The Mental Health Benefits of Journaling
A journal was your best friend as a teenager if you're like me. It’s the one thing that kept me sane and had my head above water as I was navigating the murky waters of my teenage years.
I’d write about boys I liked, how certain things and people made me feel, bodily changes, and the many other things that go through a teenager’s mind. I dare not forget how private I was with my journal – I always looked for new places to hide it because I didn’t want anyone to ever read my deepest thoughts. Journaling was a release – only that I don’t think any of us was fully aware of its mental health benefits.
Do you still journal or did you leave that behind when you clocked 18 years old?
I know how busy life can get so much so there isn’t enough time to journal. Between running households, parenting, and trying to keep a full-time job…. Journaling might be the least of your priorities. However, I’m here to re-ignite your love story with journaling and if you’ve never journaled, I’m here to make my case as to why you should start journaling.
What is Journaling?
Journaling is simply putting your thoughts, insights, and feelings on record. You can type them out on your laptop or write them down on paper. It’s one of the easiest ways to cope with life stressors and emotions – both positive and negative. A journal is great because it archives your progress in life and reminds you of how far you’ve come. There are different types of journaling and they include:
Gratitude journaling: Noticing and writing about what or who you’re most thankful for daily. This reminds you of your blessings – and the small things we often forget to be grateful for.
Personal plan journaling: This serves as a manual for your short and long-term goals. It’s great for keeping you accountable and tracking your progress. You can have weekly, monthly, or yearly goals.
Stream of consciousness journaling: This lets your thoughts and ideas flow freely as they happen and puts that on paper. Write what comes to mind without planning or overthinking.
Reflective journaling: Writing to explore your emotions, experiences, or ideas. It requires careful thinking and analysis so that you can make sense of the situation. You can use journaling prompts to improve your reflective writing.
The benefits of journaling on mental health
Journaling is not a quick fix to mental health issues but it goes a long way in improving your wellbeing. Here are some of its benefits.
It helps with managing anxiety. Intrusive thoughts from anxiety can be a burden to live with, and journaling is the perfect medium by which you can transfer those thoughts. Journaling allows you to express your deepest worries and fears instead of obsessing over them in your head.
It relieves the symptoms of depression. Journaling is an avenue for releasing repressed negative emotions and thoughts. If you’re struggling with depression, you’ll find that journaling will help you reframe your patterns of thinking into more positive ones. It’s not an alternative to therapy but it complements it.
It’s a useful tool for stress management. Life is filled with everyday stressors from relationships and work. Journaling makes it easier to navigate life’s troubles while greatly improving our well-being and keeping us away from anxiety and depression. It can help you track your sources of stress so that you can work on minimizing them.
It can be used in trauma recovery. Healing from trauma takes time and journaling can help ease the process. Traumatic events change someone’s ability to cope normally and journaling works to help rewire someone’s brain for growth and healing. It reduces the symptoms and consequences of the trauma by helping one develop new narratives that support their healing.
It’s a tool for mindfulness. We have so many distractions today and our attention spans keep decreasing with every new technological advancement. Journaling helps us focus on the present moment and keeps us grounded. Mindfulness improves mental functions, concentration, clarity, and emotional intelligence.
It helps put your life in order. Life can feel so chaotic sometimes. There can be so much to do and without proper planning and journaling, your brain can feel scattered. Journaling helps you mentally lay out all your plans for the future and helps you visualize your goals which makes it easier to achieve them.
How to journal for mental health using Gabby Cares Life Planner
Our new journal planner is a must-have for your mental health! I’m not just saying that because we published it, I mean it. There are a lot of valuable nuggets in it that can help you achieve the life you dream about. We’re talking about affirmations, a monthly plan guide, journal prompts, and many other useful tools. Here’s a formula by the Center for Journal Therapy that will help you get started with your journaling journey;
W – What do you want to write about? What’s happening in your life right now? How do you feel or what are you thinking about in the present moment? What do you want? Name everything.
R – Review or reflect on it. Take a few minutes to breathe in and out and be still. Bring your mind to the present moment. Start your sentences with, “I feel…” “I want…” “I think…” “Right now….” “In this moment…”
I – Investigate how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking about. Keep at it and don’t stop writing. Gloss over what you’ve already written if you might get stuck or your mind wanders then re-focus and keep going.
T – Time yourself. Give this exercise at least 5 to 15 minutes. Keep a timer or stopwatch to hold you accountable.
E – Exit the writing space by going through what you’ve written and truly reflecting on it. Summarize it in one or two sentences – “I feel…” “I’m aware of…” I notice….” If you have any action steps you’d like to take, note them down.
Our life planner journal is now available for you to order. Take your time reading through the prompts to explore your heart, mind, and emotions while embracing the changes that flow around you daily. You deserve this!