Keeping a journal or a diary is the New Year's resolution you didn't know you needed.

Lose weight, exercise more, quit sugar, drink less alcohol – if you made a New Year’s resolution before Sunday it was likely a health-focused goal.

But while many people entered 2017 with the intention to improve their health and wellbeing, those of us who committed to putting pen to paper are likely to feel unexpected benefits.

Yes, if you promised yourself you would regularly write in a journal or diary this year, you’re in for a welcome surprise.

Whatever your reasons for recording your thoughts, feelings and actions are, your new habit might just be the best decision you ever made.

Researchers have linked journaling to improving in mood and stress levels, and even combating illness, including diseases like asthma, AIDS and cancer.

In an article that appeared in news and entertainment website Mic, writer Rachel Grate details the many benefits of writing in a journal.

A 2013 study showed that writing isn’t just a good way to clear your head – it could even make that cut on your knee heal faster.

Author Elizabeth Gilbert’s kept a journal while travelling and later released the semi-auto biographical novel Eat Pray Love. Here she is talking to Mia Freedman. Post continues after video…

Video by Mamamia Women's Network.

Researchers found that 76 per cent of adults who spent time writing about their thoughts and before a biopsy were fully healed 11 days later, compared to just 42 per cent of their non-journaling counterparts.

Yep, that’s right – the power of words effectively healed them – faster, that is.

And if you’re not recovering from surgery, but a traumatic event, another study showed that people who wrote about a trauma were less likely to get sick than people who had not kept a journal. They also had lower blood pressure and better liver function.

But what if you really don’t like writing? How much time do you need to spend writing to reap these impressive benefits? Not long actually.

According to the 2005 study, writing for 15 to 20 minutes just three to five times over a four-month period is enough.

Keeping a diary has many health benefits. (Image via iStock.)

Other research points to diary writing's ability to help you recover from an experience and learn from it.

And if you're keeping a gratitude journal - even better. Being grateful has been linked to better sleep among other things.

Need more reasons to pick up the pen? Well, it's been proven to help you get over a breakup for one.

Yep, a la Bridget Jones, you can vent about your dirty, rotten cheating ex-boyfriend to your heart's content, knowing that it will not only make you feel better in the moment, but it actually helps you get over your heartbreak faster.

Bridget Jones had the right idea... in many ways. (Image via Studio Canal.)

It's also the best way to get yourself in the best emotional shape possible for future relationships.

Don't get us wrong, crying on a girlfriend's shoulder while inhaling a tub of ice cream will also help, but writing your feelings down is just a little bit more beneficial.

And it doesn't matter if you write on a laptop or keep a physical diary, either way, you're going to feel the health benefits of diary writing.

So to all of you embarking on a goal to record your daily experiences in this coming year, happy writing.

Can't commit to a resolution? Try a word of the year. Yours could be 'write'.