Sometimes, when we think about the word “journaling,” it brings us back to our adolescent days wherein we would write in a notebook about our day and on what we feel. We talk about our friends, what happened during our day and of course, talk about the person we like. It is all so cheesy, and we tend to shy away from it now that we are adults. But if you ask psychologists, they would recommend that you still go on with doing it now for therapeutic purposes. Kyle Bourassa said, “To be able to create a story in a structured way—not just re-experience your emotions but make meaning out of them—allows you to process those feelings in a more physiologically adaptive way.”
Being able to write about your day and your feelings are beneficial especially when you’re going through depression, anxiety or stress. This could be an outlet to help you check with your thoughts and feelings so you would not get too worked up with dealing with your emotions daily. Effective journaling could give you positive effects on your daily tasks.
What Is Effective Journaling?
Effective journaling is a practice that helps you cope with all your emotions and thoughts and help you set up your goals and would be a significant impact in improving the quality of life you have.
Journaling varies from person to person and can have different effects depending on the person but will surely give you a positive outcome in your everyday life. Life coach Kimberley Cohen said, “Journaling isn’t just a great outlet, it’s a great journey inward, onward, and upward.”
How Can We Use Writing To Increase Mental Health Wellness?
You might think that journaling is just putting some words into paper and would not have an effect on your mental health. But in journaling, you are allowing your mind to be free and creative, and this would be a big help to relax you and to lessen your stress and anxiety. This can be your mental exercise, so you get better in time.
Journaling has been found to:
- Boost your mood
- Enhances well – being
- Reduces the symptoms of depression before an important event
- Avoidance of symptoms of stress
- Improving your working memory
Journaling is also a big help for people with PTSD. It helps a person relax and move forward and see the positive outcomes of what he/she has been writing instead of focusing on what happened in the past that caused his/her trauma. According to American social psychologist Dr. James Pennebaker, writing even three or four times – for ten to fifteen minutes each time – will help you heal much faster from trauma. It helps to clear the mind chatter that can keep you feeling depressed, anxious, and stressed.
Even when you don’t have a mental illness, journaling can help you improve the quality of your life. You could read what you’re thinking, and you can improve yourself just by reading. You might notice some faults in what you’re thinking and feeling, and you get to be better day by day.
But journaling is not just writing your every thought and emotion into the paper. There are methods on how you could appropriately write so you could understand where your feelings are coming from.
Constructive Journalizing Tips:
- Write somewhere private and quiet and free from distractions
- Write at least once a day
- Give yourself some time to reflect and organize your thoughts before writing
- Write about what feels right at the moment; you don’t have to write about a specific feeling if you are not comfortable yet
- Organize your writing in whichever way feels right for you
- Your journal is only for yourself; this is your safe space, and no one can read it, even your spouse or parents.
The Center for Journal Therapy website also provided a set of guidelines for effective journaling. Always remember WRITE when you journal.
W – What do you want to write about? Think of the present; what do you want to write about today? What emotions are you feeling right now? What are your thoughts? What do you want to achieve? Put this into the paper.
R – Review. Give yourself a few moments to close the eyes and think about what you are writing. Always start with writing “I am” or “I feel” and keep it in the present tense like “Today” or “Right now.”
I – Investigate your feelings and thoughts. Write about all of them and if you think you are losing focus, stop for a moment, take a deep breath and refocus on your writing.
T – Time yourself when you write. Set a goal for how much time you will write and put it down in your journal so you can keep track of your progress. Setting the alarm will help you know when your time is up.
E – Exit strategically. Read everything you’ve written and reflected on it. If you have things that you want to change, write it down and set your goal to improve whatever it is.
Now you know the benefits of writing a journal and the guidelines on how to start and write one. Now, go and follow these steps and give yourself a private space where your thoughts and feelings can be acknowledged and take action with the things that bother you. Keep in mind to take things one at a time so you can figure yourself out and be the best version of yourself.