Building Self-Esteem Through Journaling

Pencil, clock, coffee cup, and red notebook for journaling to build self-esteem

By Melissa Camacho

Self-esteem can be practiced through journaling and expressive writing as emotional healing to manage depression and anxiety. According to research, people who suffer from depression and anxiety experience low self-esteem (Coelho). This means that low self-esteem is correlated to symptoms of depression and anxiety. You may be seeking and pursuing ways to minimize these symptoms by building your self-confidence. Certain questions may come to mind, such as:

  • Why don’t I feel good about myself? 
  • How can I get past my traumatic experiences?
  • What can I do to change the way my experiences impact my self-esteem?

If you are asking yourself any of these questions or other related concerns, you are on the right track to resilience and self-empowerment. Writing down your thoughts and emotions becomes the imprint to gain your willpower. In this article, you will learn how the process of journaling and expressive writing helps you embrace and validate your inner-self to boost your self-esteem.

Defining Self-Esteem and How it Affects Cognitive Functioning 

Self-esteem is defined as how you measure and evaluate your self-worth, which is known to shape your physical health because it’s linked to the gray matter (GM) volume of your brain’s hippocampus, the part that regulates cognitive learning and memory  (Lu, et al.). So, what is the function of the GM within your brain? The GM regulates cognitive activity related to learning, remembering, reasoning, and is essentially responsible for cognitive functions within the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex, located in the outermost layer of the brain, is responsible for decision-making, memory processing, and problem-solving abilities (Ocran).

Research studies show that the higher the volume of GM in the decision-making part of your brain, the greater your ability will be to evaluate your rewards and achievements (Gray Matter in Brain’s Control Center Linked to Ability to Process Reward). In understanding how self-esteem has a positive effect on cognitive functionality, let’s take a look at how journaling increases your self-esteem. 

How Self-Expression through Journaling Impacts Your Self-Esteem 

Your self-esteem can develop through expressive writing when you freely describe your emotions into words,  which reduces levels of depression and anxiety (12 Tips for Self-Expression through Journal Writing). In the process of engaging in your own self-expression when journaling, your mind recalls occurrences of events that led to your emotions, which gives you an understanding of who you are, and what your desires are (Madeson).

Because journaling and expressive writing allows you to think creatively by freely choosing words to convey your emotions and ideas, it benefits you to (Thatcher):

  • Increase self-awareness by becoming more attentive to your inner motivations, beliefs, emotions, and behaviors. 
  • Exercise self-control and gain effective decision-making skills to fulfill your goals and desires. 
  • Improve your mental and physical health.

As you can see, the effects of self-expression through journaling become the building blocks of self-esteem. When you are journaling, you are processing your thoughts as they become intuitive with traumatic events that are organized in your mind. In other words, you are forming a narrative about your emotions through your own words. This in turn becomes a motive to propel you to redirect your thoughts towards self-empowerment. Your self-esteem will grow as you begin to acknowledge and validate the outcomes of processing your emotions through journaling

To conclude, journaling and expressive writing has a positive impact on your thinking abilities by promoting your self-esteem. Without feeling confident, there isn’t as much input to produce ideas in making effective decisions. You can practice and build your self-esteem through our expressive writing program at The Love Story. Once you engage in our interactive journaling site, you will encounter the flexibility to express your thoughts and embrace your inner-self.

Begin Journaling Here.


Coelho, Steph “9 Tips for Strengthening Self-Esteem When You Have Depression” PsychCentral. 05 Jan 2022.

Filly, Christopher “You have likely heard of the brain’s gray matter – here is why the white matter is important too” Brainline. Accessed 07 Nov 2022.

Lu, H., Li, X., Wang, Y. et al. “The hippocampus underlies the association between self-esteem and physical health” Sci Rep 8, 17141 (2018).

Madeson, Melissa  “Self-esteem Journals, Prompts, PDFs, and Ideas” Positive Psychology. 14 Jun 2020.

Ocran, Edwin “Cerebral Cortex” Kenhub. 22 Jul 2022.

Thatcher, Christina “How These Three Types of Writing Can Improve Self-Awareness and Mental Health” Science Alert. 19 June 2021.

“Gray Matter in Brain’s Control Center Linked to Ability to Process Reward” Brookhaven National Laboratory. 29 Nov 2011

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