Updated: May 19, 2019
Perhaps when you were younger you may have secretly kept a diary under your bed that recorded your most secret thoughts and feelings. Perhaps this diary even had a lock on it to keep your nosey sibling away from it's classified information. This was a place where you could safely express yourself openly, without judgement or reservation. Somehow doing so made things more clear, more simple.
You may have stopped using that diary in adulthood but the benefits of expressing written thoughts still apply. Now this practice is called journaling. It's simply writing down thoughts and feelings to understand them more clearly. If you find yourself battling anxiety, depression, grief, fear or other emotional challenges, journaling can be a powerful and effective tool to help you improve your mental health and gain control over your emotions.
Benefits of Journaling
1. Stress Reduction:
Stress management seems to be an area that all people struggle with. Journaling brings stability and allows for better focus to disentangle thoughts and ideas. It has the power to hold thoughts still so they can be changed, examined, integrated and even challenged. The act of writing out feelings releases pent-up thoughts and emotions while allowing a safe and raw expression to provide relief. It allows you to re-experience past events with today's adult understanding and allows you to let go or detach in a healthy way and reduces the stress associated with an event. Journaling further enables an effective way to express worry and decrease tension.
2. Promotes Healing: Journaling allows for the freedom of expression. This freedom is necessary to process pain and reach healing. The process of journaling starts sorting and grouping thoughts and emotions into workable, manageable categories and creates a more simple and less overwhelmed thought pattern. The expression of these feelings soothes troubled memories and strengthens a sense of self. The ability to self soothe through open, safe expression is necessary for healing and consolidating the strong emotions. The expression and analyzation of non- judgmental and honest thoughts serves as your own personal therapist and helps brings insight and clarity through pain.
3. Personal Growth: Journaling helps you grow personally in that it measures and tracks what's important to you. In reviewing your thoughts over time you start seeing themes, concerns, messages and burdens that oftentimes go unrealized or remain minimized. When tracking these themes you can better address the issues, resolve the conflict and find a quicker and more effective resolution to problems. For personal growth to develop, freedom of expression is necessary. Doing so in safe conditions allows for existential reflection and higher thoughts to accumulate. By identifying challenges, themes and finding breakthroughs you develop the ability to progress higher and reach goals more readily.
Journaling is simple, easy and applies to clarify any area of your life. It has no rules or templates to follow but permits you to be creative, explore whatever comes up and allows for your own connections to evolve. You may be surprised when starting the process as you notice how quickly and clearly issues are addressed and how much better you feel emotionally. There is an emptying that comes with the expression of feelings on paper (or typing them out) that frees and unlocks the tangled mind.
View your journaling time as a time of relaxation where you can unwind and slow down while emptying your pressing thoughts and emotions. Look forward to this time and see it as self-care.
* Find a peaceful, distraction-free space you feel comfortable and relaxed in
* Set time aside every day in which to write and use the same notebook or journal
* Write whatever comes to mind and what is most currently pressing or preoccupying to you
* Do not worry about spelling errors or grammatical structure
* Do not sensor yourself but notice what thoughts come to mind and just let them flow
Pick up the practice of journaling today and notice your mental health shift and your insight come into focus.