The Power of Journaling

The Power of Journaling

Dr. Leslie
Author
Dr. Leslie
Author

Dr. Leslie Waltke

49 days ago at 4:29 PM

Journaling is a versatile tool for reducing stress, managing mental health, and fostering personal growth, offering benefits such as stress reduction, goal tracking, and improved self-confidence. It can be easily incorporated into daily life, requiring minimal resources, and can help individuals navigate challenges, enhance emotional well-being, and cultivate resilience.

Journaling has long been recognized as an effective way to reduce stress, help with depression and anxiety, focus your mind, and organize your life. It can be a great tool to use for meditation, to open up, and let go of anxious thoughts that bother you, in a healthy way.

One of the best parts of journaling is that it’s something you can do at home, when it’s convenient for you, without needing a lot of time, resources, or skill. There’s more to keeping a journal than just getting your thoughts down on paper, though.

Research shows that a daily journaling practice can help improve your mental health and get your life back on track, whether you’re struggling with relationships, future goals, or how to stay organized. Expressive writing and gratitude journaling can even affect the way you communicate with a partner, your children, your coworkers, your friends, your parents, or anyone in your life.

Read on to learn more about what science says regarding the positive effects of journaling for better mental health.

What Does Journaling Do for Your Mental Health?

Expressing yourself creatively, like when you write in a journal, is great for relieving stress and focusing on the things in life that aren’t serving you. You can use a journal to develop or practice healthy habits, set and work toward goals, or manage your mental health and improve anxiety, reduce stress, or regulate a depressive disorder. Even gratitude journaling for just a few minutes a day can make a world of difference to your mental wellbeing.

Common benefits of journaling There are many reasons why people commit to a journaling practice. The process of writing is inherently therapeutic. It can help you organize your thoughts, express yourself, and process and deal with your emotions — both good and bad — in a positive, healthy way.

Other benefits of journaling can include:

  • Reducing stress
  • Identifying and tracking goals
  • Achieving those goals
  • Tracking problems so you can recognize triggers
  • Finding inspiration
  • Improving self-confidence
  • Overcoming fears
  • Identifying and addressing negative thought patterns and behaviors
  • Starting a habit of using self-talk and creating mantras

Mental health benefits of journaling:

The benefits of journaling go far beyond just motivation and self-improvement. A review of 31 clinical studies on the use of journaling as an intervention determined it can indeed be effective as an adjunct therapy in addition to other evidence-based forms of treatment.

Of the many positives journaling has to offer, topping the list are ease of implementation (with virtually no resources needed) and little-to-no risk of any adverse effects.

How to Start a Mental Health Journal:

Journaling for mental health can be a powerful self-help technique that you can start today. All you need is a notebook or paper, a pen or pencil, and a few minutes. You might try journaling if you feel stressed, are having anxiety, or find that you’re struggling with a problem.

Don’t like to write by hand? No problem. You can even journal on your smartphone in a notes app or in a Google Doc from your computer or laptop. Use whatever method feels comfortable, convenient, and easy. The most important thing to do is just begin.

Need help getting started? Try the following tips.

1. Commit to writing every day. Doing something every day helps it become a habit. Simply set aside time for you to complete your journal. It can be committing to a bullet journal every morning when you first wake up, in the evenings just before bed, or even during your lunch break. Some people find that keeping a dedicated, consistent block of time helps them stay on track. The reality is, though, you can journal any time of the day, and it doesn’t have to be the same from day to day. Use what works best for you.

2. Plan a time, and possibly a place, to journal. You can journal in a comfy chair and side table, sitting up in your bed with pillows behind you, in the bath, sitting on a porch, or anywhere that feels like a peaceful, productive spot for your daily writing exercise. Set a time limit. If you feel like finding the time to journal is going to be stressful, set a goal. Maybe you can only commit to writing 5 or 10 minutes a day in the beginning. That’s fine! Work your way up to 15 or 20 minutes, or longer, as you become more comfortable with the process. Going for a simple bullet journal works best. If being flexible works better for you, make that work. Some people thrive on schedules and formats, but they’re not for everyone. If you don’t need or want a specific place and time to journal, that’s perfectly OK. In that case, don’t tie yourself to the constraints of needing to be in a certain, special place to write in your journal. If you have a busy or unpredictable schedule, be open to fitting in your journaling when and where it works in your life. If this sounds like it’s more your speed, consider using a digital format or note taking app that’s available on your phone, tablet, or computer and will sync across your devices. That way, you can journal whenever and wherever you’re at, when you have the time in your day.

3. Be open to journaling in whatever way makes sense that day. Journals can be artistic, full of words, random brainstorming, bullet-pointed lists, or a combination of all of these. There’s no one-size-fits-all way to journal. If you want to draw one day, write a paragraph the next, and create a to-do-list the following, go for it. Above all, especially in the beginning, don’t worry about what you’re writing. Your goal is to become a habitual writer. Stuck? Write about that. It’s even fine to lament, logging things like I feel like this is so dumb, or I have nothing to write about, or I’m stressed that I should be doing x, y, or z. The longer you journal, the better you’ll become at it. Your journal is your own, unique recipe


1 comment

Last activity by Ashley Yesayan

Anonymous

Ashley
Ashley Yesayan

Great article Dr. Leslie!!

0 Replies

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