How to Start Journaling for Mental Health

How to Start Journaling for Mental Health

Writing down your thoughts and feelings can have a profound impact on your mental health. Here’s how to start journaling for mental health. Journaling takes on many different forms and is used for much bigger purposes, like improving mental health.

Journaling today doesn’t necessarily mean writing on blank paper with pen or pencil. 

In this article, we’re exploring how to start journaling for mental health.

How To Start Journaling for Mental Health

Journal entries can be audio, video, poetry, lyrics, artwork, and writing. You can choose a different journaling method every day or stick with one. There are numerous apps you can download on your smartphone for journaling. Some apps can video or audio record messages for those who don’t enjoy writing.

You can also use social media apps to record yourself for a video entry. If you are creative or artistic, harness those talents to create a unique way to express yourself. Feel free to think outside the box when it comes to journaling for mental health. Make it an activity you enjoy so you can receive the many benefits journaling offers.

Here’s how to start journaling for mental health.

Benefits of Journaling

The benefits of journaling vary based on the time of day, significant events, moods, and much more. If you like to journal in the mornings, it can help you get organized for the day and motivated to accomplish tasks. If you prefer writing at night, journaling can help you relax and clear your mind for a good night’s sleep.

Journal therapy promotes:

  • Being inspired to make healthy changes
  • Reducing anxiety and depression
  • Tracking progress
  • Regulating emotions
  • Boosting mood
  • Engaging the creative side of the brain
  • Enhancing communication skills
  • Improving memory
  • Recognizing triggers
  • Focusing on positive mental health

Choosing the right types of journaling can further these benefits.

Types of Journaling for Mental Health

The list of journaling types is long and should be based on what you find easy and enjoyable. Choosing a type that is complicated or takes too much time can deter you from keeping up the habit of journaling for mental health. 

Free-form Journaling, or expressive writing, simply write or talk about whatever is on your mind. This is the easiest way to journal. However, because most people have more negative thoughts than positive ones, journal entries may lean this way also. It’s essential to avoid this by including positive statements to counterbalance or outweigh the negative.

Mindfulness Journaling for mental health means being present and aware of your surroundings and body. Then document what you observe. For example, if you are mindful of your surroundings, note the things that make you feel happy, sad, angry, discomfort, or any other emotion. Based on your observations, make changes so that your environment promotes good mental and physical health.

Bullet Journaling for mental health is an excellent activity for those who always have a to-do list and like to stay organized. Your to-do list can be part of your daily entry. You can expand how completing specific tasks make you feel or list things you’d rather be doing. 

Guided journaling is like a question-and-answer session. You are provided the questions, and your journal entries provide the answers. There are numerous writing prompts available online. Examples are:

  • What made you happy today?
  • What would you improve about your day if you could?
  • What are the things that worry me? Which ones can I control, and which ones are out of my control? How can I let go of the things I cannot control?
  • What does worry feel like? What does happiness feel like? Be very descriptive and creative.
  • What is missing in my life? How can I get it? What is stopping me from going for it?
  • What are ten things for which I am grateful?
  • How can I take better care of my mental health?

Reflective Journaling is thinking about a particular time or event and documenting your emotions, actions, afterthoughts about it. There are no set rules or guidelines, and it is sometimes compared to expressive writing. The difference is that expressive reflects on the current day, and reflective journaling can be for any day throughout your life.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Journaling

The content of your journal is much more important than the method or type of journal for mental health. When you first start journaling for mental health, even the content isn’t that important, you are developing a habit. 

As you progress, content starts to matter. It’s the content you put into your journal that will help you destress, get organized, and discover more about yourself. Eventually, you want your content to become a part of your mental health growth.

For many, digging deeper for content is challenging, but you can do it with the right help. Working with licensed professional therapists who use tools like cognitive behavioral therapy is a great idea. You don’t have to do this all alone. Therapists have tools to help you think and reflect on a much deeper level. The theory behind cognitive-behavioral therapy is that negative thinking patterns lead to negative emotions and negative behaviors. The goal is to recognize and change negative thought patterns to positive ones. This will lead to positive emotions and positive behaviors.

The topics you can reflect on are the things that are holding you back from being who you are meant to be. Topics like:

  • Past traumatic experiences
  • Grief
  • Relationship problems
  • Alcohol or drug misuse
  • Mental health issues
  • Career decisions
  • Parenting
  • Spirituality or religion
  • Identity confusion
  • Financial worries
  • Eating habits

The list of journaling topics is unlimited and based on your unique needs. Having a therapist offer advice and guidance moves you forward much quicker than trying to do it without help. You may want to share your journal entries with your therapist. They can provide helpful insight when creating a treatment plan.

By starting a journal for mental health today, you can get on the path to living the happy, healthy life you deserve.