Bridget Jones may have been on to something when she penned her thoughts, dreams, and struggles in her diary. She used her diary to figure out relationships, job struggles, and more. Journaling can be an amazing tool for mental health and self-care.
Writing in a journal helps to decompress and sort out thoughts. It has been proven to reduce Anxiety and Depression when utilized alongside therapy . Anxiety and Depression are among the most common mental illnesses in the United States. Over 18% of the population suffers from Anxiety disorders. Depression is the worldwide leading cause of disability.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. These tips are from personal experience only. They are in no way a cure, therapy, treatment or a guarantee. They are not a substitute for, the knowledge, skill, and judgment of qualified psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians and health care professionals.
How Journaling helped my Depression and Anxiety:
For me journaling helps me to keep a handle on how things affect my and moods and behavior. I’ve kept a journal throughout my adult life, on and off. However, it became a more important part of my mental health routine after my father passed away in 2018.
My life felt very helter-skelter, I had a hard time processing thoughts, emotions, and memories. Soon after he passed away, in addition to handling grief, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder. I swung from sobbing so overwhelmed with emotion I thought I would drown to barely to get out of bed each day feeling numb.
My journal helped me through each step of my mental health journey. Every time I wrote in it was a release. As I kept a journal every single day for a few months, I began to understand how much my thoughts affected my moods, mental health, and my actions.
Initially, when I began CBT talk therapy for my GAD and MDD, one of the first questions my therapist asked was “Do you keep a journal?” When I said yes, she told me that keeping a journal was a huge and important step.
Journaling for your mental health, helps you to:
- Problem Solve
- Work through and track your emotions
- Acts as a Coping Mechanism
- Boosts your Mood
- Enhances your sense of self
- Improves your writing skills
Tips for getting started journaling for mental health
Make journaling part of your routine! Just 5 minutes of journaling every day is all you need for it to be effective.
Be honest! This journal is just for you. You will lose mental health growth and benefits if you lie to yourself. This is a safe space, a workbook of sorts to get things out.
There are no rules to journaling- This book is for you, so don’t be afraid to customize it to you. Add a poem, draw a picture, use colored pens and pencils. There’sno rules to what you can or can’t write about in your journal. Think of it as an extension of your personality. The more fun and expression you can put into it, the better it is for you!
Make sure to date your entries. This helps to track moods and events. Dating your journal entries is one of the best ways to create a timeline of your mental health.
Keep your journal where you can easily access it! I keep mine on my nightstand so that I can write in it when I wake up or before bed. You can keep it in your purse, on your desk, or even in a note on your phone. Keeping it handy can help you work through difficult emotions at the moment. Allowing you to release and work through your thoughts in real time.
Journal Prompts for Mental Health
Journal prompts are suggestions for topics, or the start of a sentence to help you focus your journal entries. They help to give guidance and focus when writing.
You can tailor them to your personal needs and interests. Just choose one if you’re feeling lost and they can help you begin. I’ve included 10 of my favorite journaling prompts for mental health. But in case you need more you can find lists of 10 journaling prompts for summer and for journal prompts for depression and anxiety.
My favorite Journal Prompts to get you started:
- My favorite childhood memory is….
- The thing I love most about myself is…
- I feel sad when….
- Write a detailed love letter to yourself.
- In your journal list of 3 goals you have, now break each goal down into 3 action steps that you can take to achieve them.
- If I could change one thing about myself it would be?
- Make a list of 20 things you are grateful for.
- I feel anxious when…
- I am happiest when I…
Journaling has been around for thousands of years. And it is still as handy today as it was back then. However, it’s more commonly used as a mental health tool than for historical record keeping.
There are so many benefits to using your journal as a tool for your mental health. I hope this article inspires you to get writing. There’s no story, thought or memory you can’t record in the pages of your journal. When I started journaling regularly as a way to work through my issues, I realized that many of them, once put down on paper are not really as big as I thought
About The Author
Summer K-Hadden is the author and blogger behind The Sunshine Suitcase. A lifestyle blog where she inspires others to live a life they don’t need a vacation from. Self-care, mental health, personal growth, and travel are key components to this passion. Actively recovering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder, she works hard to be open and honest about her struggles, while still working hard to always find the positive side of things.
Summer is originally from the snowy shores of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. After growing sick and tired of the cold white north, she relocated to warm Oahu, Hawaii in 2015. She now spends her days full of sunshine, coffee, and writing. If she’s not getting frustrated by technology you will most likely find her practicing her favorite form of self-care somewhere on, in, or near the ocean with her fiancé, Nick.
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