The Benefits of Journaling

  • Time to read: 5 min.

The ability to sift through the jumble of what is going through our minds and make sense of things is an essential part of ongoing mental health. 

Sometimes emotions are too big for words, and problems can seem insurmountable.

When the things we are processing internally are more than we feel comfortable speaking out loud, we need help making the connections between what we feel/think and how we behave.

The benefits of journaling includes effectively identifying and managing our emotions which improves our overall physical and mental wellbeing.

Emotions And Journaling

Journaling helps release pent up emotions and ground us in a way that makes space for a more positive frame of mind. It can help us express powerful feelings, such as those connected to trauma, and assist in processing difficult events before we are ready to voice them out loud. 

Journaling can help us explore and identify our emotions, even giving us a space to express thoughts and feelings that a writer might otherwise feel is taboo.

Once examined, journaling can help us healthily sort through our thoughts and feeling, ultimately reducing stress and tension. When we express our thoughts and feelings via writing or speaking, we begin to understand and manage our emotions and feel less dominated by them.

Journaling And Depression

For those with mild depression, journaling is a useful symptom management tool. 

Expressing ourselves can reduce unexpressed emotions and buffer negative thoughts with a more positive mind frame. A positive frame of mind leads to an improved sense of wellbeing. 

Journaling complements professional guidance for moderate to severe depression and can reduce the impact of intrusive thoughts on depressive symptoms, ultimately reducing symptoms overall.

Other benefits of journaling include: grounding yourself, releasing negative emotions, increasing a positive mindset, and creating a margin between negativity and wellbeing.

Anxiety And Self Awareness Through Journaling

If you experience anxiety, you can benefit from journaling as a tool to become more self-aware, and writing will help you identify triggers more easily. Writing can break through the anxiety and enable you to get to the root cause by revealing patterns we might not otherwise see and decreasing negative self-talk. 

A journal is also a concrete visualization of progress made throughout treatment, reinforcing the benefits of continuing. There is a calming influence journaling provides that helps us clear our minds. Then we can let go of negative thoughts and can decrease associated physical symptoms. 

Journaling Is Helpful To Deal With Stress

High stress messes with our cognitive functioning and immune system if not dealt with for a long time; so if we can reduce the stress, we can even improve our cognitive functioning while increasing our immune response. Symptoms of stress, lowering blood pressure and alleviating sleep disruption are possible when writing regularly.

Writing everything out can help us shift our perspectives and move from dwelling on problems to promoting active solutions. We can better cope with general stress by journaling, which gives space and room internally to consider all our available options for specific situations while planning a way forward more confidently.

How To Journal

There are no set rules about journaling, and I like that there are no rules. Your process in journaling is your process.  There are no right or wrong ways.

However, you may still wonder how others write, what they say or do. Here are some helpful tips to help you Journal.

Tips to Help You Journal

  • Try to write in a space that is private and free of distractions.  I always feared someone finding my writing and judging me.  I write digitally and password-protect what I write so that I feel safe.
  • Give yourself time to write, and then to reflect and process what you have written.  Consider this a time where you can be mindful of situations in life around you and what is going on inside you.
  • Make it a goal to write regularly, preferably daily.  No pressure, though.  Start with writing for 5 minutes and increase as you feel comfortable.
  • Know that it is ok to stop mid-sentence or to start and stop throughout the day. When you express how you feel, and if you are new to the process, it can be tiring.  So go slow and take your time. 
  • Explore writing at different times of day to determine what works best for you. For some, that will be morning. For others, evening.
  • Keep it easy and accessible. Keep paper and pen handy, or a digital file on your phone or computer. Go with what will help you set up a healthy routine of journaling.
  • Write what feels right. A journal is your structure as you see fit.  You do not have to share your journal with anyone, although you may choose to share your experience with a therapist.
  • If you aren’t sure how to start, perhaps begin with a few deep relaxing breaths and a favourite cup of tea by your side. 
  • Journaling is part of self-care, so permit yourself to take this time. You can write about whatever you wish to, in any format. 
  • Maybe you will find it is most helpful to write your stream of consciousness, or perhaps you want to log your emotions or talk about a relationship or an event.
  • Over time you might see patterns or influences that are repetitive and can trigger negative emotions; understanding these better will help you manage them and create more space for positive emotions.
  • Consistent investment in the practice of journaling can help improve your mental health by managing negative emotions. 
  • The positives of journaling include reducing depression, anxiety, stress and identifying unhealthy patterns and triggers. 
  • Carving out this dedicated time for yourself can immediately help you de-stress and unwind while you wait for the long-range benefits.  There is no doubt that journaling is good for the mind and body. 

Final Thoughts

I like to write at different times of the day, depending on how I feel. 

I check in with how my body feels, take note of the thoughts occurring.  I know that if I cannot refocus my thoughts within 5 minutes, I need to take action. 

Writing is one of the tools I turn to, which helps me most times.  I consider myself a puzzle and explore while I write. Consider yourself a puzzle and journal to bring the pieces together.

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