Journaling does more than just help you record your memories and find self-expression. It is also good for your mental health.
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Journaling helps control your symptoms and improve your mood by paving the way for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts and behaviors.
It can help you track your symptoms to assist in recognizing triggers so that they can be controlled, as well as helping to rank fears, problems, and concerns.
“In my counseling practice, I have seen many clients improve their well-being through keeping a journal. Clients have experienced a reduction in anxiety and depression by keeping a journal. Having time to reflect can do wonders for your psyche.”
Stephanie A. Sarkis Ph.D. for PsychologyToday.com
Keeping any type of journal will help with improving any mental health issues. However, if you really want to tackle a specific problem you’re having, it will help to determine the right type of journal to keep. Keeping a particular kind of journal may work best for your issue.
Types of Journals
The most common types of journals used as therapy for mental health include:
Journaling for Better Mental Health
There are numerous benefits to keeping a journal to help with improving your state of mental health.
Some important reasons are:
Expands Your Sense of Well-Being
As you write down your thoughts, you’ll start seeing issues from a new perspective simply because you are opening your mind to think about it. This will make you feel more capable of handling different situations to achieve a greater sense of contentment.
Allowing your creative side to expand can make a big difference in your daily well-being.
Boosts Your Mood
Journaling has been shown to have significant effects on your mood. By extensively using a gratitude journal to remember and appreciate the good parts of your life, you will be gaining a more positive outlook.
Improves Your Memory
Writing your thoughts down helps you catalog them. You can then go back to read and re-read anytime. The simple act of writing your thoughts and feelings down enables you to recall them.
Reduces Symptoms of Depression
While journaling has been shown to be effective in managing depression, it does not replace the need of professional counseling when the symptoms are severe. Journaling will keep you in a more positive mindset, allowing you the chance to release your negative emotions.
I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.
– Anne Frank
Improves Sleep Habits
Pouring your heart out into a journal is a great way to get things off your chest. By writing down what you’re thankful for at the end of your day allows you to drift to sleep thinking of those gratitudes, instead of worries.
Makes You a Kinder Person
While you work through what makes you who you are, you can begin to explore your own emotional state and become more accepting of your own feelings. Journaling is going to make you naturally more empathetic to others by letting go of judgment.
Check out my recent article for ways to become a kinder person.
Manages Stress Levels
Stress will grow into anxiety and depression if not addressed. Journaling allows you to release tensions and fully explore your emotions while working towards specific goals. It offers a great opportunity to recover from your daily stressors by leaving them behind you.
Lowers Avoidance Behaviors
Many people who have mental health issues practice avoidance behaviors such as not going to places that cause them anxiety. The key to overcoming avoidance behaviors is to slowly face what you are avoiding until it no longer has a grip on you. Doing so is far easier said than done, but with continual journaling you will be able to get your feelings out to face them.
Anxiousness helps us get away from immediate danger. It triggers the “fight or flight” response. If each time you have that anxious feeling you choose to write in your journal how you are feeling and why you have those anxious feelings, you’ll start to control it better.
You never need to start with a blank page. Give these 99 free personal development journal prompts a try. Or, learn exactly how to journal to release anxiety by checking out my new Journaling for Anxiety Bundle.
How Often and When to Journal
Since journaling is a personal exercise and individual to everyone, there is no definitive answer. The more you do it, the more it will become a habit. You may find you prefer writing at the same time each day, or maybe it’s something you set aside quiet time for on a weekly basis. Whenever it is that you decide to journal, make sure to write when the mood strikes. It will be much more beneficial if it isn’t forced.
It can be difficult to figure out how to get started journaling to improve your mental health, but it really is an effective way to work through your issues.