Journaling has seen a huge resurgence in the past couple of years. With the launch of bullet journaling, journal-based planners and even blogging and social media, more people are turning to journaling to express their creativity. Plus it’s super simple to get started. But one of the biggest trends we’re seeing is journaling for mental health.
So how exactly does journaling improve mental health? What makes writing down your thoughts, experiences and ideas such a powerful way to combat stress, anxiety, depression and so many other mental health issues? Let’s dig in and find out.
What is Journaling?
In its most basic form, journaling is a means of keeping letters or diaries. This was once an ancient tradition that was practiced throughout many lands. In fact, this process and system can be dated back to as late as the tenth century Japan era.
Ancient Japanese travelers kept journals and tracked their thoughts throughout a variety of different situations. Many successful individuals like presidents and high-ranking officials even made it a point to keep these journals.
It’s not a coincidence that many of the people we revere as wise, successful and strong kept journals. Journaling just might be one of the keys behind their ability to withstand all the stressors of everyday life.
Whether you are suffering from stress, anxiety, depression or anything else, there are a variety of benefits of journaling for mental health.
11 Benefits of Journaling for Mental Health
Here are 11 little-known benefits of journaling for mental health:
1. Clear Your Thoughts and Feelings
Do you ever feel like you are just jumbled up inside? In fact, you probably don’t even know what you feel most of the time. Just simply taking a few minutes to jot down these feelings of uncertainty can go a long way to the common cure.
Be sure not to make any edits, because you want the situation to be as natural and authentic as possible. Writing down your thoughts on paper will really help you clear your mind and get a lot off your chest.
2. Get To Know Yourself Better
Do you have a hard time figuring out what makes you happy and content? Well, writing down the times when you’re mentally at your best, will help you recall these certain times.
On the flipside, writing down the times when you are not happy and content might also help point out some obvious triggers. These triggers will be something that you want to stay away from, because they could bring up unwanted attacks of anxiety.
This process is imperative information that you need to know, as it will help you reach deep inside yourself. You will not only get to know yourself better, but in the future you will be able to identify triggers that might set you off.
3. Help Eliminate Stress
Stress has been known throughout history to have major negative effects on the psyche. Stress has not only lead many individuals to developing serious health conditions, but it has led to heart attacks and other onsets. This is why it’s important to live as stress-free of a life as possible.
Sure, this is much easier said than done, but it’s absolutely possible? First and foremost, journaling for mental health can help you identify what is causing the stress.
Once you know what emotions, feelings, or individuals are causing the stress, you’ll be able to avoid them, thus making your life stress-free. One great way of figuring out these developments is by documenting the feelings that you are having at all times. When you’re feeling stressed, jot down the situation and potential stressors. You’ll know to avoid these situations in the future.
4. Learn To Handle And Solve More Problems Effectively
You don’t have to be a psychology major to have heard about the left and right side of the brain. It is commonly known that individuals that utilize the right side of their brain are more artistic. While those dominant on the left side are more analytical and scientific.
The only hard problem is learning to access both sides of the brain. However, this is where journaling can come in handy. Whether you utilize the left or right side of the brain most of the time, journaling can open you up to some truly unique opportunities.
After jotting down an issue you faced throughout the day, a good exercise is to look at two different approaches to resolving it:
- Use your natural intuition/gut instinct (right side of your brain)
- Be methodical and analytical by thinking through multiple solutions (left side of your brain)
Not only will this help you become better at using each side of your brain, but it’ll also help you uncover which side is naturally more dominant.
5. Become More Empathetic to Others
There is probably nothing worse than feeling down on yourself and you often times feel this way after a disagreement with a loved one or someone close to you. You probably just stew and stew on the problem for hours and hours on in. There really is no possible way to resolve the solution effectively and prevent the situation in the future without seeing the other person’s side.
Sure, most time this is a realization that you don’t want to come to. However, in order to truly open your eyes to how this other person is feeling, you need to jot it down.
Write about how you are feeling and how the feelings affect you. Then in another column write down how the opposing party might feel and the feelings that the argument might have brought up in them.
This will not only put you in the other individual’s shoes but it could bring about a peaceful solution that you only dreamed about.
6. Be More Creative
Have you ever heard of someone keeping a dream journal? Many famous authors and writers practice this tactic from time to time. As they experience a vivid dream they immediately write about their experiences. They do this just in the event that they might forget what happened when they wake, which happens more often than not. This is something that journaling can help you do.
You will not only become more creative in the process, but you will learn that your dreams are in fact your subconscious trying to tell you things. There are a variety of different websites and books that can help you interpret your dreams and understand what they really mean.
Jotting them down in the middle of the night will not only help you remember them, but it will help you discover truly unique things about your psyche.
7. Improve Your Outlook On Life
While you’re at it, you should understand that journaling can help you improve your outlook on life. Journaling is all about reflecting on your life and your current problems. By writing it down, you’ll learn what is going right in your life and what is going wrong in your life.
In return, this can help you figure out ways to deal with your problems. This can help you develop a far better outlook on life.
8. Better Identify Your Problems
Pretty much everyone is going to have problems in their life. You’re no different. The good news is that you can use journaling to help identify your problems a little bit easier. Journaling is all about reflecting. When you begin writing down your day’s journey, you’ll be able to identify the problems that you’ve faced.
This is the best way to ensure that you know what you need to conquer. Then, you’ll be able to come up with viable solutions for dealing with those problems.
9. Become a Problem Solver
Problems in your life are going to spiral out of control if you do not deal with them. In return, this can make you feel downright terrible. It can also lead to intense depression and overwhelming stress.
You can actually use journaling as a way to solve these problems for once and all. Write down your problems. Then, you should write down potential solutions for those problems. This will help you find ways to solve your problems in safe and healthy ways. Once you’ve wrote down these solutions, you should have an easy game to get from the starting point to the finish line.
10. Overcome Anxiety
One of the most common reasons people start journaling for mental health is because they’re dealing with anxiety. If you’re suffering from anxiety, you can often get relief by speaking with someone. If you have no one to speak with, you can use journaling instead.
Journaling will allow you to speak your mind in a sense. In return, this will help you unload that anxiety and get it off of your shoulders and feel much better about yourself in the long run. Always be honest when journaling or you will never receive the maximum benefits.
11. Put Things in Perspective
You must understand that many people blow things out of proportion. There is a good chance that you do the same. Issues that might be small to other people seem like the biggest deal in the world to you. While other people might think you’re just being irrational, the reality is it’s actually a pretty common feeling. But you need to learn how to deal with it and tame it so you don’t end up stressed out for no reason.
By journaling, you’ll be able to get a much better understanding of your problem and how big it really is. By writing about it, you may find out that your problem isn’t that big of a deal at all. That can ultimately take a bunch of pressure off of your shoulders. Be sure to use journaling as a way to gain a better understand of the scope of your real problems!