The Benefits of Journaling

September 17, 2021  - by 
a man writes in his journal.

Do you keep a journal? A diary? Notes of what is happening in your life, right now? Many people use journaling to relieve stress, capture treasured memories while they are fresh, record the historic times they are living through, and just as a way to make use of some found time. 

The benefits of keeping a journal are both personal and historical. As we mention in our previous article, keeping a journal can help you manage anxiety. Even if you aren’t going through a stressful time, keeping a journal is an important way to record the stories of daily life today for the generations of tomorrow.

Journaling to Preserve Personal History

Have you ever found a letter or recipe, handwritten by one of your ancestors? The personal touch to these little snippets of history can make us feel a much deeper connection with the people who lived before us. Be it your great-great-grandmother noting that you should replace half the shortening with butter because that’s how she likes to make it, or your distant uncle complaining that his uniform has not been dry in three weeks due to bad weather where he is stationed with the army, these voices from the past are much more genuine than history books or official documents.

Our daily lives don’t always seem significant. We know what kind of clothing we wear, how we get to work, and what kind of flowers we have in our garden. But have you ever looked at old photographs? Look at the setting, the clothing, and the objects that made up the lives of the people in those photos. They tell a personal story.

While it may not seem like anyone would want to read about our personal lives, put yourself in the shoes of your great-great-grandchildren, or imagine how fascinating it would be to read the personal thoughts and daily experiences written by a 13th-century farmer.

Telling Untold Stories

Journals give voices to those who sometimes are not heard. Everyone has a unique experience, even during a globally important event. There will be many records kept and many intellectual articles written about the global pandemic that began in 2020, but just as important are the chorus of voices who lived through that difficult time.

If you have read or heard of Anne Frank and The Diary of a Young Girl, you know the power that a personal voice can bring to a historic event. As Nella Last wrote in her own diary, “I can never understand how the scribbles of such an ordinary person […] can possibly have value.” Nella’s journals telling of her experiences in Britain during World War II are now a popular book trilogy. Whether they are published or just preserved by family members, journals offer insight into the real experiences of real people. As both Nella and Anne’s diaries show, the benefits of journaling are sometimes for others.

Personal Reflection through Journaling

Not every journal is meant to be shared. Journaling can be a wonderful source of personal reflection, even years after the words were written down. In the end, when you journal, you are writing for yourself, and you can choose if and how you want to share those memories later. You may want to one day share your story with your family or in a memoir, and personal journals are a great way to remember things.

Online Journals

We live in a time where personal stories appear frequently in the form of short commentaries on social media and status messages, selfies, and photos of food. All of these snapshots tell a story about us and the world we live in today.

Online journaling is a way to share your experiences in a deeper and more detailed way. FamilySearch Memories is an easy way to begin creating your own online journal. You can include photos and organize your thoughts and memories by topic. Once you have added something, you can choose to share it or not.

Have you tried FamilySearch Memories? Do you plan to start keeping a journal, or do you already do so? However you choose to journal, know that expressing your voice can have untold benefits for you and others.

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  1. I started journaling in the autumn of 2005, about a year after my father died and I still write in my journal today. 🙂

  2. The family search system keeps transferring me to me wife’s account. I don’t use her account and do not know her password. But when it does I cannot access my genealogy or other records. When I change my password, the system then messes up my wife’s account. So she changes her password, which then messes up my account. It appears to be an endless devilish circle. Please help!

    1. Hi Var! Please contact FamilySearch Support for assistance. Select Visit the FamilySearch Community or search for your geographical area and select “Live Chat Support” or “Live Phone Support”.