How To Journal For Mental Health

FEATURED
February 25, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life
11 MIN READ

Top points

  • Written words can help you process your emotions and recreate a healthy connection with yourself.
  • Journaling gives you a safe space to explore your inner thoughts and helps you organize your mind so you can focus on your goals.
  • Building a journaling practice deepens your self-understanding and supports positive change.

The great novelist Margaret Atwood once said, “A word after a word after a word is power.” For those of us struggling with our mental health, written words can carry power inward and help us process our emotions and recreate a healthy connection with ourselves. Journaling for mental health is a great way to do just that.

When our mental wellbeing is a constant struggle, we need to find ways to gain the upper hand and experience the healing we need and deserve. For many people, putting a pen to paper plays an important role in maintaining that advantage.

So today, let’s talk about the importance of journaling as it relates to mental health. Among other things, the habit of journaling is a powerful tool that can help you get in touch with yourself to help prepare you for obstacles to come.

Does Journaling Help Improve Mental Health?

Journaling can work wonders on your mental wellbeing. By taking time to take stock of how you’re doing, you give yourself every opportunity to process your emotions in a healthy way so they do not control your thoughts or behavior, such as obsessing on a particular story or person online, or excessive food or alcohol consumption.

What Are the Benefits of Journaling?

Journaling doesn’t just help you in an abstract way. There are real reasons why this practice can make a meaningful difference in your life. Here are some specific ways that keeping a mental health journal could benefit you.

Setting and Achieving Goals

One of the greatest benefits of journaling is that it gives you a chance to dream. Through journaling you can come up with a goal for yourself and then keep track of your progress as you watch yourself achieve what you set out to do.

Your goals could be related to your career, to a hobby, or your mental health. Setting goals and looking hopefully toward the future can greatly benefit your mental health. It sparks hope and motivation.

Better Organization

Keeping a journal can also help you to stay organized. Often, people who struggle with anxiety, depression, or another mental illness have trouble keeping everything organized.

Journaling every day is a chance to remind yourself about what’s going on in your life. It can help you keep your calendar straight and help motivate you to keep your home tidy, but it can also help you to organize your thoughts.

The process of journaling sifts through your thoughts and emotions, helping you to sort through your thoughts, focusing on the positive and working through the negative.

Improved Communication Skills

Journaling can also help to improve your communication. Being able to articulate your thoughts to a loved one or a therapist is an important skill for working through mental health issues.

Keeping a diary or journal can help you practice putting your feelings to words. There are journal prompts that can help you with this important skill, but just writing in a conversational style can also help bolster your mental health vocabulary.

Visualizing Your Progress

One of the most important benefits to journaling is being able to keep track of how you’re doing. In your entries, take time to look at what practices are working for you and why. Go into detail about the good things you’re doing and the forward progress you’ve made.

It also gives you a chance to tell yourself what you still need to work on. Be honest about your shortcomings and brainstorm solutions. Keep track of your symptoms. Evaluate your situation, encourage yourself, and spur yourself forward into further progress based on honest reflections.

Finding and Acting On Inspiration

Putting pen to paper is a great way to get yourself inspired. In adverse mental health conditions, it can be difficult to get vision for your life or get motivated. But taking stock of your day and reminding yourself of the good things that happened can spark that inspiration.

Journaling has a way of revealing the headway you’ve been making. And it can drive you to continue forward with that momentum. Without articulating it regularly, it can sometimes be difficult to see your progress. Journaling is a great way to get inspiration from yourself.

Reduced Feelings of Tension

For many people struggling with mental health, keeping emotions bottled up can create major feelings of tension. Sometimes it can feel as though your anxieties are welling up so much that you might just burst.

Keeping a record of your emotions can reduce this pressure. By letting it all out in a controlled setting that is free of judgment, you can begin to process your mood and feelings in a healthy way and work to reduce your stress.

Supports Memory

There is something about using a pen or pencil to write things out that just solidifies them in our memory more than normal. More than typing or speaking, writing helps us to remember.

By writing down the progress we’ve made, encouragement to ourselves, and further direction going forward, we can use our journal as a tool to remember how well we’re doing. Supporting our memory can bolster our hope, our memories, and our mindset.

Cope with Struggles

All of these things work together to make journaling an effective way to cope with our struggles. At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing that we can gain from journaling: a healthy way to process our emotions and grapple with what lies in front of us.

How Do I Start Journaling for Mental Health?

If you want to begin journaling and taking control of your mental health, you should absolutely do it! But doing it haphazardly or inconsistently won’t necessarily give you the maximum benefit. So let’s walk through some tactics and tips about journaling that can help you gain the most from this practice.

Set Reminders

One of the most important aspects of journaling is consistency. Stressful events happen all the time, and we need to make space in our day to day to process them.

To make your journaling into a routine, it’s a good practice to set a reminder on your phone to do it at the same time every day. Turning journaling into a habit is the way to go.

