Rutger Bruining, CEO of biography writing service StoryTerrace, discusses the secret behind journaling and the reasons why it has become a popular pastime.
1. Nostalgia increases our happiness
Looking back at past memories and life moments has become commonplace over the course of the past year, offering us a form of escapism from the pandemic. And while reflecting on the past can be an intellectual activity, nostalgia is also an emotional one. Memory is about recalling the facts of a past event; nostalgia is about recalling how it felt to be there. Nostalgia is also related to higher self-esteem, happiness, and feelings of closeness to loved ones – engaging in past memories evoke these feelings for us, boosting our overall mood.
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 and increase our sense of wellbeing. 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. Writing 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. We move from email to email or meeting to meeting with little time to pause and think about our lives and their meaning — a situation that’s only been made worse by the distractions of smartphones. Yet Harvard researchers have found that making time for self-reflection is a crucial component of learning. Writing a journal or biography is a rewarding exercise in self-reflection, whether you’re thinking about a day’s work or your life as a whole.
4. Journaling helps to reduce our stress levels
Allocating some devoted downtime to a daily activity – whether it be 10 minutes or an hour – can really help to induce calmness, especially after a particularly busy day. An overload of stress can be detrimental to our overall health, including our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Journaling is an effective stress management tool – it doesn’t really matter what you decide to write about, but deconstructing stressful events in our day can be a beneficial way to mentally put them to bed.
5. Journaling can improve short-term and long-term memory
One of the reasons people come to us at StoryTerrace is because they do not want their life experiences to be forgotten, but many people who document their lives are unaware that the process itself can improve their memory of the past. Journaling also works to significantly improve our ‘working memory’, which is the ability to store and manipulate information in our minds over brief intervals. The process of writing down our fleeting thoughts and feelings encourages the mind to consolidate our memories when we sleep, which boosts our ability to recall them later.
Rutger Bruining is CEO of biography writing service StoryTerrace. StoryTerrace helps people to turn their life story into a book. The company takes care of the whole process – matching clients with one of their 600 professional writers, interviews, photo gathering, editing, design and printing. Books are on average 100 pages long, meaning that everyone can have their life story – or the life stories of their loved ones – documented in a professionally curated autobiography, biography, or series of memoirs.