The act of journaling is to use pen and paper to write down your thoughts in your every day life, or during any distressing moments of your day. Journaling can be an incredibly helpful way to process complex thoughts and emotions, and it can also help you promote a more positive outlook on life.
Additionally, journaling can lead to a sense of self discovery, as you unravel your most complex thoughts on a blank page. In this guest blog post, Lauren Groff shares tips for getting started with journaling, as well as how it can help improve your mental health.
5 ways journaling can improve your mental health
1. Figure out which style you prefer
There are multiple journaling styles, so it’s important to figure out which one works best for you. This doesn’t mean you have to stick to this style – you can pick more than one or switch as time goes on. Different types of journaling include daily log journals where you simply reflect on your day, and deep thought journals where you reflect on your deeper thoughts, worries, consider the root cause and what you can do to resolve any issues.
Morning pages are another kind of journaling, a term coined by author of The Artists Way, Julia Cameron who writes that they are, “three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages – they are not high art. They are not even “writing.”
They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only.” The idea is to help clear your mind first thing in the morning, enabling you to feel more grounded and focused for the day ahead.
Finally you can practice gratitude journals where you write about everything you’re thankful for in your life, as well as one sentence journals where you jot down sentence long thoughts about your day, week or month, almost as a simple book mark of how you are feeling at that time.
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2. Try not to worry about spelling or grammar
Sometimes, if you’re feeling flustered or upset you may make some spelling mistakes, or your handwriting may look a bit ‘wonky’. Try not to focus on this or worry about it – remember that the journal is for you and you only. So even if the writing is illegible at times, what’s most important is for you to free your thoughts onto paper, and by doing this, notice how this can create a sense of ease, relief or contentment afterwards.
3. Invest in nice stationary
If you struggle to feel excited to write, consider investing in some nice, attractive stationary to use whilst writing. Getting a beautiful journal with nice pages and colorful pens can really get you inspired to put pen to paper.
Journalist Lena Ley says, “Journaling doesn’t have to be about writing sentences all the time. You can get creative with it, why not write poems, stories, make lists or even draw”.
4. Make sure your journal is a judgement free zone
Give yourself permission to write whatever you’re feeling without policing your thoughts. Try not to attach negative emotions like guilt or embarrassment to what you write – you have every right to your thoughts and feelings, and your journaling practice is your way of helping to address and nurture them. Try not to judge yourself for making this brave step towards exploring your inner thoughts, feelings, or conflicts.
Write whatever you feel at the time, without being concerned that someone might judge you if they were to read it – as previously mentioned, the journal is for your eyes only.
5. Track your moods
There are times when you might write something down and never want to look at it again, which is completely fine.
However, there are times when you may find that reading back on how you felt in the past may be helpful, in terms of identifying what your triggers are, which can lead you to feel better equipped to deal with upsetting situations in the future.
Getting started with mental health journaling
Nurturing your mental health is so important, now more than ever, and looking after yourself needs to always be a priority. Even if you’re not necessarily struggling with mental health problems at this time, journaling is an excellent way to maintain a sense of wellbeing as well as manage difficult situations in life – something we all go through, regardless of our mental health state.
Getting into the habit of journaling is easy and accessible. Simply pick up your pen, put it to paper and enjoy embarking on your writing journey.