Health and Wellness Tips Wellness

Benefits of Writing in a Journal and Why You Should Start One Now

Writing in a journal

Writing in a journal makes you happier and healthier than the average person!


Mostly if it is a gratitude journal.  Being grateful every day may sound cheesy but, it WILL change your day.

Health is not just what is on the end of your fork.

Health is all encompassing.  It’s physical, mental and spiritual.

Writing in a journal helps bring a healthy mental and spiritual aspect to your life.

We may eat healthy and get plenty of physical activity but, if we are not thankful for our lives, if we are holding on to un-forgiveness, or if we are not loving ourselves, we aren’t really healthy.

About 5 years ago my husband, who is in the Navy, was serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan…for a year!

A year is a long time and I wanted to handle it with grace. A friend suggested to start writing in a journal.

Five years later, I still write in a gratitude journal!

It will change your life so much, that you will want to continue the practice.

You may think there are some days where there are no positives, but if you think hard enough you will find them.

I think actively looking for positives made it easier for me to get through the hard times of my husband’s deployment.

We can not always control a situation, but we can control our attitude and how we handle our day.

Developing an attitude of gratitude is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life!

How to start Writing in a Journal

You do not have to wait for a New Years resolution to start.  Start changing your life today! Because yes, writing in a journal can do that for you.

Of course you can write any of your thoughts down in your journal.  But if you start with things you are thankful for, it will begin your thoughts in a positive direction.

Life can be crazy busy but, when we know that being grateful can lower stress levels and increase happiness, it is worth the few minutes we spend writing in a journal.

It has been proven through multiple studies that a gratitude journal will produce a better outlook on life, no matter what stage of life you are in.

Until it becomes a regular practice, put your journal someplace you will see it or set an alarm as a reminder.

Soon it will become a habit, not only writing in a journal, but to be more thankful in your day to day life also.

Everyday is too hard for me to keep up with, but I make sure and visit my journaling at least 3-4 times a week. One day may be a small quick note and another day a full page.

Find the balance that is right for you.



gratitude journal thankful quote


Gratitude improves physical health

Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains.

One recent study from the University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine found that people who were more grateful had better heart health, specifically less inflammation and healthier heart rhythms.

“They showed a better well-being, a less depressed mood, less fatigue and they slept better,” said the study’s author, Paul J. Mills.

Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health.

Studies Proves that Writing in a Journal is Good for you

According to a study by the Harvard Medical School, participants were asked to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week.

A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative).

After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives.

Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

Writing in a journal has been proven to lower stress levels, mostly if writing about things we are grateful for!

Having an “attitude of gratitude” really does affect your life in a positive way!

 gratitude journal

The positive effects of a grateful outlook

In several studies the effects of a grateful outlook on psychological and physical well-being was examined.

According to a study in 2006 in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy, scientists found that Vietnam War veterans with high levels of gratitude were more resilient, and less impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Another breakthrough healing study on gratitude in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people with neuromuscular diseases who kept “gratitude journals” reported a greater sense of well-being and more positive moods at the end of the study.


 writing in a journal for benefits of a gratitude journal

Gratitude takes practice

Because habits are usually formed within two or three weeks, it will become easier to focus on maintaining gratitude, and the habit of a more positive attitude will become more automatic.

“Some people may not be grateful by nature but it is a habit you can get accustomed to,” said Dr. Norman Rosenthal, a psychiatrist and author of “Winter Blues.”

If you think about being grateful, you will become more grateful! Just stick with it, it will become easier.

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Get a journal that fits your personality

First, and what I think is most important, is get a journal that looks nice and fits your personality so you will WANT to spend time writing in a journal.

Plain notebook paper might be fine for you, but I have found if I have a nicely bound and attractive journal, I am more willing to pick it up and enjoy what I am doing.

Journals are inexpensive, so make a small splurge and get something nice you that you will enjoy opening to write your thoughts.


Some of my favorite journals

A nice journal is a gift to yourself. A journal also makes a great Birthday, Christmas or special occasion gift!  There are so many  journal options to fit every personality, age, and are for men and women alike!

These are some of my favorites on Amazon:

“Tree of Life” refillable journal with magnetic clasp and color options

“All things are possible” journal

A classic vintage leather journal for men or women 

Elastic closure and bookmark “Dingbats Wildlife” journal

Refillable soft leather journal/sketchbook in different patterns


 Benefits of a gratitude journal

Journaling with a list

There is no right way for writing in a journal…I will just tell you how it worked for me.

When I first started a gratitude journal I listed everything I was thankful for each day. But then I switched to 2-3 times a week, which was more manageable.

Start simple. Write at least 5 things you are thankful for. Most likely you will automatically start to think of more than 5.

Don’t overthink this!

People, things, music, a comfortable pair of shoes, a fun pair outfit, your pet, someplace you visited, the moon, your child’s smile, a great parking spot, the ability to walk, taste, hear…you get the idea.

This practice allows ourselves to pay attention to the good things in life we’d otherwise take for granted.


Go Deeper in your Journaling practice

I realized after a few years of writing in a journal that I felt like I was just listing things like a grocery list, instead of putting thought into what I was writing.

Now I pick a subject and go deeper into the feeling of gratitude.

I take a moment and give myself time to think “why” I am grateful for this person, this thing or this moment.

I may say, I am thankful for my dog because he loves me unconditionally and gets excited every time he sees a treat, which makes me laugh to see his tail wag so fast.  Then I expand more on why I am thankful for my dog.

Writing in a journal, my happy dog

There are so many things to be thankful for in our lives!

I know there are times when everything feels heavy and overwhelming. I am not downplaying those feelings at all.  Life is real.

Maybe you can only find one thing to be thankful for that day or week.

Focus on that one thing and journal.

Not every day is good but, there is good in every day. 

Scientific studies have shown being grateful will change your outlook on life.

You may even switch back and forth between list journaling and focus journaling to keep it mixed up, so you don’t get bored

Add Essential Oils to boost your mood

Taking time for yourself daily or weekly is important. This will look different for everyone.

It may be 5- 15 minutes in the morning or at night, to write in a journal. It may be a hot shower or bath.  How about taking some time to care of your skin. Or possibly a long workout or short brisk walk.

You may have 5 minutes or 50 minutes.  Whatever your time frame, do something, however small, for yourself and give self love.

Adding essential oils to any routine will enhance the experience!

Before taking time to journal, open a bottle of essential oil and inhale the wonderful fragrance.

To start your morning, Lemon essential oilGrapefruit essential oil  or Peppermint essential oil will heighten the senses and energize your mood.

If you are journaling at night before bed, inhale Lavender essential oil or Cedarwood essential oil  to calm the mind and body.

Summary of the Benefits of Writing in a Journal

  • Pick a journal you like that brings you joy, and fits your personality, since you will use it daily/weekly.
  • To begin a gratitude journal start with the question: What am I thankful for?
  • People who practice a positive attitude and a gratitude journal have been scientifically proven to have better heart health, fewer aches and pains, less fatigue, and better sleep.
  • Use essential oils to enhance your day and your journaling experience.


Disclaimer/Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. Read more about my disclaimer and disclosure here.

Do you keep a gratitude journal?  Let me know how it has changed your outlook.

Writing in a journal will make you happier and healthier than the average person!  Studies have proven writing in a journal lowers stress levels and makes a person healthier and more grateful. Learn how and why you should start one today!

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