Since there is such a stereotype surrounding journaling I wanted to share the positives with those of you who have considered starting one.
More often than not, when you mention ''journaling'' to someone, the first thoughts that spring to mind are angst ridden teenagers, hunched under their bed sheets writing about their crushes that ''don't know they exist'' in a frilly pink diary with a padlock on the cover. Though this is a humorous stereotype, it's also a widely accepted one perpetuated by the media and for this reason many people give journaling a wide berth for fear of appearing immature if they decide to keep their own. Journaling is not something to be embarrassed by and it can offer many benefits to an individuals life, especially if suffering from a mental illness.
For a while now, I have considered keeping my own journal to document my own mental state and to see if through journaling I can improve my well being. Below are some reasons journaling may be able to assist you in your steps to recovery or to finding out more about why you think and feel the way you do.
Please note that I am not a mental health professional, I speak purely from my own experiences and if you feel you are at a crisis point please contact professional services immediately.
Supplement to Therapy
Therapy is a challenging and very often a mentally exhausting experience that offers an individual the chance to talk through their thoughts and feelings with a certified professional which is of course a great recovery tool for many people. However, the down side to therapy is that you have set appointments and sometimes by the time your session arrives you completely forget to bring up something that you wanted to discuss.
By keeping a journal you can easily trace your mood patterns since your last session and see where there have been improvements or deterioration's in your emotional and mental state. This can also help your therapist to assist you with setting realistic goals for the future and highlight the areas you can work on more.
Tip: When you are journaling and come across things you want to bring up at your next session, simply highlight the chosen topics with the same colour and use a key at the beginning of your journal to keep track of what each colour means.
See How Far You've Come
It's hard to see progress in yourself from a day to day basis, much like it's hard to see growth in a child until you don't see them for a long period of time, but through keeping a journal you can physically see how far you have come from your early entries to the point you are at currently. This is a great positive and motivational tool that should be able to help you to continue on with your journey to recovery.
When things get really tough in life and you're finding it difficult to cope, writing down your thoughts and feelings into your journal can offer a much needed release. It is a completely healthy and harmless way to get your feelings out and in the end things may become a little clearer and you will feel better for it.
Remember, your journal can be completely private if you want it to be so whatever you write down is for your eyes only.
Triggers are something we shouldn't take lightly and by keeping a journal is becomes more obvious to us what our individual triggers are. Keeping track of your moods and experiences can help you become more self aware to the kinds of things that will have a negative impact on your mental health. This way you can learn to avoid these things, or begin to gently expose yourself to them as part of your recovery.
Your journal is something that belongs completely to you and no one can tell you that you are doing it wrong so go wild and decorate it till your hearts content or keep it minimalist if that is more your style. It's down to what works best for you and writing your aspirations as well as keeping track of your moods is a great way to keep thinking positively.
Tip: Try to write one positive thing about each day, even something small and simple that made you smile.
I hope that this article has offered you some insight into how journaling could benefit your mental health and well being and that after reading this you consider starting your own. Whether you already keep or not, I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 BunnyClaws
Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on January 15, 2018:
I have written in a journal for many years now in a variety of ways, from doing pages of art on the computer, to writing lists, and keeping track of moods. It has been a great help to me in figuring out what triggers my anxiety and depression, as well as those things that affect me in positive ways. I highly recommend it!