Updated: Jul 6, 2020
You mean to tell me that writing down my feelings, tracking my symptoms and other emotions can help with my mental health? Heck yes, that's what I’m saying! Journaling for some, is another form of therapy, it helps you express and process your emotions. Journaling allows you to be honest with yourself with fear of judgement, it keeps and protects your secrets.
Some use journaling as a form of communication with their family members as well. They write down what they're feeling or going through because it may be hard for them to verbalize and allow their loved ones to read what they wrote to better understanding where they are in their mental health journey.
What I hope you get from this blog is a better understanding of what journaling is and what the benefits are for doing it for your mental health. I will also be giving you some journaling prompts to get you started if you’re interested in journaling.
What Does it Mean to Journal?
According to thefreedictionary.com, to journal means to keep a personal record of occurrences, experiences and reflections kept on a regular basis. We’ll get into the benefits of doing all of this later, but here are my suggestions on when it comes to journaling:
Target, Amazon, Staples and Micheals all have great journals to choose from
Find one that you can stand looking at for as long as you journal, you’ll be spending much of your time with it so choose something that inspires and encourages you to write in
Find a pen or pencil that you enjoy writing with! We all have our favorite pen/pencil so using one to write in your jornal should be considered
Take your journal with you, you ever know when you might need to write in it to help you through a situation
Write at your own pace, find a spot that you like to write and don’t worry about how you ‘sound’ - this is for you by you and that is all that matters
If you choose to share your entries, make sure set boundaries with that person so they don’t read/know beyond what you want them to
What Are the Benefits of Journaling for Your Mental Health?
Mellowed.com gives great ways journaling can benefit for your mental health:
1. Clear Your Thoughts and Feelings - take a few minutes to write when you feel overwhelmed. Don’t worry about typos, edits or mistakes - just get it out and hopefully your mind will be clear and you get what’s on your chest off!
2. Know Yourself Better - what makes you happy, mad, triggered? Writing down how you feel and going back over what you read ever so often can help figure out who you are and what makes you tick so to speak.
3. Eliminate Stress - stress is a killer, literally and holding it in can be dangerous, especially for your mental health. Writing out your emotions can help you figure out what the cause of your stress is and can lead to you to avoid the causes as well.
4. Learn How to Handle and Solve Problems - writing down your thoughts and coming back to them later can help you look at them in 2 different ways:
Using your gut instincts or intuition
Thinking analytically and methodically
5. Become Empathetic - if you are having an issue with another person, make a chart. On one side, write down how you feel and on the other, write down how you think they feel.
This can help you see what the other person's perspective is. This can lead you to be more empathic to what they’re feeling and hopefully come to a peaceful solution
6. Overcome Anxiety - I encourage you to take your journal with you wherever you go because you may not have someone to talk to at the moment. Yes, it’s ideal to talk to a trusted friend or therapist, but that’s not always possible. If you are feeling anxious at the moment, writing in your journal can help bring your stress levels down and you can articulate them to someone at a later more appropriate time.
7. Put Things In Perspective - when you’re in an emotional state, you tend to make a mountain out of a molehill, I know I can! However, journaling your feelings and coming back to what you wrote later can help you put your emotions in perspective and maybe see if your emotions were justified. Also, putting things in perspective can help you look at things in a more positive light.
If you are interested in journaling and don’t know where to start, here are 7 prompts that can help you get started:
Talk about your day - the good, the bad, the ugly and all of it made you feel
What Are You Grateful For - finding the positives when you have a bad day can be tough, but remember, it can change your outlook
How Do You Cope - sometimes we know what our coping skills are, but when we’re in the thick of it, it can be hard to remember. If you've written what your coping skills are and have your journal handy, you can remember what works. You can also re-evaluate your coping skills and update them as needed.
Goals, Goals, Goals - what is something that you want to accomplish, or a goal you want to reach? Write it down, but also write down how you plan to reach that goal. Start off small, don't write down 3-5 goals and get discouraged if you can’t meet them - baby steps!
Write a Message for Yourself For Bad Days - we all have bad days, but when you're having a bad mental health day reading a positive message you sent yourself can help boost your mood, put things in perspective and remember you of what you feel is most important.
Write the Best Compliment You’ve Received - oftentimes when I’m feeling down, I remember what positive things my friends and family have told me and it helps. I would take this even a step further and write down ALL the best compliments people have ever told you so that you can remember how others see the good in you when you see the bad.
Write a Letter to Your Body - many of those who struggle with mental health issues, struggle with body image issues. On your best day, when you’re feeling yourself, write down what it is you love about your body and refer to it when you’re not feeling yourself.
Journaling isn’t for everyone, but I would give a try! Whether or not you journal everyday or a few days a week, I hope that you get something from it and that it helps you in your journey toward healing.
My 2 Cents -
Journaling isn’t for everyone, if it’s not for you that’s fine. However, I do encourage you to find an outlet for emotions, it’s not good to keep them inside.
If you’ve noticed, I often said go back to your writing. For growth purposes, you need to see how far you’ve come, or not, in order to know what you need to change, keep doing or stop doing
Be open to try new things that will help you grow as a person and help improve your mental health
I really hope this blog has helped you, if it did email me so I know how - (bloggers need encouragement too ;)
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*I am not a licensed therapist. This post does not serve as a form of therapy or diagnosis. If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911 or your doctor.