What’s one of the first things you do every morning? If you’re like most people, 80% in fact, you probably reach for your cell phone. But, here’s a suggestion – reach for a pen and notebook instead. Before you engage electronically with the rest of the world, spend 30 minutes engaging with yourself. It’s called “journaling” and it might change your life.

Journaling is simply the act of writing down – well, whatever you want. You can use your daily journal to express feelings, explore new ideas, brainstorm problems, layout resolutions for the day, set positive affirmations, or just try your hand at bad poetry. A journal is your private communication with yourself. There are no rules, no script to follow, no right or wrong way to do it. And the benefits are enormous.

Journaling is good for your physical health. Journaling on a consistent basis actually boosts your immune system by strengthening your T-cells. Additionally, research has shown that regular journaling can greatly reduce symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

Journaling is good for problem-solving and memory retention. The very act of writing something down tells your brain “hey, this is important stuff here – pay attention!” When you write something down, your brain not only activates the part responsible for memory, it also intensifies the amount of focus given to that information.

Journaling is also a great tool for un-stressing from the prior day’s mishaps. We can’t change past events, but journaling allows us to change how they affect us in the present. Writing about a negative experience and identifying how we feel about it helps to both process those feelings and to re-establish a mental balance. That’s the wonderful cathartic effect to journaling.

Experiment with putting a pen and notepad on your bedside table ON TOP OF your phone – make that the first thing you grab in the morning. A daily dose of “dear diary” will have positive effects on your cognitive functions, your physical health, and your mood. All before you even roll out of bed.

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Yolonda Mays
Yolonda Mays is a Navy veteran, University of Tennessee alumnus, former lifestyle coach and self-proclaimed foodie. She currently works in food service management and spends most of her days obsessing over the price of avocados. You can check out Yolonda's blog at kitchenyolonda.com where she writes about everything from budgeting to the relationship between nutrition and emotional health.