It's not just angsty teens who keep journals. So do business icons like Oprah Winfrey and Richard Branson. That's likely because they know journaling is about much more than confessing crushes and venting anxieties.
A long list of experts insists keeping a professional journal can help you not just manage your work stress, but also notice patterns, clarify your thinking, reinforce learning, brainstorm solutions, and boost creativity.
Which is a pretty strong case for finding 10 minutes a day to sit down and reflect in writing, but recent research discovered yet another reason to start journaling, one that's particularly relevant in the era of Covid-19. Journaling may even make you physically healthier.
Fighting infection with a pen and paper
News of this surprising upside of journaling comes via an article on the many benefits of introspective writing by Kira Newman for UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center. The long piece lays out the many benefits of journaling, particularly in tough times, but it also outlines timely research that shows keeping a journal may affect your immune system as well as your mood.
In one study Newman cites, for example, researchers split volunteers into two groups. One simply recorded what happened each day. The other was told to write about challenges and traumas in their lives as you would in a diary. Then all the study subjects were given a hepatitis vaccine and two booster shots.
You'd think what you wrote in your journal would have no impact at all on how your body responds to a vaccine, but that's not what the team found.
"According to blood tests, the group who journaled about upsetting experiences had higher antibodies right before the last dose and two months later. While the other group had a perfectly healthy response to the vaccine, the authors write, journaling could make an important difference for people who are immune-compromised or for vaccines that don't stimulate the immune system as well," writes Newman.
And that's apparently not the only research that draws a line between reflective writing and improvements in physical health. "Journaling could also boost our immune system once we've been infected with a virus," adds Newman, referencing a study that showed college kids suffering from mono who wrote about their troubles had a stronger immune response to fight the infection.
Why is that? Newman's article goes into much greater depth about why journaling produces such positive effects, but the key takeaway for entrepreneurs is clear: journaling was always a good way to process challenges, damp down stress, and find solutions. In our current anxious (and infectious times) it's a simple daily practice you should consider adopting even more seriously.
If you're struggling to get started, there are several easy, lightweight ways to keep a journal that can work for even the most time-pressed entrepreneur.