Journaling For Mental Health
Journaling is such a simple, yet powerful tool to help you deal with anxiety, stress and keeping your mental health in a positive place. It’s a private and safe zone to express and process your thoughts, feelings and emotions as well as helping you to monitor and improve your habits and behaviours.
Consistently writing in your journal can provide you with a range of benefits, including (but not limited to!) –
- Reducing stress and anxiety – By letting your anxieties out on to paper, they are less likely to make themselves at home in your head, fester away at you and build up.
- Regulates emotion – Research has shown when you write expressively, there is reduced activity in the amygdala – which is the part of the brain that controls the intensity of emotions. Writing can be used to calm yourself down and regain control over your emotions when you are feeling particularly anxious, angry, upset or stressed.
- Develops emotional intelligence – Journaling can help develop your empathy towards others and being able to identify with someone else is a sign of high emotional intelligence.
- Improves communication with others – as you learn about yourself and express yourself through writing, you’ll find it easier to express yourself with others too.
- Strengthens Self-Discipline – simply setting aside each day to write and doing it is an act of self-discipline. You’ll find this can spill over to other areas of your life too as the more you exercise discipline, the stronger it becomes, and you find habits are easier to form.
- Improves your overall wellbeing – By journaling regularly and consistently, you are facilitating moving towards physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing. You become more in tune with your feelings and thoughts, becoming more understanding of yourself.
- Helps you sleep better – Writing when you go to bed helps to clear your mind, in turn helping you to relax and aid sleep.
- Increases clarity and productivity – Writing clears your mind and gives you space to think, providing you with more clarity, from there you can take action and become more productive.
- Helps heal past trauma – Journaling about a past upset, hurt or trauma can help you process the event, detach yourself from it, help you view it from a different perspective, understand why you are hurting and help you gain an understanding to start a process of healing, to work through it, accept it or let it go.
- Enhances personal empowerment – The more you take control of your experiences, thoughts, and feelings, the more empowered you feel. Being honest with yourself about experiences that hurt, upset, or confused you really helps you to come to grips with it, you will discover new things about yourself and THAT is personal empowerment.
- Boosts positive mental wellbeing – Journaling about all the good things in your life, such as keeping a gratitude journal, helps increase feelings of joy and positivity which boost your mood.
Being honest when you write in your journal, opens you up to raising your self-awareness and you can learn so much about yourself. This puts you in a great position to start taking responsibility for your thoughts and actions, taking back control of any negative thoughts and emotions that you have.
How to start journaling –
Grab a pen and paper! There is no right or wrong way to journal, just your way. Pick up a pen and start writing with whatever comes to mind. Where possible, handwrite your journal as it builds a stronger connection between your brain and hand, helping you to process what you are writing as you go.
Be consistent You don’t have to journal for hours every day, consistency is the important bit and make it a regular habit, even if just for 5 minutes a day. Try linking it with a habit you already have established, such as a few minutes writing with your morning cuppa. Find what works for you and stick to that. Don’t worry about when or how other people journal.
Date, time and add your location to each entry. This helps you to reflect over your writing and monitor your progress with goals and your mood. It also helps you to notice any patterns or themes in your life that need attention or that explain your moods and behaviours. With this information, you can spot any triggers and take action to change or remove them.
Choose your surroundings. Make sure you are somewhere comfortable, feel safe and won’t be disturbed whilst you’re writing. You don’t want to interrupt your train of thought when writing as you never know where that will take you. You may miss a piece of important information if your focus is broken.
Reflect on your writing. Take time to read over your writing. Whilst writing alone is great to release your thoughts, relieve stress and achieve goals, the change and magic happens in the reflection and learning about yourself. Give yourself written feedback – what do you notice?
Be honest and kind. Leave any judgements, bias, criticism or overthinking out of your writing and be honest with yourself. Just write exactly how it is, honesty will give you the most insights and learning about yourself.
Ditch perfection! No one is going to read your journal but you, it’s not an English essay so don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, neat handwriting, or anything else – just let your thoughts flow in their raw, glorious form as they come.
Enjoy it! Don’t just write about the negatives, include all the positives! The highs and the lows, anything and everything.
Claire is an experienced and qualified Life Coach and Journal Therapist. Following years of depression, she created the person she wanted to be through being coached and journaling.
She combines the power of coaching with the power of journaling to support women on a life changing journey of self-learning and self-awareness. Knowledge is power and learning about yourself, warts and all, is so vital to personal growth, confidence and high self-esteem. True empowerment comes from within!
Claire works with women in a variety of ways, including one-to-one, running group guided journal workshops and two journal support memberships, one for personal life and one for business life.
Originally from Southampton, Claire currently lives in the Midlands with her husband, sons and crazy Spanish rescue dog. Fun fact – Claire is a qualified FA football coach and is Chairperson for a local football club, helping them to run nearly 40 teams. She is particularly passionate about encouraging and growing girls and women’s football!
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