Many therapists recommend journaling as a way to express emotions and deal with anxiety. However, researchers have also discovered that regular journaling can help create cues for memory retrieval and stimulate brain function.
Discover the many benefits of journaling, along with tips on improving memory function.
Before discussing ways to improve or recover memories, it helps to know how the brain’s memory system works.
To better understand the three stages of memory, let’s look at the following scenario.
Any interruption in one of the three processes can cause a memory failure.
Your brain can store memories for the short term or the long term. To illustrate, compare a memory to a firefly. If you catch it in your hand and then let it go, that’s short-term. If you capture it in a jar, that’s long-term.
Health conditions that harm our bodies, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, thyroid disease and depression, can also negatively affect our brains. In addition, certain medications can contribute to memory loss.
Therefore, it’s vital that we continue to practice healthy habits as we age to protect our bodies and minds. Lifestyle behaviors that promote a healthy brain include:
Journaling is one way to engage the mind and support the speech and language center of the brain.
At its most basic, journaling is recording your thoughts and observations. The beauty of journaling is that there's no right way to do it. You can write about something as trivial as today’s weather or share your innermost thoughts. It’s all up to you.
Keeping a journal is an easy-to-learn, low-cost habit with several health advantages.
The phrase “use it or lose it” refers to more than physical muscles. If you’re not in the habit of using your brain, journaling is an excellent way to start. During journaling you'll think through your day, choose descriptive words, place them on paper and reread them. This stimulates multiple areas of the brain.
Furthermore, researchers at the Utah State University found a reduction in the risk of dementia among journal keepers.
While long-term storage space for memories is practically limitless, retrieval can sometimes be challenging. One way to get a word or memory off “the tip of your tongue” is through cues or prompts.
For example, maybe you can’t remember Bob Smith’s name, but you can remember his wife’s name, Delores. So, when you say to yourself, Delores and ? Smith, suddenly Bob’s name pops up.
Journaling is a great way for you to leave cues. Don’t just put down the name of a restaurant you visited. Instead, write about the food you had, the decor and the people you were with. All these extra details can make it easier to remember past events.
As a bonus, the more you reread your journals, the more these past details are etched in your long-term memory.
Journaling as a way to express emotions and fears can also benefit your state of mind. If you’re going through a stressful time, whether physical or mental, it helps to write out your emotions. Many therapists recommend journaling to their clients.
Therapeutic journaling can be especially helpful to those with chronic pain and poor sleep habits.
Since there are no rules when it comes to journaling, the how is up to you. Write every day or only when something special occurs. Use a pen and paper, a computer or a recorder. You're journaling for yourself, so do what makes you happy.
Arthritis and vision problems may make it difficult to spend long periods writing. Fortunately, a number of strategies and tools are available to help you still enjoy the benefits of journaling.
If you’re interested in boosting your memorization skills, whether it’s a favorite Bible verse, a poem or a song, follow these tips.
Journaling and memorization are two effective strategies to engage your mind, improve memory recall and help with physical and mental stress. Make them a part of your regular routine.