A lot of mental health professionals include journaling in their list of recommendations to help alleviate mood and deal with their patients’ depressive symptoms. Studies also support this suggestion, saying that journaling is indeed beneficial for one’s mental health. In fact, it may be a good adjunct to therapy. Though it does not cure all illnesses, it has many benefits for those with mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, among others.
Here’s a list of how journaling helps people reduce their anxiety and depression symptoms.
It Encourages One To Be In Control. When your mind is in turmoil, getting that pen to work on paper can pacify those chaotic thoughts. Psychologists agree that writing things down may make it easier for depressed individuals to manage their emotions. Writing has apparently helped their patients get their ideas and views in perspective and reduce the negativity that they feel about themselves.
It Increases One’s Awareness. Writing about something that you are passionate about or simply something that interests you encourages you to know yourself better. Some people do not realize that they can write until they try. Then they have that ‘aha’ moment that lets them know that they have the potential to be a great writer or storyteller. Additionally, when you start writing down something that’s bothering you, you wouldn’t know how worried it has caused you until you’ve jotted it down. If you’re in therapy, you can decide to show your journal to your therapist so that she can help you unravel your barriers and help you move forward.
It Helps Keep Track Of Symptoms. If you practice logging your feelings or thoughts daily, you may be able to identify and keep track of your triggers. For instance, you can notice that one particular symptom keeps coming up and getting worse at a certain time of day, especially when you’re stressed or drained from work. If you can know this, then soon, you’ll know how to avoid and reduce your triggers effectively.
It Changes Your Outlook. Journaling regularly allows you to learn how to talk positively to yourself. Therapists say that they recommend their patients to maintain affirmation journals that they can review during their visits. Some write about their personalities and how they think they can improve on them, and others write about fond memories that are inspiring and powerful.
Journal regularly. At least try to do it regularly – if not everyday, then perhaps every other day, as long as you can monitor your activities and your thoughts regularly. You can spend just 20 minutes or as much as an hour if you’re not busy on some days. When you’re bored or feeling lazy, you can always write in bed right before going to sleep.
Express Freely. Don’t hesitate to write everything and anything you want. It is yours. You can make it private if you wish. Imagine that you’re the only one in the room, and you’re venting out your feelings – bad or good. Don’t think about your grammar or spelling or language. Just let it out. You’ll find that it’s relaxing to the soul.
Try Doing New Things. You’ve wanted to write a letter to someone you hate but just can’t. Write it in your journal. You can rip it out after, or you can let it linger there for you to reread until you’ve slowly forgiven him (or not!). You might be missing people you love that have gone ahead of you. Write about them or TO them. Imagine that you are talking to them face to face and relive the moments that they were with you. It’s healthy sometimes to deal with sadness and loneliness and then knowing when to let go and move forward.
Keep It Close. You can bring it with you when you’re out to work. Who knows, you might want to write down a few important things or events while you’re taking a break in your office. If you’re caught in the middle of annoying traffic, distract yourself by jotting down some lines about your day so far.
In the end, you will hopefully realize that no matter what you write or how you write it, you’ll feel a lot better after you do it!