by Taquina Davis, PhD, MA, CHES

Many may be surprised to learn that a journal can be one of your best wellness tools. During a phase of transition in my life (professional, medical, and mental), I used journaling as a way to cope with the stress of life. In addition to addressing mental health through counseling, I fostered the idea of journaling. In combination with prayer and counseling, journaling helped me write down my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Rather than bottle them up – journaling was an effective outlet for therapy. People engage in journaling for various reasons, and it serves as a powerful tool for self-reflection, emotional processing, and personal growth.

Journaling is writing down your thoughts, feelings, experiences, and observations on paper or through digital means; journaling is a therapeutic activity different from keeping a diary. Instead of recording events, journaling is a way to express and process your thoughts and emotions around specific events. It serves as a window into the internal landscapes of the mind, providing a tangible snapshot of one’s inner thoughts at any given time.

Some benefits of journaling include managing stress, anxiety, and depression. Journaling practice can help you cope with difficult moments in life or long-term emotional patterns.
There is a growing body of research on the benefits of journaling. Over recent decades, it has become clear that many different groups can benefit from this practice.

  • Treating depression symptoms: Research shows that journaling, particularly expressive writing, effectively reduces depression symptoms.
  • Treating anxiety symptoms: Journaling also effectively reduces anxiety symptoms, specifically positive affect journaling, which focuses on positive emotions.
  • Reducing stress: Certain forms of journaling can reduce stress symptoms. One study of 66 registered nurses found that burnout and compassion fatigue rates significantly decreased after six 2.5-hour journaling class sessions.

A study of 70 adults with medical conditions and anxiety found that writing about positive experiences, like gratitude, for 12 weeks was linked to reduced distress and increased well-being. Additionally, a 2018 research review suggests that writing about your deepest thoughts and feelings may contribute to:

  • improved mood
  • greater well-being
  • lower blood pressure
  • fewer stress-related doctor visits

My Personal Journal Journey

In 2023, I had a dramatic shift in my life. I was laid off, had medical issues, emotionally and spiritually deprived. During this time, in addition to prayer, I leaned heavily on acknowledging my thoughts and emotions by writing them down. Journaling was a great way to express and process thoughts and emotions around this uncomfortable time. It helped me improve my mental and physical health while enhancing my creativity. Expressive writing improved my well-being, allowing me to focus on gratitude and to process my emotions. By separating myself from my thoughts, I gained perspective and clarity. Self-discovery is how I describe my journal journey. It encourages self-reflection while recognizing valuable aspects of my life that I might otherwise overlook. I explored my spiritual thoughts and gained insight into my experiences and emotions through writing. This inspired me to publish My Spiritual Journal. My Spiritual Journal is a 12-week Scripture, Gratitude & Prayer Journal that includes Bible verses, self-reflection activities, and prayer journaling prompts to enrich your relationship with yourself and God.

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to journaling. You can choose from various styles, such as stream-of-consciousness, dream journals, or food journals. The key is to find what resonates with you and make it a regular practice. So, grab your pen or open that digital notepad—your journal awaits!

Taquina Davis, Ph.D., is a Managing Partner at Health E Strategies LLC and adjunct professor in the School of Health Sciences Department for Purdue University Global. Dr. Taquina Davis comes to Health E Strategies with over 15+ years of experience demonstrating the ability to partner with multiple sectors effectively, including managing and assisting with advocacy, health and racial equity, community engagement, and health care delivery. Taquina has her MA in Health & Wellness with a concentration in alternative medicine and her Ph.D. in Health Education & Promotion and is a certified health education specialist (CHES). Additionally, she is an adjunct professor in the School of Health Sciences Department for Purdue University Global.


Baikie, K. A., & Wilhelm, K. (2005). Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 11(5), 338–346. doi:10.1192/apt.11.5.338

Dimitroff LJ, Sliwoski L, O’Brien S, Nichols LW. Change your life through journaling–the benefits of journaling for registered nurses. Journal of Nursing Education and Practice. 2016;7(2):90. doi:10.5430/jnep.v7n2p90

Krpan KM, Kross E, Berman MG, Deldin PJ, Askren MK, Jonides J. An everyday activity as a treatment for depression: the benefits of expressive writing for people diagnosed with major depressive disorder. J Affect Disord. 2013;150(3):1148-1151. doi:10.1016%2Fj.jad.2013.05.065

Smyth JM, Johnson JA, Auer BJ, Lehman E, Talamo G, Sciamanna CN. Online positive affect journaling in the improvement of mental distress and well-being in general medical patients with elevated anxiety symptoms: a preliminary randomized controlled trial. JMIR Ment Health. 2018;5(4):e11290. doi:10.2196%2F11290