Journaling is one of the simplest and most effective ways to manage depression, stress, and other mental health concerns. Yet, it’s one of the most underutilized tools in your toolbox.
Core Recovery counselors and therapists recommend it often because it works. “Journaling is an excellent way to help those experiencing a mental health issue to direct negative feelings into healthy and productive internal energy,” says Core Recovery CEO Jillian Vanselow. “Writing down your thoughts and feelings forces you to focus on details you may have otherwise missed, or have been unconsciously avoiding.”
- Properly release negative emotions that can lead to emotional turmoil.
- Track symptoms, understand triggers and see patterns.
- Pinpoint what makes you feel better so you can continue those actions.
- Learn more about yourself and reflect on how you felt during different phases of your emotional stress or depression.
How to Get Your Journal Started
For some, journaling may be easy. But for those who struggle, we have some tips to help you get started, keep going, and get the most out of this effective tool.
- Set a timer for three minutes. You can build it from there. You don’t have to stop when the timer goes off; you can keep going. Once you get in the rhythm of journaling, you can elminiate the timer.
- Start by writing the date. Write about your day. Or, use these prompt questions to get started:
- What’s my mood right now?
- What’s been on my mind lately?
- To really benefit from journaling, you must be completely honest and transparent with yourself and be specific and detailed in your entries. Use these prompt questions dig a little deeper:
- Do you feel loved? (If so, why? if not, why?)
- How do you feel about your life as it stands right now?
- Do you consider yourself an emotionally and mentally healthy person? (If so, why? if not, why?)
- What makes you happy?
- What makes you sad, anxious, stressed, or angry?
- Find the writing style that works for you. Here are some techniques to try:
- Bullet points. Bullet journals are a good way to write a lot of ideas without having to organize or connect them.
- Train of thought. Write anything that pops into your head. This is a good way to see how you think and how your brain works. In other words, let it flow.
- Artistic. If writing words don’t adequately convey how you feel or what you’re thinking, try drawing it. Or write a poem — however, you can best express yourself.
That Wonderful Feeling
There is no right way to go about journaling, so you should do whatever works best for you.
You’ve written your feelings for the day. It seems a weight is lifted off your shoulders. Remember that feeling. Remembering what it feels like to release all of your thoughts onto paper will be the best thing to keep bringing you back to your journal.