Aim To Journal for 10 Minutes Each Day

Your journaling doesn’t have to take long. One quick page of expressive writing done in ten minutes can make a world of difference. It’s plenty of time to get out your negative emotions but not enough time to obsess over them and let them become the center of your day.

Keep Your Journal Close By

It’s a good journaling practice to keep your journal on hand. Keep it in your backpack, or get a small one to keep in your purse or back pocket. This way, if anything comes up that you need to journal about, you can do so right then and there.

Journal About Whatever Comes Naturally

You don’t need to write about new topics every single day. The best journaling is true self-expression. Whatever that looks like is okay. Writing in a stream of consciousness style can give you insight into how well you’re doing or where your mood is at.

Maybe you write about some stressors at work, or maybe about a poignant dream you had. Maybe you express some emotions about an event that happened years ago. Or you could just talk about your plans for the day. The point is to become more self-aware, so your genuine expressions are the best way to go.

Use Online Prompts for More Structure

If you’re having trouble finding something to write about, or you just like to have consistency or a plan, journal writing from a prompt can be a great method for you. For many people, a framework can foster creativity, self-reflection, and rumination better than a more free flowing style.

Do what works best for you and your personality. The point of it is to help you gain a positive new perspective about your mental health, so journal however you can help yourself the best, writing prompts or not.

Journal As You Please

Finally, journal as you please. This form of self-care should be exactly that: caring for yourself. If journaling starts to negatively affect your mindset or wellbeing and sends you the wrong way, don’t do it. If you find yourself getting stuck in a loop of negative thoughts and journaling is no longer enjoyable, take a break for a while.

It’s not a fix-all solution, and it’s not a replacement for medical treatment of mental illness. Rather, it’s a helpful tool that can assist you in self-reflection and emotional awareness.

Is It Difficult To Make Journaling a New Habit?

Forming a new habit can be very difficult for some people, especially if you’re struggling with a mental illness like depression. But it is not impossible! The challenges you face are ones that you can overcome.

If you struggle with forming new habits, it’s important to start small. Set achievable, realistic expectations for yourself. Getting too ambitious and then not meeting your goals can be disappointing and set you back.

So maybe start with journaling once a week, then move up to three times, and then five. Slowly incorporating journaling into your life tends to be more effective than going from zero to 100 in no time flat.

How Long Does it Take for Journaling To Make a Difference?

]In all likelihood, you won’t see a difference in your mental health after your first journal entry. Self-awareness doesn’t happen overnight, and true self-reflection takes time.

But the slow amalgamation of positive affirmations and working through different emotions and trauma can definitely work to help restore part of what’s been lost

How Can I Get Past a Journaling Block?

Everybody hits a journaling block every once in a while. Sometimes it feels like you’ve said all that can be said, or maybe you don’t even know where to begin.

In that instance, maybe taking a break for a few days could help. Get outside and write about nature. Watch a movie and write about how it makes you feel. And again, writing prompts are very helpful in getting your mind working.

Are There Different Methods of Journaling?

There are lots of different types of journals out there. It’s important to find the one that works for you. Let’s look at a few options so you can choose the method that best fits your personality and mental health situation.

Gratitude Journal

One method is a gratitude journal. If you want to focus your attention on the positive aspects of your life, this is a great way to go.

Simply write down things you’re grateful for. Talk about the blessings in your life. But don’t be surface level. Really dive into why you’re grateful for them. This will help to put your mind in a positive state and help you focus on happy things.

Bullet Journal

A bullet journal is an all-encompassing type of journal. It helps with organization of your life. It’s for things like calendars, to do lists, appointments, write notes, and more.

But it is also helpful for keeping track of your symptoms and setting and tracking your goals. If you need help keeping your life straight, this is a great tool.

Writing Prompt Journal

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you want to journal but don’t know where to start, buying a writing prompt journal can help you get going. It contains inspiring prompts to help spur creativity and introspection.

Free Space

A free space journal is for absolutely whatever you want. It’s a safe space for you to transcribe the full expression of your mind. Write about your day, or maybe make a quick sketch of a beautiful view. Write some lyrics to a song or a poem. It’s a space free of judgment for you to get in touch with every corner of your mind and heart.

The Bottom Line

Journaling is a very useful tool. It can help you wrestle with your inner thoughts. It can focus your mind on the positive side of life. It can organize your scattered mind. Creating a journaling habit and practice can create more opportunities for inner connection and change.

Treatment at Nue Life

If you’re searching for effective, holistic mental health treatment, explore our programs. Nue Life’s one-month and four-month treatment programs include fast-acting ketamine therapy, one-on-one health coaching, and virtual integration groups to provide you with unparalleled tools for creating emotional awareness and lasting change.

SOURCES

20 Inspirational Quotes for Writing Motivation | TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages)

Finding Wellness One Word at a Time | The Center For Mental Health

Journaling for Mental Health | Health Encyclopedia | University of Rochester Medical Center

What can keeping a journal do for my mental health? | Mental Health America Screening

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