7 great reasons to use a notebook for better mental health

bird notebook on a bench

If you have thoughts, you’re a thinker.

Every human being engages their mind all day, every day.

And the mind can be exercised and optimised, just like the body, with a few simple tools.

Your smartphone can do almost anything, especially with the right apps.

But it’s useful to sometimes ditch your phone in favour of a trusty notebook because there are things a notebook can do for your brain that a smart device cannot.

1. Disconnecting is good for your brain.

Aside from improving your handwriting, switching from relying on your phone in every aspect of your life is beneficial for your thinking process.

You can’t check social networks on your notebook, for one, so you’re less distracted when using a notebook.

Committing to using a notebook for certain aspects of your life—say, a to-do list—can help wean you from your smartphone addiction.

Overusing your phone leads to sleep issues, anxiety, decreased productivity, and other issues, and experts recommend putting away your phone periodically during the day to break the cycle of checking and rechecking your notifications every few minutes.

Not to mention that constantly staring at the screen strains your eyes.

Outsourcing a few of your digital tasks to a physical notebook can make it easier to stay away from the screen.

If you don’t know what you would fill a paper notebook with, try starting with something easy, like a planner, where you can keep track of your goals, to-do list, and appointments in an organised fashion.

Doodling and journaling (try these free journaling courses to get started) are also amazing for clearing your mental capacity.

2. Handwriting tops typing.

Writing by hand has many advantages compared to typing. And keeping a notebook on hand is a great way to keep your penmanship skills sharp.

Studies find that writing by hand helps you process information better, remember more, and think faster compared to typing.

Plus, it improves your spelling.

Occasionally jotting down thoughts in a notebook is a handy way to reinvigorate the parts of your brain (and hand) that don’t get a workout when you type on a computer or a smartphone.

3. You can use it for everything.

Notebooks trump apps in versatility.

They aren’t just for journaling, though they’re great for that, too.

A notebook can be a repository for all the odds and ends you want to remember, from your monthly budget to your grocery list to your list of all the great restaurants you’ve visited or coffees you’ve enjoyed drinking.

Nor do you need to use it solely for writing.

It’s also a great place for your sketches, doodles, and diagrams.

4. Your memory is unreliable.

A notebook is the perfect place to jot down a quick thought before you forget it.

While you may think in the moment that the memory will stick with you, chances are, that little tidbit of information or spark of an idea won’t stick.

Not only is memory fleeting, but it’s incredibly fallible.

Researchers have found that even people with so-called Highly Superior Autobiographical Memories—super-memory skills that allow them to remember just about every detail of their lives—are susceptible to false memories.

Even when we believe we remember events vividly, our recollections can be wrong.

Is it any surprise that we struggle to remember phone numbers and grocery lists?

Your brain is primarily a thinking tool and if you want to make the most out of it, use it as such. Off-loading things that are important and need to be remembered into a notebook is a great way to free up that cognitive space your brain needs for better thinking.

When your brain has more capacity for thinking, and fewer demands on being a storage device, you’ll feel less tired, more clear-headed, and have better access to the intelligence hiding behind that overworked brain.

Carrying pen and paper makes it easy to write down information on the fly, providing a more accurate snapshot of the day when you go back to your notebook.

Getting down events and thoughts during the day is a good way to bolster your memory. It also helps you to process your experience of the day.

5. Writing is good for your mental health.

Journaling is an established technique doctors recommend for combating mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

Keeping a journal helps you express inner thoughts and fears, identify negative thought patterns, and track symptoms.

Even if you don’t have anxiety, keeping a journal helps clarify your feelings and allows you to get to know yourself.

You may think you don’t have time to dedicate to writing every day, but if you carry around a notebook, your diary will always be on hand to write in while you’re killing time during your daily life.

6. You never know when inspiration will strike.

How many times have you suddenly hit upon a fantastic idea, but weren’t able to get it down before it fled from your mind?

Everyone is full of thoughts, plans, and inspirations, but it’s hard to put them into practice if you don’t get them written down.

Carrying a notebook has been an essential part of the creative process for centuries.

Ludwig van Beethoven didn’t go anywhere without one, just in case inspiration struck while he was out.

Benjamin Franklin carried a pocket notebook to chart his moral progress on his “13 virtues” character development plan.

Mark Twain took notebooks with him wherever he travelled to write down observations and book ideas.

The same goes for today. Modern authors and artists know that their best ideas probably won’t come to them when they’re sitting down at their desks, ready to work.

So, we carry notebooks to make sure that we’re always ready when a brilliant thought comes to mind.

Writing things down by hand (or drawing) also helps improve memory retention, meaning after I have written it down, I’m more likely to have it on the back burner while doing other things.

Even if you aren’t planning on becoming a famous writer or composer, you no doubt have flashes of brilliance during your everyday life, and a notebook will allow you to remember them.

7. And a notebook will never run out of batteries.

Digital planners and apps are convenient and useful—until your phone runs out of juice.

I know this pain personally very well becaue I’m an avid note taker – both digital and physical. And one of the problems with a phone is precisely that it does so much, which can drain the battery real fast.

Paper and pen don’t require any charging and are always ready to use.

And running out of space in a notebook rarely takes you by surprise.

Even if you use your phone or computer for most writing tasks, it’s great to keep a notebook on hand for when your digital devices die on you.

Even if your phone isn’t yet dead, using a notebook can help you save that battery life for something more important, like getting directions or playing games.

A notebook may seem like a simple thing, but it can unlock a world of possibilities for you.

Learn by taking notes, sketch out new ideas, brainstorm with mind maps—the options are endless: take notes, brainstorm, sketch, make lists, journal, create.

And when you want your notebooks to be pretty as well as functional, swing by my shop and check out the notebooks there.