Why Keep a Journal: The Benefits of Journaling

Why Keep a Journal?

By writing our thoughts and feelings, and telling our stories and life events, we make sense of, and see the big picture of our lives.  Journaling helps us celebrate our lives, move forward on goals, express our full-range of emotions, and savor the richness of our life.

The findings are clear, impressive, and astounding. Research has shown that people who write about important personal experiences have seen:

  • Reductions in doctor visits
  • Improved immune system functioning
  • Better grades in school
  • Faster hiring to a new job
  • Lowered stress hormones
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Improved problem-solving
  • Reduced symptoms from some chronic illnesses

Dr. James Pennebaker, a social psychologist at the University of Texas, spearheaded the research which investigated how expressive writing affects the writer. The results were astonishing. There is now objective, rational proof that writing expressively about meaningful life events, along with your emotions is of great personal benefit to both your physical and mental health.

Dr. Pennebaker explains, “Emotional upheavals touch every part of our lives. You don’t just lose a job, you don’t just get divorced. These things affect all aspects of who we are—our financial situation, our relationships with others, our views of ourselves, our issues of life and death. Writing helps us focus and organize the experience.”

We asked top authors and long-time journal writers this question. “How has journal writing benefited you in your life?” You may be surprised what they have to say about why they keep a journal. 

Click the “play” arrows below to hear, in their own voices, how journal writing has changed their lives:

Dr. Gabriele Lusser Rico
Author, English and creativity professor


Sheila Bender
Author, poet, essayist, and writing coach
Shella Bender

Dr. Beth Jacobs
Psychologist and author
Dr. Beth Jacobs

Marlene Schiwy
Author, university instructor, workshop leader, Jungian therapist
Marlene Schiwy

Rachel Ballon
Psychotherapist, author, creativity coach
Rachel Ballon

Sue Meyn
Counselor and therapeutic writing facilitator
Sue Meyn

David Calderisi
Long time journal writer
David Calderisi

colleenColleen C. Harrison
Life time journal writer, author, editor, participant in 12 step program for overeating
Colleen C. Harrison

Why keep a journal?

  • Focus on issues
  • Help people understand their experiences and themselves
  • Integrates thought and feelings
  • Gives their experience structure and meaning
  • Constructing stories or narratives helps people feels a sense of resolution
  • Explains and organizes distressful life events