How journaling can help your mental health

I guess I first started ‘journaling’ when I was a teenager… Inspired by my mum who kept a daily diary, I started to do the same, but found it soon turned from an account of the things I’d done that day to how the things that had happened that day made me feel.

It was something I continued on and off for most of my 20s and 30s, finding it a good way to offload, vent, celebrate achievements, and feel sorry for myself, all without involving anyone else.  I found it very therapeutic, but didn’t really know why.

It was only when I started my counselling training in my late 30s that I realised how important journaling had become to me, and how beneficial it really was to my mental health. 

​And now I’m hoping to inspire you start writing too.

Benefits include:

  • Helping you to acknowledge your feelings instead of trying to lock them away
  • Helping you to ‘hear’ and connect with your inner voice
  • Helping you look at your issues more objectively
  • Helping to make sense of how you’re feeling
  • Helping you to notice patterns between what effect things can have on your feelings
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Helping you to trust yourself
  • Expressing your thoughts and feelings without offending anyone
  • Helping you get to sleep (if you journal just before you go to bed)
  • Doing something proactive to help your mental health
  • Getting to know yourself better
  • Checking in with yourself on a regular basis
  • It’s a method of self-care
  • It’s private
  • It’s free

Staring at a blank piece of paper (or screen) can feel daunting though, so here are some tips to help you begin:

  • You could start by writing about why you feel daunted or reluctant to start writing!
  • Just start – it doesn’t have to be perfect prose or in your best handwriting, or be anything significant.  It can ramble, go off on tangents, and that’s ok.
  • Write about what you’ve done that day, just like a normal diary, and then write about how those things made you feel.
  • Write a list of things that worry you, or a list of things you are grateful for – and why.
  • Set yourself a time limit – 5 mins, 10 mins, etc.
  • Buy a journal that has prompts in it.

Remember, it’s not a test!  Write as little or as much as you want.
It doesn’t have to go anywhere, it doesn’t have to be full sentences, and it doesn’t need to end of a positive note.

It’s not for everyone, but I invite you to give it a go and see how you get on.  It isn’t a substitute for professional counselling, if that’s what you need, but it can be an invaluable when it comes to processing thoughts and feelings on a regular basis.

Until next time…
Take care,
Becky

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