Just as practicing yoga, weightlifting, or other exercise helps cultivate the body awareness that is so important to recovery, journaling helps with mental awareness.
The world’s getting complicated by each passing day and carrying all those complications can be very stressful for you at the time, which is why we need an outlet. And, what better way than externalizing those feelings and thoughts!
One great way of letting go of all such thoughts is to journal such thoughts or as “psychologists” might ask you, create a mental health diary that has anything and everything that’s bothering you.
What is a Journal exactly?
To begin, it is worth reflecting on what might constitute a journal. Physically, it could be a bound notebook, a ring binder full of papers, a collection of electrical particles on a computer disk, or an audiotape. People journal in different ways. It shares some qualities with things like logs and diaries – it records experiences and events over a period of time. However, writing and keeping journals also entail conscious reflection and commentary.
It is a reconstruction of experience and, like the diary, has both objective and subjective dimensions, but unlike diaries, the writer is (or becomes) aware of the difference. The journal as a ‘service book’ is implicitly a book that someone returns to. It serves purposes beyond recording events and pouring out thoughts and feelings.
Like the diary, a journal is a place to ‘let it all out’. But the journal is also a place for making sense of what is out… The journal is a working document.
People who do this, i.e, journal their thoughts, write, sketch, doodle, and play with their imaginations. They record their immediate feelings, thoughts, interests, and intuitions dictate. They write whenever they wish – for pleasure and for self-guidance.
How should I Start the Process of Writing Journals?
Choose a Medium where You Wish to Write
You could pour down all your thoughts on paper. Or, if you are into notepads and love to write on word processors, digital notes apps, and the like, it could be even better, or even use sites such as https://nowandme.com/thoughts where you can interact with people and learn from their experiences, the best thing about this site is that you can do it anonymously as well! Your smartphone stays with you even while you are sleeping so you will be able to write down your feelings as and when it arrives.
Write whatever Comes to your Mind or Whatever Strikes your Heart
You must have heard of the phrase “be true to yourself” and when you are journaling for mental health you should be absolutely truthful. Sometimes, we don’t express our feelings to others fearing that we will be judged, isn’t it? But, when you are journaling feelings there is no one to judge you. This is also one of the benefits of journaling that you don’t censor your thoughts and feelings and you can let them flow freely.
Date every Entry
If you only establish one habit in your journal, let it be this one! Dating every entry allows you to chronologically reconstruct your journal by date. It also lets you hear the silence between your entries.
Start Writing; Keep Writing
Start with the present moment (“What’s going on?”) Or start with a feeling (“I’m so mad I could bust!”) Or start with a story (“Today the weirdest thing happened….”) Once you’ve started, don’t go back to edit or rewrite. And don’t think too much. Let it flow.
Keep (and Re-read) What You Write
Often the writers that feel like throw-aways contain the seeds for future insight. Keep it, re-read it later, and surprise yourself with how much you knew that you didn’t know you knew!
Be Creative with How You Maintain a Journal
It needn’t be necessary that you only have to write down your thoughts. If you are a good artist who loves sketching, drawing stuff, then you can always draw your thoughts down on a sheet. You can always turn those deeply hidden words into a nice piece of art.
You could also grab music as a medium to journal feelings. And, it doesn’t if you haven’t sung a single note in your life, you could simply hum a song that rightly signifies your feeling or pick up an instrument that resonates with your feeling. For example, Drum is a great medium for expressing anger, passion, happiness, or even sadness very well.
What Do I Write About?
If you’re journaling for emotional awareness, write about your emotions. Describe how you feel about a person, event, situation, piece of advice, rule—whatever sparks an emotional response. Ask yourself why you’re having such a strong reaction—have you always reacted this way to this particular kind of person, event, situation, etc.? If so, what do all of these triggers have in common? If this is a new feeling for you, what feels new about it? If you explore it further, do you find that it connects to a more familiar feeling?
You can also describe the layers of feeling you experience. For example, if you start writing because you feel hurt about what someone said to you, what other emotions are at play? Anger? Insecurity? Self-hatred? Guilt? Write it all out. See if you can find a point of origin. Here are some strategies you can venture into:
Some people keep a daily gratitude journal where they list three or more aspects of each day for which they are grateful. This is a highly effective strategy for relieving stress because it helps you to focus on the resources you have in your life already and create a more positive mood at the moment, both of which have been shown to build long-term resilience.
