The advantages of having a journal

To have a journal or a blog?

This article is all about the advantages of having a journal and it has been adapted from in which has released in 2014 for the first time. The content is still fresh and useful. It does not speak about blogging directly, but it could be considered as an article about advantages of regular blogging too. I find it useful. I hope you enjoy it, as I do.

Science Shows Something Surprising About Adults Who Still Keep a Journal

When we think of diaries, we typically picture moody teens chronicling their social crises and unrequited crushes. But plenty of people continue to document their daily secrets long after high school — and according to recent science, they may have healthier brains than those who keep that information bottled up.

According to neuroscientists and psychologists, keeping personal information inside your head creates a conflict between two brain regions, which in turn leads to reduced cognitive function. The good news: The simple act of writing down those secrets may help undo the harm. In that way, keeping a journal has actual healing powers.

Why keeping your secrets is harmful

David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine, has developed one of the most widely known theories explaining how keeping secrets hurts the brain.

“The main thing known about secrets is that keeping them is unhealthy for the brain,” writes Eagleman in his book Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. “The reason a secret is experienced consciously is because it results from a rivalry.”

According to Eagleman’s theory, two brain regions are responsible for harboring a secret, and they become engaged in a “neural conflict.” One region wants to get the information off your chest to relieve stress and the other wants to bury it deep into your subconscious. Ultimately, one region wins, but all that fighting wears your brain down. Mic reached out to Eagleman for greater detail regarding the exact neurobiology, but he declined to comment.

Other research can help explain what our brains endure as we try not to let our secrets out. According to Clayton Critcher, a psychologist at University of California, Berkeley, keeping secrets is one of our “self-regulation” processes, much like the one we go through when resisting junk food while on a diet. He believes these processes are so taxing that our brain can only handle one at a time.

In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology earlier this year, Critcher and colleagues studied how expending energy to keep a secret reduced available cognitive capacity needed for other tasks. In a simulated exercise, the researchers found that those who concealed their sexual orientation during a simulated interview were subsequently physically weaker (based on grip strength) and less able to keep their cool during a frustrating social interaction than those who weren’t forced to conceal their orientation.

“Constantly attending to what you’re about to say hurts other domains,” Critcher told Mic, “and that can make it harder to control other emotional reactions. You’re more likely to snap back at someone during a conversation.”

The strain of secrecy manifests in symptoms of reduced mental and physical health. Keeping secrets leads to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Research has shown that teenagers who keep secrets are more depressed and anxious, and that people who conceal information are more likely to develop headaches, nausea and back pain.

Photo by Vee O on Unsplash

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