do you have in mind for writing this diary? Are you going through a rough patch in life and want to write about it? Are there any aspirations that you want to go for and record your journey accomplishing them?
These are all important questions to ask yourself, along with how often you’d like to write. The next steps are pretty simple, choose who you want to address your diary to and get writing! You don’t have to use the traditional header, “Dear Diary”. You can address the diary to yourself using the third person or to someone important you’d like to read it someday.
Diary Writing In History
Diary writing has been a common practice for many for hundreds and thousands of years. And it continues to be a popular form of writing even today. There have been numerous historical records of diaries written by people experiencing significant events in history and life such as war, terrorism, liberation, etc.
“Diaries are a record of entries that describe your life over a period of time typically on a daily basis. A journal is a place where you can be honest with yourself and jot down your thoughts and reflections from things that happened around you; free from outside judgment and criticism.”
Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ Diary
Even Marcus Aurelius, a famous Roman emperor from about 2,000 years ago, wrote a diary: Meditations*.
Surprisingly, many influential personalities still consider Marcus Aurelius’ diary as a must-read and find that his insights are still applicable to our lives today.
Anne Frank’s Diary
“The Diary of Anne Frank”, is a very notable example of a famous diary.
It was written by Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl recounting the daily events she and her family experienced while in hiding for two years during the Nazi regime in the Netherlands. After the family was found and arrested, they were sent to several concentration camps where Anne, her sister Margot, and her mother Edith later died.
Her father, Otto, was the only immediate family member to survive. He later returned to the Netherlands after liberation and gathered the diary entries that Anne wrote over the two years in hiding.
Several of the entries were compiled into a book and published in 1947. And it became one of the most famous biographical works written by a victim of the Holocaust.
Anne’s dedication to writing a diary not only helped her to deal with her emotions and the struggles she faced as a young teenager during the Holocaust. But it also provided an insight for the public into the lives of those that experienced the atrocities of that period in time.
Now, it’s your turn to self-reflect…
So, just imagine, while you keep a diary to help yourself grow, it may be considered a historical document for future generations to study the past.