How Journaling Helps Teenagers Emotionally

Journaling is the habit of writing down any aspect of one's life. Keep reading to learn how journaling helps teenagers emotionally.
How Journaling Helps Teenagers Emotionally
Sharon Capeluto

Written and verified by the psychologist Sharon Capeluto.

Last update: 06 February, 2023

Journaling is the habit of writing down one’s thoughts, feelings, and life experiences. It involves capturing one’s reflections, fears, desires, and emotions through words in a notebook. In the following article, we want to tell you all about how journaling helps teenagers emotionally.

Although this practice is deeply valuable at any stage of life, during adolescence, it could have an even more significant meaning. In this regard, we should keep in mind that this period is usually experienced with a considerably particular emotional intensity. So what better than a journal to express such sentimental turmoil?

What is journaling?

Simply put, journaling’s the practice of recording one’s life in a diary . This is an approach that has no rigid instructions, as there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Each person can choose how to approach this experience and decide how deep or light they want their writing to be.

In a notebook, you can write about your deepest fears and innermost thoughts. But it’s also okay to write down situations that you’ve experienced during the day and reflect on them.

Putting thoughts down on paper has a much greater impact than many people imagine. The interesting thing about journaling is that there are no pressures, no mandates, and no demands. Therapeutic writing is writing without a filter. When a person writes down their thoughts and emotions, mental noise is softened while the paper is filled.

A teenager writing in a notebook.
Journaling represents one of the great tools in psychotherapeutic processes with adolescents. It’s about having a conversation with oneself.

How journaling helps teenagers emotionally

The positive effects of this activity are truly powerful and scientifically proven. Here are some of the benefits that will make you suggest this practice for your teenagers without hesitation.

1. It favors self-knowledge

Teenagers are in the midst of a transformation process, as their identity begins to decree and strengthen itself. J ournaling is a great way to connect with oneself and get to know oneself better. Writing is a way to take a closer look at one’s heart and to listen more closely to one’s thoughts. It also allows one to discover one’s own dark and light areas.

Through self-knowledge, it’s easier to clarify one’s ideas and to reflect on one’s life: What one wants to be, what one doesn’t want to be, what one wants to achieve, or what one would like to let go of. In this regard, those who write down their thoughts daily have a lighter and clearer mind.

2. Improves well-being after stressful or traumatic events

Expressing a traumatic or very difficult situation in writing helps you to elaborate on it. Let’s keep in mind that the symbolization of experiences that are difficult to process is achieved through language. A study conducted in 2018 by the University of Cambridge concluded that writing about traumatic, stressful, or emotional events translates into improvements in physical and psychological health.

In this regard, the practice of journaling helps a person to let go of burdens and also heal wounds. In addition, it works as a tool that aims to symbolize emotionally intense situations through words. This is an issue that teenagers know well.

3. Journaling helps to reduce feelings of anxiety and distress

In addition to putting a person’s thoughts in order, the exercise of writing on paper allows you to empty the mind of disturbing, uncomfortable, or painful memories. Adolescent fears, the intensity of first loves and heartbreaks, academic stress, and the complex relationship with one’s own body are characteristic issues of this stage, which often cause them to lose their emotional balance.

By writing about these issues, young people are able to externalize what distresses or anguishes them and mitigate less pleasant feelings.

A girl lying in bed writing in her diary.
Journaling is about letting emotions run free and capturing them in a diary. This represents a safe space for young people, as there’s no room for outside opinions.

4. It represents a safe space

A personal diary is a safe space for adolescents. There, they can express themselves freely without being judged. There’s no room for outside opinions, no criticism, and no risk of being rejected. On the contrary, it’s a pressure-free exercise in which young people can write without a filter, as they’re not worried about what others will say.

An undemanding practice

Fortunately, journaling doesn’t require expensive materials or strict adherence to rigorous rules. All you need is a pen and a notebook to get started in this practice which, as we’ve said, contributes significantly to the well-being of those who practice it. At the same time, spending a lot of time on this exercise isn’t a necessary condition: A few minutes are enough to start writing a diary.

At the same time, not being a talented writer isn’t an excuse for not journaling. There’s no need to create wonderful texts or write like a renowned writer. Remember that the most important thing is to be genuine with one’s emotions and thoughts, and let yourself be carried away by the words you write.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Baikie, K. y Wilhelm, K. (2005). Beneficios para la salud emocional y física de la escritura expresiva. Avances en el tratamiento psiquiátrico, 11(5), 338-346. doi:10.1192/apt.11.5.338.
  • Fernandez, E. Invitación a la Escritura Terapéutica: Ideas Para Generar Bienestar. International Journal of Collaborative Practice 4(1), 2013: 27- 47.
  • PennebakerJ. W. (2002Lo que nuestras palabras pueden decir de nosotros. Hacia una psicología del lenguaje más ampliaAgenda de Ciencias Psicológicas1589.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.