Here is why Journaling is good for your Mental Health
A problem shared is a problem halved – this is unarguably a popular saying dated back to the days of yore. However, one may want to double-check the veracity of this claim and the extent to which it is universally applicable. As innocuous as the adage may seem, it gets a bit tricky for someone with an emotional or mental health condition that seem best undisclosed. Notwithstanding, another perspective to interpreting this adage could be to halve your problems by sharing them with your journal! This way, one gets to pour her thoughts out without any form of alien interference.
What is journaling?
Journaling is a practice that involves keeping a diary to document your thoughts and the events surrounding your life or a particular experience (This could be done on paper, or through e-channels such as mobile apps). Doing this requires you to actively engage your brainpower which enhances one’s environmental and self-awareness. In order to satisfactorily derive the benefits and impact of journaling on your mental well-being, begin with a strong zeal and a goal in mind. However, please note that journaling is by no means a substitute to professional therapeutic sessions and whether you have a mental illness or not, journaling is a proven exercise that keeps you mentally and emotionally fit
How should you journal?
To start journaling, Positive Psychology suggests that you have the acronym W.R.I.T.E in mind;
- W – What do you want to write about? Think about what is going on in your life, your current thoughts and feelings, what you’re striving towards or trying to avoid right now. Give it a name and put it all on paper.
- R – Review or reflect on it. Take a few moments to be still, calm your breath, and focus. A little mindfulness or meditation could help in this step. Try to start sentences with “I” statements like “I feel…”, “I want…”, and, “I think…” Also, try to keep them in the present tense, with sentence stems like “Today…”, “Right now…”, or “In this moment…”.
- I – Investigate your thoughts and feelings through your writing. Just keep going! If you feel you have run out of things to write or your mind starts to wander, take a moment to re-focus (another opportunity for mindfulness meditation!), read over what you have just written, and continue on.
- T – Time yourself to ensure that you write for at least 5 minutes (or whatever your current goal is). Write down your start time and the projected end time based on your goal at the top of your page. Set a timer or alarm to go off when the time period you have set is up.
- E – Exit strategically and with introspection. Read what you have written and take a moment to reflect on it. Sum up your takeaway in one or two sentences, starting with statements like “As I read this, I notice…”, “I’m aware of…”, or “I feel…” If you have any action items or steps you would like to take next, write them down now (Adams, n.d.).
Why should you journal?
There’s simply no better way to learn about your thought processes than to write them down – Barbara Markway
Journaling has proven to render tremendous benefits ranging from general to peculiar mental health issues. Writing your thoughts and conditions relieves you of something likened to a heavy burden on your shoulders. This brings you tranquil and potentially eases off toxic feelings. Sometimes you want to let it all out. Journaling helps you express how you feel without censors, it further helps to give perspective to some of your problems, filters your thinking and keeps you in track of events.
People with anxiety seem to have their minds congested. Having assessed the cause of your anxiety, consciously penning down your fears, how you think it affects you, and alternative options to conquering them puts you in control of your emotions and sets you free from such pent-up feelings. Subsequently, map out the next steps and action plan that can be executed to curb the anxiety. Be religious with following through, refresh every morning and night and do a progress evaluation after a period deemed appropriate for you. Having in mind that repetitive anxiety cascades to depression, a similar approach to journaling could also prove effective in combating depressive symptoms. However, in cases of chronic depression, the efficacy of journaling as a stand-alone remedy may not be far-reaching when compared with seeking professional therapy.
When a person is dealing with built up stress, journaling your daily engagements (say before bed) enables you to identify the tasks that borne you out. Hence, you get to think of counter-moves to suppress the elements of stress in such activities.
Journaling could however get overwhelming, or make you dig up feelings you’d rather bury. Regardless, the pros dwarf the cons. While bottling up your emotions may appear the easy way out, the aftermath may be worse than imagined. Rather, grab your pad and write your way to a sound mental health.
Art lover, music lover, mental health enthusiast and all round love giver.