4 Ways Journaling Can Help Improve Your Mental Health
Author: Kira Simpson Date Posted:11 October 2021
There’s no denying that the past eighteen months have been incredibly difficult for just about everyone. And it’s during these times, and moving forward, it’s more essential than ever to take care of your mental health.
Journaling can help us achieve our goals and navigate life’s ups and downs, but it’s also one of the most affordable and accessible acts of self-care because all you need is a pen and a note book to do it.
Here are four ways journaling can help improve your mental health.
1. Acts as a ‘brain dump’
This style of freeform writing is a fantastic way to manage the clutter in your mind.
A brain dump is essentially the act of dumping all the contents of your mind onto paper, letting out all the stressors, your feelings, and those nagging thoughts. You just write until you feel like the pressure inside of you has lessened and you can breathe again.
By writing everything down you’re dumping all that stuff floating around in your head. The main benefit here is once you write something down it’s there on the paper right where you left it so you can come back to it later. Then you can work through all your thoughts one by one.
2. A way to boost your mood
Gratitude journaling has been shown to work wonders for our mood and outlook.
This is the journaling method that has been researched most extensively for its role in mental health. Gratitude journals are filled with things that you're grateful for.
They can be larger things like your health, family, things you’re looking forward to. Or the smaller things that bring your joy throughout the day like a great cup of coffee or a beautiful sunrise. The idea is that by regularly calling attention to the positives in your life, you’re essentially training your brain to look out for the things that make you happy.
A popular style is the "five things that I am grateful for," or ‘things that brought me joy today”. You can use this to start off your day with a positive mindset or to help clear your mind before bed.
3. Helps reduce stress and anxiety
Journaling is an excellent stress management tool.
Keeping a journal can help you fully explore your emotions and help you work on reducing specific sources of stress or anxiety.
Writing in a journal can positively impact your anxiety through:
Calming and clearing your mind
Letting go of negative thoughts
Exploring what may be causing your feelings of anxiety
Enhancing your self-awareness and teaching you about your triggers
It is important to know that keeping a journal is only one part of managing stress and anxiety, always seek professional care if you feel like you need more support.
4. Helps you set and achieve goals
Bullet journaling - which is something of a mix of daily planner and a to-do list – is a fantastic way to help you track your life and plan for the future, helping you to feel more in control of your days.
It’s a very effective method of journaling when you’re trying to form new habits, reach goals, and make life changes. The effectiveness lies in that once your tasks are written down, you'll have a streamlined record of your action plan, making tasks easier to tackle.
As you work to incorporate journaling into your life, remember that patience and consistency are crucial in forming new habits. Start with writing 2-3 times a week, making space to write first thing in the morning or as the last task of the day, then work up journaling as much as you need.
Contributed by Kira Simpson
Kira believes that many small actions can collectively make a big difference. We all have the power to vote, invest, make lifestyle choices, become activists and demand change to create the future we want. We’re not perfect, nobody is. But, we are trying to do a little something to leave the world a better place, and you can too. Kira xx