A bonus benefit is that you are left with a record of the many nice things that have happened throughout your days, so if you're feeling down in the future, you can cheer yourself up with a few pages of reminders for the things you have to appreciate in life.
You may also write about your emotional responses to events that have happened throughout the day as a way of coping with the stress. This can help you to process what you are feeling and perhaps even explore more positive reframing options.
When writing about positive experiences, this allows you the ability to maximize and savor the positive feelings you may have for the good things that have happened in your day. This is also a great way to expand on the positive and manage the negative things that happen in your life, increasing your positivity ratio, which is an important aspect of stress management.
Bullet Journal or Personal Planning Journal:
Some people simply keep journals to track what they need to do each day, goals they have, the memories they create, and other things they don't want to forget. Because writing things down can help keep your mind uncluttered and help you to remember what's important to you, this can relieve stress as well. Being more organized and balanced is a great way to feel less stressed.
Here is something that helped me:
It's easy to WRITE W- What topic would you like to write about? What are you thinking/feeling? R- Review/reflect on it. Think about how you are feeling, take deep breaths. I- Investigate your thoughts. Start writing and keep writing T- Time yourself, make sure you are not spending a lot of time only on thinking. Write whatever comes to your mind. E- Exit smart by re-reading what you’ve written and reflected on it.
You may also read: Fitness regimes: Healthy Mind + Healthy Body = Happy Life
What if Someone Reads It?
This is a terrifying prospect. If my loved ones ever read some of the things I’ve written about them in fits of anger or hurt, they might be devastated. Nevertheless, my advice is to:
- Write anyway
- Take common-sense precautions (don’t leave your journal lying on your loved one’s desk, for example)
- Ask the people you love to not read it You can also try saying a protection prayer over your journal, asking that it not attract readers or bring harm to anyone.
In the end, if someone reads your journal and is hurt by it, that’s not your fault. You are not responsible for someone else’s reaction to what you say or write about them, especially if they’re violating your boundaries and your trust. Harsh but true. So, have the intention to do no harm and then let go of your fear.
If you can’t let go? If you’re really, really scared about something you’ve written? Burn it. The work you’ve done in writing has had its healing function regardless of whether you save the artifact of that work or destroy it.
Benefits of Keeping a Journal?
Clarify your Thoughts & Feelings
Do you ever seem all jumbled up inside, unsure of what you want or feel? Taking a few minutes to jot down your thoughts and emotions (no editing!) will quickly get you in touch with your internal world.
Know yourself Better.
By writing routinely you will get to know what makes you feel happy and confident. You will also become clear about situations and people who are toxic for you — important information for your emotional well-being.
Writing about anger, sadness, and other painful emotions helps to release the intensity of these feelings. By doing so you will feel calmer and better able to stay in the present.
Solve Problems More Effectively
Typically we problem solve from a left-brained, analytical perspective. But sometimes the answer can only be found by engaging right-brained creativity and intuition. Writing unlocks these other capabilities and affords the opportunity for unexpected solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.
Resolve Disagreements with Others
Writing about misunderstandings rather than stewing over them will help you to understand another’s point of view. And you just may come up with a sensible resolution to the conflict.
Keeping a Journal also has certain Health Benefits:
- Journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma, arthritis, and other health conditions.
- It improves cognitive functioning.
- It can strengthen the immune system response.
- It can counteract many of the negative effects of stress.
How to Make a Bullet Journal quickly:
Here is a fun video for you to watch. Journaling is a wonderful release and can be very healing. But it’s a solitary endeavor, and as humans,A we need to express ourselves to others. Journaling can help us know how to approach a much-needed conversation.
In particularly stressful or difficult times, journaling can remind us that we need to get out of our own head and seek feedback from a therapist, mentor, or sponsor. Think of journaling as one tool in your recovery toolbox. Use it, but be open to using other tools as well, such as art therapy.
POUR YOUR HEART OUT!!!!!!
Edited by Annanya Chaturvedi