Is writing a diary good for your memory? 28.10.19

Brain training to keep the memory in tip-top shape is a growing concern for millions, not least because increased life expectancy has seen the number of people that will suffer from memory-related illnesses skyrocket in recent decades. Could writing a personal diary be one of the smartest steps to combatting the threat of those conditions?

Despite an increased willingness to read about the lives of others (as is shown by the growing popularity of autobiographies), as well as a desire to broadcast our daily lives on social media, the concept of writing a diary has become far less common. But it might be one of the key ingredients in the recipe for success; here’s why:

Expressing Your Experiences Helps You Reach Better Conclusions

Understanding our experiences and being able to learn valuable outcomes from them is a central feature for building a better memory. Writing them down, either in a paper personalised diary or via a blog, can is the perfect way to relive those recent experiences and actually contemplate what can be ascertained from them. Writing rather than other forms of communication actively force you to think more about those outcomes as you attempt to make sense of them and express them in a coherent fashion.

Reaching more reasoned conclusions will give you the best chance of recalling the information at a later date. Meanwhile, this analytical thought process can establishing winning habits that influence the way you process and remember information in other aspects of your life.

Writing A Diary Reinforces The Memory During Sleep

It’s very easy to experience something and forget it almost immediately. However, writing a diary encourages the mind to consolidate and stabilise those thoughts and memories during our sleep. This significantly boosts our ability to recall this information at a later date. Studies have been conducted into this, concluding that writing a diary in the evenings is the best option by far. The suggestion is that the memories are fresher in your mind during your sleep, which helps cement them in the individual’s mind.

Even writing yesterday’s memories in the evening is better than doing it in the morning, which gives greater credence to this reasoning. Either way, the ability to accurately recall memories is far better when you have written them down. This is reminiscent of academic learning too.

Putting Your Thoughts Out There Establishes Greater Clarity

We can all appreciate how difficult it is to remember things that were said while our minds were focused elsewhere. Unfortunately, having thoughts of yesterday’s events swirling around your mind can cloud those interactions, which will impact the ability to absorb info and remember it. Expressing your thoughts via a diary takes them off of your mind, which subsequently provides the clarity of focus needed to take more from new experiences.

The increased organisation of your mind can support short-term and long-term memory benefits. Moreover, the diary writing procedures can help internally compartmentalise the various experiences and info that you’ve learnt, further supporting your memory.

Writing Gives Permanence To Your Past

Expressive writing is shown to boost your working memory, but it also ensures that your past is not forgotten. When we remember past events, we are actually remembering the last time we thought about them. Therefore, having them clearly defined in the form of a diary actively stops those memories becoming warped over time. This ensures that the mental imagery remains clear for many years to come, which can only have a positive impact on your long-term memory.

As well as permanence to the past, the bookmark lets you reflect on the moment and make a mental bookmark. Consequently, then, contrary to some people’s beliefs, it’ll aid your future rather than hinder it.

Journaling Boosts Your Cognitive Processing

Cognitive processing is central to our memory and brain capacity. In act, cognitive decline is one of the most significant factors in the onset of dementia. Writing a diary encourages us to interact with our surroundings and our own experiences in a far more meaningful manner, which brings increased cognition and will keep the mind well trained. Slowing and halting declines in this sense won’t make you invincible but will significantly reduce your vulnerability.

Keeping the memory sharp through journaling will support cognitive processing in the short, mid, and long-term future with greater effect than many of the alternative activities that you may have tried to incorporate into your world.

Writing A Diary Organises Your Emotions

Severe memory problems can often manifest in confused emotions. Not knowing how to process experiences and memories from an emotional viewpoint inevitably leads to a host of further brain processing issues. Unlike social media, which usually present a false happiness, a diary is likely to paint an honest picture of your world. By enabling yourself to express emotions, even to yourself, is shown to have hugely positive long-term impacts.

Regulate emotional responses in this manner, you become more synchronised with experiences and memories for immediate and ongoing benefits. This increased brainpower and emotional awareness will boost your quality of life while allowing you to tap into memories with greater results.

Writing Keeps The Mind Active

Apart from anything else, writing supports the idea of keeping the brain active. Spending hours sat in front of the PlayStation can slowly but surely turn your brain to mush. Attention spans are falling as a direct result of changing lifestyles and the fact that we are more engaged with screens than our surroundings, loved ones, and selves is the key. Writing helps you reconnect while also ensuring that the brain remains engaged at all times.

While there are no guarantees involved, the correlation between brain training and brain power cannot be ignored. An active mind is likely to hold onto its memories, along with other key capabilities, for a happy and fulfilling life.

The Final Word

Writing a diary is great for the brain, providing clarity, and supporting the idea of accessing memories for years to come. If you are yet to document your life in this way, now is the time to start.

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