Wellbeing tips

Three key ways that journaling can benefit our lives post-lockdown

Over half of Brits say their wellbeing has been impacted by the pandemic, leading to a surge in interest for literary activities. Rutger Bruining, Founder and CEO of biography writing service StoryTerrace, discusses the importance of mindfulness as we return to normality.

After a year of lockdown and prolonged periods of isolation, many of us will feel as though we have had too much time to ourselves, and more ready than ever to return to a sense of normality. As millions of us have been going back the office during the past few weeks, along with hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants, returning to our pre-Covid lives is what we have been longing for.

However, it can be far too easy to fall back into a regimented lifestyle in which we become consumed by the busy day-to-day nature of our lives. While the lifting of social restrictions is exciting, adjusting to this drastic change can be hard, especially with one survey showing that 57% of British people feel their wellbeing has been affected by the pandemic. Setting some time aside each day for ourselves has never been more important - whether that be an hour of reading, writing down our daily thoughts in a journal, or listening to a 30 minute podcast.

People across the nation turned to creative pursuits in lockdown - but they were more than just temporary hobbies that helped us occupy our time spent at home. Literary activities in particular - whether that be reading or some form of writing - offer a whole host of wellbeing benefits that the nation has come to realise on a vast scale. National biographer StoryTerrace found that while nearly 1 million Brits penned their own books in 2020, nearly 5 million are planning on doing so this year, shedding light on how the activities we decided to pursue during the pandemic have taken a more permanent place in our lives.

Journaling is another activity which has soared in popularity over the past year. The act itself helps to reduce stress, improve mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as encourage us to keep track of our thoughts, feelings and experiences - especially during such an uncertain period in our lives. 

In light of this, Founder and CEO of StoryTerrace, Rutger Bruining, shares three ways in which journaling can boost our mental wellbeing:

1. Tracking our personal journey

During the pandemic, looking back at past memories and life moments has become commonplace as it offered us a form of escapism. A 2013 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that engaging in nostalgia led people to feel more optimistic about the future, which has led increasing numbers of people to self-reflect on their week, day, or year. Keeping a journal is therefore really beneficial as it allows you to look back at how far you have come, and by jotting down your daily thoughts and feelings, this allows you to track your own personal journey. 

 

2. The impact of journaling on our mental health

The act of writing in a journal to record your innermost thoughts yields a whole host of benefits when it comes to our mental health. It can better our mood, increase our sense of wellbeing, and even lead to better working memory. In some cases, journaling is "prescribed" as a way to reduce PTSD symptoms or to help people suffering from depression and anxiety. However, you don't have to be suffering to benefit from journaling - any time spent writing your thoughts helps your brain to get better at regulating your emotions. And a biography is like a journal on steroids!

3. Self-reflection is key to personal growth

If there's one overarching condition of modern life - and one we can all relate to - it's busyness. Many of us have returned to working in an office, which has made moving from email to email or meeting to meeting with little time to pause and think about our lives and their meaning even more intense. Yet Harvard researchers have found that making time for self-reflection is a crucial component of learning. Writing a biography is the ultimate exercise of self-reflection, as you aren't just thinking about a day's work, but your life as a whole.