How A Mental Health Journal Can Help You Regain Control Of Your Life
Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes, the days feel extra long and tiring. Other days, it feels almost impossible to do anything at all. If you’re struggling with your mental health, keeping a journal could help. Several studies have found that journaling offers numerous health benefits. The simple act of expressing your thoughts and feelings through writing can strengthen both your physical and mental wellness.
Despite these benefits, many dismiss journaling as a practice only acceptable for young girls. It turns out little girls who regularly write about their feelings in their diaries are actually on to something. So are the various presidents, artists, and other famous figures throughout history who kept journals. If you’re struggling mentally, journaling can be extremely therapeutic.
In this article, we’ll explore the surprising benefits of journaling, different types of journals, and tips to get you started on your own mental health journal.
What Are The Benefits Of Journaling On Mental Health?
Writing down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences comes with many surprising health benefits. Here are a few physical and mental advantages of journaling.
It’s essential to express your emotions in order to let them go. Journaling provides a safe outlet for people to release their thoughts and feelings. Writing out the day’s events can help you process any difficult feelings that may arise throughout the day.
It could also prevent your negative thoughts from spiraling out of control. Research shows that journaling regularly reduces symptoms of anxiety. Those who journal often experience fewer symptoms of depression as well.
“Through writing out the moments that cause you emotional distress, you’ll be able to better identify your emotional triggers. This allows you greater control over your emotions and improves your self-awareness,” explains Arthur Griswold, a health blogger at Buy Essay.
Stay Fit Mentally
The same study on the correlation between journaling and anxiety found that those who journal demonstrate an increase in resilience against life’s challenges. Similar studies show that expressing your feelings regularly through journaling enables you to handle stress better than those who bottle up their difficult emotions.
In addition to journaling’s ability to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, it can also increase your self-efficacy. Belief in yourself and your capacity to handle whatever obstacles life throws your way is the foundation of mental strength. Journaling might just help you unlock this.
Boost Physical Health
Journaling contributes to your physical health as well. Some researchers have found that the act of journaling can actually strengthen your immune cells or T-lymphocytes. Others discovered that those who journal regularly experience lower symptoms of health conditions such as asthma and arthritis. Writing out the things that happen to you can help you cope better with life’s mental as well as physical stressors.
Types Of Journal Formats
There are plenty of different journal formats out there, but here is a couple that could help with your mental health.
A daily log is probably what comes to mind for most when they think of journaling. This is the type that follows a “Dear diary,” structure. For some people, recording the day’s events allows them to keep a track history of their life, but for others, a daily log allows them to process difficult days. By writing out your experiences and feelings about your day, you can let go of what’s happened and make room for a better day tomorrow.
This is the style of journaling that feels most intuitive to most people. You simply start writing everything that comes to mind with the intention to release those thoughts. Some people recommend ripping up the page or shredding it afterward. The act of tearing the page provides a powerful cathartic experience for a lot of people. It also reinforces the notion of journaling as a safe outlet to be completely honest with yourself.
In the same way that the benefits of journaling have been endlessly studied by researchers, so have the benefits of gratitude. Countless studies have found that those who take the time to express gratitude tend to be happier overall. Recent studies have found that gratitude is the antidote to many negative emotions. Its long-lasting positive impact on the brain suggests that everyone should be practicing gratitude daily.
To start a gratitude journal for your mental health, simply write down at least one thing you’re grateful for today. The more things you can name, the better.
Tips On How To Keep A Mental Health Journal
If journaling feels unnatural to you in the beginning, it can be tough to stick to it. Here are a few tips to help you keep a mental health journal.
Make A Habit Out Of It
To see the benefits of journaling, you have to remain consistent. It’s best to try to make a habit out of journaling by doing it at the same time every single day. You can choose a time that’s most convenient for you so you’ll be more likely to remember to journal. A good strategy is to keep your journal somewhere visible like on your bedside table.
If you have a busy schedule or don’t know where to start, you could always try using a timer while you journal. Set a time for 5 minutes every single day to write down whatever thoughts and feelings come to mind. Setting out as little 5 minutes a day to journal is highly doable for most people.
Use Journal Prompts
If you’re struggling with a freeform style of journaling, consider using prompts. Prompts are a great way to process a specific event or feeling. Many prompts also increase self-awareness by encouraging you to explore topics you might have been purposely burying in your subconscious.
Some prompts to help you get started are:
- Write a love letter to yourself.
- What was the best part of my day? What was the worst part?
- What brings me the most joy in life? What steps do I need to take to incorporate more of it into my daily routine?
- What is one short-term goal I want to work on? What is one long-term goal?
- What advice would I give to my younger self?
Journaling is one the most beneficial and cathartic practices available to anyone, especially those struggling with their mental health. If you’re hoping to start your own mental health journal, remember to approach it from a judgment-free place. You are not your worst thoughts and feelings. Your journal should provide a safe space for you to express yourself no matter what. Those written words are only for you, and for you alone.