How Does Journaling Reduce Stress? Understanding the Science Behind It

Journaling has been found to be an effective stress management technique. In this blog post, we'll explore the science behind why journaling can help reduce stress, and how you can incorporate it into your own stress-reduction practice.

April 4, 2023 - Reading time: 4 minutes

Stress is an inevitable part of life, and finding healthy ways to manage it is crucial for our mental and physical well-being. One effective technique for reducing stress is journaling. Whether you're a seasoned journaler or new to the practice, understanding the science behind why journaling works can help you make the most of this powerful tool.

Journaling is a form of expressive writing that involves putting your thoughts and feelings down on paper. Studies have found that journaling can help reduce stress and improve mental health by:

  • Allowing for emotional regulation: Writing about your feelings can help you process them and regulate your emotions. When we're stressed, it's common to feel overwhelmed and unable to make sense of our thoughts. Journaling can provide a safe space to explore these feelings and gain clarity.
  • Providing a sense of control: Stress often stems from feeling like we're not in control of a situation. Journaling can provide a sense of agency, allowing us to take control of our thoughts and feelings. By writing down our stressors and identifying potential solutions, we can feel more in charge of our lives.
  • Serving as a coping strategy: Journaling can be a healthy coping strategy for dealing with stress. It provides an outlet for processing difficult emotions, which can help prevent them from building up and becoming overwhelming.
  • Boosting resilience: Writing about stressful experiences can help us make sense of them and find meaning in our struggles. This sense of resilience can help us navigate future stressors more effectively.

So, how can you start incorporating journaling into your stress management routine? Here are a few tips to get started:

  • Set aside dedicated time each day: Carve out time in your schedule for journaling, even if it's just a few minutes. Making journaling a regular habit can help you reap the benefits over time.
  • Write freely and without judgment: Allow yourself to write whatever comes to mind without worrying about grammar, spelling, or structure. This is a time for free expression, not perfection.
  • Use prompts: If you're not sure what to write about, consider using prompts to get started. You can find prompts online or create your own based on your interests and needs.
  • Experiment with different types of journaling: There's no one-size-fits-all approach to journaling. Experiment with different styles, such as bullet journaling, gratitude journaling, or visual journaling, to find what works best for you.

Incorporating journaling into your stress management routine can be a powerful tool for reducing stress and improving mental health. By understanding the science behind why journaling works and using these tips to get started, you can start reaping the benefits of this simple yet effective practice.


Baikie, K. A., & Wilhelm, K. (2005). Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment

Pennebaker, J. W. (1997). Writing about emotional experiences as a therapeutic process. Psychological Science

Ullrich, P. M., & Lutgendorf, S. K. (2002). Journaling about stressful events: Effects of cognitive processing and emotional expression. Annals of Behavioral Medicine

Zou, X. N., & Wagner, C. D. (2015). The effect of expressive writing on the reduction of stress in Chinese-speaking adults: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Health Psychology

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