Journaling is the act of keeping a written record of our thoughts and feelings. I’ve kept a journal since I was 5 or 6. It was my introduction to writing. Back then, I wrote about things like being on punishment and not being able to go outside or how I was cleaning my room with my older sister and accidentally cut myself with a piece of glass. Around middle school, my journal entries began to shift from lighthearted to heavy and dark. I journaled about being bullied, how horrible things were in my household, and how depressed and alone I felt. My journal became my best friend and confidant. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a tall pile of journals from various time periods of my life. Journaling has drastically improved my mental health. It has allowed me to divulge my innermost thoughts and to also work through them. There was a period in my life where I stopped writing completely and while I vaguely remember it, I recall being miserable during this time. This was years ago and I currently write in my journal every day.
When it comes to our mental health, there are many benefits to journaling. Some of these include:
- Helps manage anxiety and reduce stress
- Helps cope with depression
- Gives you a safe space to express yourself
- Can help you identify and track triggers
- Gain clarity on thoughts and feelings and situations that have occurred
- Improves overall mood
There’s something healing about writing everything down. While I’ve always been a writer, I understand it’s not as easy for others. Some people struggle with putting their thoughts onto paper.
If you’re wanting to reap some of the benefits of a journaling practice, here are a few tips:
- Write daily. Even if it’s only for 5 minutes. Schedule a time of day that works best for you and use that time to journal.
- Use journal prompts. Journal prompts are great for beginners. There are tons of prompts online as well as journals you can purchase that are filled with prompts. Utilizing prompts can make starting a journaling habit much easier. Journal prompts also come in handy when you have writer’s block or are at a loss for words.
- Write whatever comes to mind. Don’t feel pressured to try and perfect your writing or feel the need to refrain from writing down certain things. Remember, your journal is your safe space.
- Know that you don’t have to use paper. While I prefer the paper and pen method, some people like to use a journaling app or use their computer for journaling. What’s most important is finding what works for you.
- Make your journal personal. Buying a new journal can be fun and meaningful. Maybe you want to keep it simple with a composition notebook or maybe you’d like something that has personality. It’s up to you to decide what you’ll feel most comfortable writing in every day. Get something that makes you look forward to writing.
- Set up your space. You can make journaling pleasurable by setting up your environment. This could look like making a cup of hot tea or coffee, lighting a candle or some incense, and playing soft music. Allow yourself to indulge in the moment by creating a sacred space.
- Ask yourself what you would like to get out of journaling. Are you trying to live a more peaceful life? Are you wanting to let go of anger or manage stress and anxiety? Take time to ponder on what you’re hoping to gain or let go of through journaling.
The best way to create a journaling habit is to just start writing. Grant yourself permission to use journaling to heal and improve your mental health.