Expand Your Possibilities. Benefits of having a diary

Having a diary is not a topic that only concerns teenagers, it has so many benefits that we should all have one. Here we will let you know about it’s background, what scientists say about it and especially the benefits and effects it can have on your brain.

The origin of diaries dates back to the 15th century with a play called DIARY OF A BOURGEOIS FROM PARIS. The diary makes its appearance in history as a use of personal writing of who writes it. 

In general, the idea of writing a diary is related to the action of children and adolescents. However, it is a very powerful tool that can help you in many ways. In this blog you’ll be introduced to all you need to know to start your diary as soon as possible.

The desire to keep a diary can come from different intentions:

  • To portray our feelings and experiences that will remain in our memories forever.
  • The desire to express ourselves and leave in writing and in secret feelings such as love, sadness and even frustration, fear and anger among others.
  • As a space to clarify our thoughts.

Nonetheless, there are many benefits that can come with having one with us, regardless of age.

Different studies have proven that having your own experiences in writing has therapeutic power. The North American investigator and social psychologist, James Pennebaker, found positive effects when writing about different traumatic experiences, from situations of angst and stress through people who have been victims of sexual abuse or who suffered terminal illnesses.

Amongst these positive effects is found cognitive and emotional advantages such as improving self-esteem and developing creativity, thinking with a cold head and making clearer decisions around you.

Counselors, social workers and therapists often recommend their patients to start one. Proven by BJPsych Advances magazine, 15 or 20 minutes in 3 or 5 occasions were enough to help treat traumatic situations of stress or emotional. 

Having a personal diary can help you process and communicate complex ideas efficiently and to memorize important information to generate much clearer brainstorming. 

Also, a diary helps us remember mistakes we’ve made and it helps us make changes in ourselves. It helps us remember the achievements we’ve had, how proud we felt about it and to see opportunities that maybe weren’t so evident at a glance. Keeping a diary also helps with having in mind moments that we need to remember in order to not repeat them.

At times we feel doubtful and even frustrated about not being able to achieve what we want and this is where we need extra help and what better than going back to our diary and remembering everything that makes us happy, that inspires us to keep going, every step we have taken and how we have made it to the point where we are, it would be like following a recipe to success. Documenting your achievements ensures that they don’t lose their importance.

Writing a diary also helps you revisit complex experiences and splitting them up into smaller pieces that are easier to organize in a coherent way, in a way that is easier for you to achieve your goals. The effectiveness of the diary has to do with the ability to identify the most outstanding issues in that period of time and using them to your advantage. Dr. Indra Cidambi (New Jersey Network Therapy Center, currently medical director) suggests spending a few minutes a day completing four columns that should be answered with a single sentence; What bothers you? How do you feel? What measures have you taken? How do you plan to solve it? This will help you keep consistency in your daily writing without much effort while you manage getting used to it.

Here I will tell you about some writers who talk about their experience having a diary almost all their lives and the positive influence they got out of it.

Anais Nin is a diary writer by excellence, she went down in the history of literature for the quality of these. She said, “It was while writing a diary that I discovered how to capture the moments of life. Having a diary during my entire life helped me discover some basic  elements essential for the vitality of writing”.

André Gidé, another famous diarist who has maintained the habit for 60 straight years explains its advantages from a more personal point of view: “A diary is useful during conscious, intentional, and painful spiritual evolutions. That’s when you want to know where you’re standing. An intimate diary is interesting especially when you record the awakening of ideas; or the awakening of senses in puberty; or even when you feel you’re dying”.

Franz Kafka, to whom the diary helped reconcile with himself, “One of the advantages of keeping a diary is that one realizes with reassuring clarity of the changes we suffer constantly and in what general way we admit them naturally, we believe, we remember, but unconsciously we refuse when that recognizing feeling helps us feel more hopeful or at peace”.

As a psychologist and after about 20 years of experience I’ve found that working around these questions will help you embrace your present and get clarity, projecting yourself in a powerful way for your future. What is it that would make me completely happy in an ideal world ? What are the miracles of my day? What worked off of everything that I programmed in the morning? What is your biggest wish?

Reasons why you should write a diary

  • Writing by hand has a positive effect on the brain as it requires the use of fine motor skills, attention and concentration. In fact, some investigations have shown that writing has similar effects on the brain as learning to play a musical instrument.
  • It helps you confirm and remember your goals, dreams and achievements.
  • It helps you clear your thoughts, feelings and sensations. 
  • It helps you let go of anger and frustration.
  • It helps you focus on what you want.
  • It will allow you to go back, reading and celebrating your progress.

Regardless of how you decide to start your diary, there are clear benefits to doing so. You don’t have to be Isaac Newton, Andy Warhol, Leonardo Da Vinci or any other important figure to make your thoughts and experiences worthwhile!

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