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Description: Did you every keep a diary? How about now? Do you write regularly in a diary or, perhaps so as not to suggest a dramatic teenager, do you journal regularly? Just think for a minute, not about the stereotypes associated with keeping a diary but, from a psychological (adjustment, reflection, self-care, and/or a developmental) perspective, what advantages might arise from reflectively putting pen to paper or cursor to word processing program on a regular (daily!) basis. If you were going to research the impacts and benefits of journaling what might you look at and how might you measure it and who would you recruit to participate in the research? Once you have a few hypotheses and research approaches in mind (and dismissing this as stooooped and childish IS channeling a dramatic teenager — so get over that) have a read through the article linked below and see what sorts of angles people and researchers have taken in understanding the value and impacts of journaling.

Source: What’s All This About Journaling? Hayley Phelan, Self-Care, The New York Times.

Date: October 25, 2018

Photo Credit: The New York Times

Article Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/25/style/journaling-benefits.html

So? I bet you did NOT predict that journaling would reduce the time it takes for physical (not just psychological) wounds to heal! When I am lecturing about identity development and life planning I find myself coming over and over again to one or another version of telling students they should find some ways to regularly reflect upon what they are thinking about, worrying about, trying to figure out, and where they are going with all that. A HUGE part of what it means to positively enter into adulthood (whatever that means) these days requires the application of reflective powers and perspectives that only become available to us in the stage of emerging adulthood (18 to 25 to 29 year of age). Journaling really does facilitate that sort of self-design developmental work. Likewise, mindfulness (you cannot have missed the recent huge spike in postings on this topic) involves both working at being more “in the moment” and being more reflective and personally philosophical (all aided by journaling). So, I don’t not think we necessarily need to leap into seeing journaling as a means of spiritual self-illumination, rather, I see it as a way to take more conscious control of the natural developmental emergence of an ability to reflect upon our place and purpose and navigational direction in the world (and in a world that IS more complex and diverse than it was for previous generations). So take up a pen, a keyboard or your agile thumbs and get going on a regular journaling habit, wo knows where it will take you!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is journaling and how does it differ from writing in a diary (if it does)?
  2. How does journaling relate to mindfulness?
  3. Describe 3 to 5 areas of research into things like self-awareness, career planning, and life adaptation and satisfaction that journaling could play a vital role in?

References (Read Further):

Murray, Bridget (2002) Writing to heal, Monitor on Psychology, https://www.apa.org/monitor/jun02/writing.aspx

Pennebaker, J.W. (1997). Writing about emotional experiences as a therapeutic process. Psychological Science, 8(3) 162- 166. http://www.gruberpeplab.com/teaching/psych3131_summer2015/documents/14.2_Pennebaker1997_Writingemotionalexperiences.pdf

Petrie, K.J., Booth, R.J., & Pennebaker, J.W. (1998). The immunological effects of thought suppression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(5) 1261- 1272. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/eaff/8c6e9cc43dfd31369a4b83c5836115a63711.pdf

Rodriguez, Tori (2013) Writing Can Help Injuries Heal Faster, Scientific American, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/writing-can-help-injuries-heal-faster/

Falahati, R. (2010). The relationship between students’ iq and their ability to use transitional words and expressions in writing. Working Papers of the Linguistics Circle, 17, 11-19. http://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/WPLC/article/download/5160/2132

Pennebaker, J. W. (1997). Opening up: The healing power of expressing emotions. Guilford Press.

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