Think of how you have you handled some of life’s tricky situations: your boss criticizing you in front of others, your spouse making unreasonable demands of you, or your best friend inadvertently not showing up to your birthday party. Wouldn’t your life be oh-so-much smoother if in the midst of these events you were able to appropriately express your feelings? Rather than having a fit, or biting your tongue and not saying anything, you’d express yourself gracefully and later process it, and then move on to more important things in your life.

Many of us spend a lot of time in our journals ranting and raving, whining and sputtering. I know I have! Especially when my kids were young and I needed a place to vent without losing it, my journal was my best listener. When I was facing some big dilemmas–changing careers, dealing with difficult moments with friends, coping with illness within my extended family–and my emotional balance was precarious, my journal was where I poured out my frustrations, anger, disappointments, and despair.

I lived through it all and journal writing did help me feel better, but it turns out I could have been even more effective.

Brain science has moved us to a greater understanding of how writing for emotional balance helps us manage our emotions and how we can use journaling more effectively than simply ranting in our journals. Psychologist Beth Jacobs, the author of the book, Writing for Emotional Balance, teaches more about how the brain processes emotions and how writing can help in her online course, learn more at Writing for Emotional Balance.