During your teenage days, I believe most of you had a diary hidden somewhere behind the cupboard. It was your personal space where you openly shared your thoughts, fears and challenges, and confessed your secret crushes or heartbreaks.
Writing a diary allowed you to get your mind off things and bring out all the unshared thoughts and feelings on the paper. It gave you peace. It gave you closure.
Although the concept persists, along with added benefits, it’s known by a different term – journaling.
What is Journaling?
Journaling is a tool that helps individuals organise their thoughts and feelings and gain control over their minds. By journaling what’s in your head and mind, you can better understand situations you are struggling with and gain control. It further helps to:
- Channel personal emotions and experiences
- Encourage positive thinking
- Build a connection with oneself
- Cope with depression
- Increase focus and creativity
- Set goals for personal growth
- Develop stronger writing, learning, and problem-solving skills.
Journaling for Mental Health
Penning your heart out can clear your impaired vision and help you resolve issues and disagreements more effectively. Having a journal allows you to:
- Contemplate things and letting go of harmful emotions
- Prioritise your weaknesses, challenges, and fears
- Recognise and track stressors and find ways to control them
- Practice positive self-talk to beat negative emotions
- Overcome overpowering thoughts and refocus
- Get insight into behavioural and thought patterns.
How to Write a Mental Health Journal
- Pick the Journaling Format
Before you start with journaling, choose a format that you find convenient. For example, if you enjoy writing by hand and want to incorporate art, select a print journal. If not, a digital journal would be a wiser option. Like many other tools like a factoring calculator and topic generator, there are journaling apps that you can use to enhance your journaling experience.
- Schedule Time for Writing
Set a time for writing your journal if you genuinely want to boost your mental health using this tool. You have to be regular with your writing, just like your study/work schedule. And the best way to do it is to keep aside some time for writing. For instance, you can write during your recess or before going to sleep.
- Just Start with It
It’s okay if you cannot find the perfect words to explain your emotions on the first go. You can start with sentences like “I don’t know how to do this” or “This is a stupid idea.” No matter how random the lines may be, remember, your goal is not to be perfect but to freely uncover your feelings and thoughts.
- Be Brutally Honest
It isn’t easy to put your thoughts into words, and that’s completely okay. So don’t worry about where to start, how to streamline your thoughts, or what structure to follow – just write whatever you want to.
If something bothers you that happened two years ago, write why it has left a scar on your heart and why it still bothers you. Also, write down how things didn’t work out the way you wanted it and who all left you disappointed or feeling betrayed.
Even if you cry while writing about it, don’t stop. Writing about everything that went wrong can help release negative emotions like jealousy, frustration, anger, and sadness and gradually bring positive changes to your mood, thoughts, and behaviour.
- Make It a Regular Thing
Once you get into journaling regularly, you will notice a positive change in your thoughts and emotions. It will help you keep a record of how you feel can help you identify the stressors and determine what truly makes you happy.
Date your entries to reflect on them later and understand your moods and feelings for a particular incident. Then, after you finish, read through your previous entries and analyse the entire situation from a fresh perspective. This way, you can process your feelings and reframe your thoughts to handle the situation differently.
- Keep It Private
It’s completely okay to keep your thoughts and feelings private. So, find a quiet corner at your home, where you can be alone with your thoughts and your journal. Play your favourite Beatles track, tuck yourself in a cosy blanket, and enjoy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate while scribbling your thoughts.
- Set Goals & Track Progress
A journal can be a perfect tool to take a deeper look into your life, set targets, and track your progress. For instance, if your goal is to become healthy, you can schedule time for exercise. Then, monitor the duration of the sessions, how often you do it, and how you benefit.
- Record Positive Attributes
When trying to overcome stressors and boost mental wellness, it’s important to note all the symptoms you experience daily. For example, whenever you feel negative thoughts engulf your mind, write something focusing on your strength.
Also, note the symptoms and their effect on your mood on a scale of 1 to 5 so that you can take the necessary steps to improve.
Know When to Get Professional Help
Most of the time, journaling can help you deal with complex emotions and improve your positive thinking abilities. But there are times when writing isn’t enough. Your feelings suffocate you, and you want to vent out. Take this as a sign for expert help. Reach out to your loved ones for resolving the issue. Or else, connect with a therapist to understand the ways of your mind.
Arslan Shah has a Master’s degree in psychology and is a certified therapist based in Australia. She is a popular counsellor in town for her caring yet professional personality. Jenny is also a subject matter expert at Assignment help, where students sign up for educational aid and free tools such as a factoring calculator, essay rewriter, citation maker, to name a few.