Have you ever kept a diary of any sort?
Do you go through it now?
Imagine if you had a record of how you felt or what you were going through as a teenager. And the memories you’d have looking at it and seeing how much you’ve grown.
A journal is quite similar to a diary. It is a record of your day-to-day life experiences, emotions, achievement, failures or whatever you may want to record about your life.
For the past few years, mental health has been a topic of conversation in many forums. People have come out with their stories and people are now aware of times when their mental health is not at its best. Most people can now recognize symptoms of depression such as anxiety, insomnia, irritability among others.
There are many ways you can keep your mental health in check and one of them is journaling. This is a habit that can help you boost your mood, immunity, and mental health status.
- You become more self-aware
When you start journaling regularly, you gain a sense of clarity of what is happening in your life. You start noticing patterns in your emotions. As you go back to your records, you also get to know your triggers. For example, you start realizing that when you entertain certain thoughts, your emotions change and as a result, your behavior is also influenced. The more clarity you gain, the more you’re able to avoid any triggers since you’re aware of how everything rolls out from a certain trigger.
Having a record you can go back to and see what resulted in you having anxious thoughts, could help improve your mental health status.
- You get an outlet for your emotions
Writing down how you feel about something can help you process your emotions. It can help bring out deeper thoughts and feelings. In the process, you start recognizing the true emotions. For example, as you write about something that made you angry, a deeper emotion such as fear may come up. From there, you can work on dealing with the fear which is the root cause of your anger.
Writing in a journal can help you release the tension you are experiencing before having an outburst on people you love and later regretting it. Reduced tension and anxiety can help you reduce stress hence improving your mental health.
- Improve self-esteem
As you become more self-aware and in control of your emotions, your self-esteem level also increases. You become more optimistic about your life. When you go back and read about achievements you have accomplished, you become proud of yourself. Also, as you write down the goals you have and achieve them, your self-doubt diminishes and you can trust yourself to keep your own promises in anything you set out to do. This self-reflection helps you refocus on what is going right in your life.
- Helps you sleep better
Some people prefer to journal at night before they sleep. This, it has been proven, improves one’s quality of sleep. Insomnia is sometimes a sign that one is stressed. Practicing gratitude journaling before you sleep can help improve the quality of your sleep. Also, writing a to-do list for the following day in your journal can help ease your anxiety if you are overwhelmed about the many tasks you have the following day.
- Improved memory
It is a proven fact that hand-written material is better processed by the brain and easily remembered. Journaling about your goals or what you intend to accomplish in a day can help you remain focused. It will also help you be accountable to yourself, increase optimism in life and eventually improve your mental health.
So, now you know the benefits of journaling, you want to form this habit but you don’t know where to start.
Here are some ideas.
How You Can Start Journaling and Improve Your Mental Health
You can have your normal notebook. It doesn’t have to be structured in any way and you can put any entries you want.
- Have a gratitude journal
Here you can write anything you’re grateful for. You can do this in the morning or in at night before you sleep. You can write them as paragraphs, bullet points or just a sentence. This will help you get your mind off of all that is not going right in your life.
- Bullet Journal
This is a bullet list of tasks, events or activities for the day. Having a bullet journal can help increase your productivity and help ease the anxiety that comes with being overwhelmed by the tasks of the day.
- Positive Affirmations
You can have a list of affirming statements to remind you of your greater self. Statements such as ‘I am worthy’, ‘I am enough’ can help improve your self-esteem and motivation.
- Art Journaling
Another way you can journal is by use of art. You can use visual representations such as drawings, photos or any other form of media to express yourself.
- Prompts Journaling
You can find a template with journaling prompts on the internet. These can be questions to answer that will help you self-reflect and can be done randomly.
Other ways you can journal include; what went well today journaling, you can write a letter to someone (one that you won’t send), you can write what your intuition is telling you about something, how certain music is making you feel and why you resonate with the message.
The list is endless.
There is no standard way of writing a journal. You decide whatever and whenever you want to write. There is no wrong way in journaling. The only goal is consistency.
With this, you will see an improvement and a sense of awareness in your mental health. Now go ahead and put down your thoughts, aspirations, goals and emotions on paper.