Journaling is a common and beneficial practice that is often recommended for emotional, mental, spiritual, and psychological health. It is easy to do and offers an excellent opportunity to work through the emotional and stressful challenges of life. A journal does not judge you or offer advice; it is simply a sounding board for you to work through thoughts and feelings, or to just document your life.
You can journal any time of the day that suits you—and during which you have the time—but there are some significant benefits to journaling at night, most specifically before bedtime. Those few moments before you go to bed tend to be some of your calmest when both your mind and body are relaxed. You have started to recover from the chaos of the day, but your body hasn't started ramping up yet for the next day. Here are few reasons why this can lead to more effective journaling.
- Recall the day in its entirety. Journaling at the end of your day allows you to reflect on the day as a whole. This helps you better analyze your behavior during the day, how your actions may haveaffected you or others around you, and look at those behaviors and actions from a more objective perspective. Any adrenaline, stress, or anxiety you may have felt throughout the day has usually dissipated by this point in the evening, and you are able to more clearly see how you responded to certain situations. This can help you decide what went well and what did not, so that, hopefully, you will not make the same mistakes the next day.
- Clarity. As we write our thoughts about the events of our day, we may start understanding why we—or others—behaved the way we did. Seeing the whole picture during a situation can be difficult, as can evaluating what we are feeling and why during those situations. At the end of the day, when the proverbial dust as settled, we are able to take a step back, look at the big picture, and better evaluate a situation.
- Emotional well being. Working through events and associated emotions is good for our emotional well being. Writing allows your psyche with a confidential outlet to express thoughts and feelings without rejection, judgment, or repercussions. Holding onto emotions burdens our hearts. By writing down our thoughts and feelings, we take the burden off of our heart, offering the kind of relief that is rarely possible when confiding in even our closest friends or family.
- Memory boost. Journaling at night is a great way to exercise and boost your memory. In the silence of the evening, without all those other distractions, you may be able to remember more details and events than you realize. Moreover, the more you write in your journal and the more of a habit it becomes, the more you start seeing your days from the perspective of how you will record them. You will start to notice more details, more feelings, and even more thoughtful reflection on the events that occur throughout the day.
- Mindfulness. We have all had those bad days when we lie in bed wondering, “What went wrong?” All too often, though, we get distracted while trying to work through it. Writing about it forces you to sit down and focus on it, allowing you to get to the root of what went wrong and why. The same is true when you have a good day. By stopping for a few minutes to write about what went right that day, you will probably see more than you thought and be able to better focus on the positives going forward.
- Healing. We all get hurt in life, by different people, and to different degrees. It can be hard to work through those hurts alone or even by talking with another person. Journaling offers you an unbiased, non-judgmental forum to work through the process of healing from hurt. It is a continuous record of your thoughts and emotions, allowing you to look back and see how your feelings and emotions have changed, and what has happened since the hurt to help you move forward.