7 Different Ways Journaling Can Help You
Posted on 14th November 2023
Journaling can help to improve mental health and balance our moods.
I have been inspired by people I work with and how creative people get around journaling.
So, why is journaling good for you?
1. It helps you to be mindful
Journaling helps you to be aware of your thoughts and emotions, to be in the moment with them. To recognise and name them which is the first step in healing. It is so important that we do this because as we go through our day all this ‘stuff’ is going on in the background and we do not realise how it is impacting us or affecting us.
So journaling, writing down your thoughts and feelings helps you to recognise what is going on with yourself ‘in the moment’.
Alot of things go on in our bodies and minds automatically and we do not pay any attention to it because essentially we feel we do not need to or other practical things are much more important to ‘get on’ with and often our emotional state will be pushed to the sideline and not noticed at all.
Being mindful supports you to ‘connect’ with yourself. This is so important in terms of positive mental health.
2. Journaling helps to improve your self awareness
To improve your knowledge of what is going on with you, how you tick, how you operate on a daily basis. Also you become aware of how you are coping.
Having that self awareness is great, it can be painful at times but is highly revealing and I always say ‘if we do not know what the problem is we can’t fix it’. A bit like if you have a plumbing problem, you need to find out where the leak is to be able to sort it out.
If you are leaking emotions and thoughts and you do not know why or where they are coming from you are just going to be all over the place.
3. Journaling can tap into your subconscious
This is a deeper level of self awareness. This is the background stuff that is affecting you, maybe affecting your mood and can pop up when you are under stress or vulnerable. Journaling helps you to identify your subconscious. Everything has an effect on you. By journaling you can identify your ‘background noise’, bring your subconscious into your consciousness gradually a day at a time so you can be able to manage the things that come up suddenly and unexpectedly.
4. Journaling helps to calm the mind
Journaling gets rid of stuff as if you were talking to a good friend over coffee or lunch. A friend you can be vulnerable with and share honestly with. You know that one, when you meet a close friend over coffee or lunch, or spend an afternoon or evening together and you come away feeling like you have had a couple of hours with a therapist, you feel lighter and unburdened of your troubles and worries, you feel like you have really been able to offload.
5. Journaling can help you to rationalise your thoughts
We can often catastrophise, have black and white thinking, be overly self critical. These types of thoughts bring out a stress reaction. When writing things down we can question in ways such as ‘well is that really true?’, ‘is that really rational?’, ‘is it helpful to me thinking in this way?’
6. Journaling can help you achieve your goals and be organised
Lots of clients I have worked with I have been really inspired by as they have got creative and logged what they feel is important for them. That might be daily self care, yoga, gratitudes, tasks, exercise, meditation, reading, all kinds of things but the important thing was that it was individual to what their needs were that they identified during the therapy.
This might take the format of structuring your day. You may find that lists are something you find helpful but be careful not to put too many things on your list because if you do not achieve all on your list you may be likely to go into self criticism which will not be good for you.
I would always suggest if you have a list of things to do during your day only put three big things at the most, on that list. If you achieve those three things you can celebrate your achievements at the end of the day.
7. Gratitude journals give clarity of thinking
By writing down three positive things at the end of the day we counteract our tendency to attract negativity, we have to work to rewire our brain to feel more positive on a daily basis. It is like making a new path in an overgrown woodland. You have to get your hacksaw and scythe to get through the brambles and make a new easy pathway for positivity to work in your brain.
Believe me I am living evidence of this as I used to be a really negative person but I have trained my brain through practicing gratitude to be more positive and I now pretty well always see things from a positive perspective initially.
What types of diaries or journals can you use?
Getting a journal book that you like that is ‘pretty’ or that you really like is good. Preparing yourself by setting a safe space to journal can enhance your ability to access your subconscious. Perhaps lighting a candle or burning some oils.
Thought reflections - Simply writing down your thoughts to help rationalise and make sense of them.
Gratitude diaries - Things you are grateful for each day. Can be as many or as little as you like
Forgiveness diaries - Write down what you forgive yourself for and what you forgive others for. Do this like writing ‘lines’ at school.
Anger Diaries - You may ask yourself why would I want to write anger diaries. I too wondered this when they set it as a task for me in treatment. I thought I was a nice calm loving person who never got angry but I was in denial, I was seething with anger underneath. We can easily dismiss anger, seeing it as an unattractive emotion to have perhaps, so we can deny it. However anger is such a healthy emotion, it tells us that something is not right, it is a safety emotion, it is an indicator that we are being hurt or violated in some way. I suggest if you find yourself snapping for no reason at all then there is probably underlying anger there. So just start to journal your anger. Write down all the little things that get to you, whether it is someone leaving mess around, someone cutting you off or the fact that people do not adhere to your values or respect you. Write it down. This is a way of dumping your anger but also to help you to be mindful of your anger. I expect you all relate to suddenly and unexpectedly exploding when something fairly minor happens such as stubbing your toe. Often it will not be about the toe stubbing but all of those things that have built up over the day that you are angry about and the toe stubbing was just the final straw.
Daily logs, mood, activities, photos, similar to a scrapbook - This would be bespoke, your inner world and spending time with you and acknowledging who you are as a person and having a relationship with ourselves. After all if we do not have a relationship with ourselves how can we have a relationship with anyone else? We often as children do these things but lose the initiative to do them as adults as life becomes busy and hectic and external tasks become more important.
Vision boards or diaries - Writing stuff down such as dreams or vision or putting pictures of things you want in your life.This causes a subconscious impact that helps you to ‘remember’ to work towards your goals.
Affirmations and Daily reflections
Daily quotes and affirmations that can be read on a daily basis are really useful. You can purchase these in books. They give you a focus for the day and a self help or self care thing to reflect on on a daily basis. They give you a focus for each day and can also make great presents for people.
How to get started?
Make a decision
Decide what type of journaling you are going to do, pick just one to start off with.
Buy a book to write in
Make a space. So make sure you have quiet time to do your journaling and even make it a daily ritual
Allow yourself to change your mind, so you can start doing a different type of journaling at any point.
There are no rights or wrongs, this is your personal journal.
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