Growing up you might have kept a diary as a safe place to confess your thoughts and feelings freely. It provided you with an outlet, where you did not have to worry about being judged or ridiculed for anything you had going on in your mind. Putting your thoughts onto paper and out of your head helped you make sense of your world. As an adult, if you struggle with discussing your thoughts and feelings, you might want to revisit journaling.
Journaling gives you an opportunity to help you make sense of the tangled web of your thoughts and feelings. When you have a problem, and you are upset by it, journaling can help you identify the source of your anxiety. Once you have identified the stressors, you can problem-solve to find solutions, thus reducing stress. Studies have shown that the emotional release from journaling lowers symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as improving sleep. Writing down your worries gives your brain permission to move that thought from the foreground of your mind, making you less likely to dwell on it. Over time, journaling makes you more in control of your thoughts and feelings.
Journaling does not have to only focus on negative aspects of your life. In fact, research shows focusing on gratitude can help improve your overall sense of well-being and even boost immunity.
Getting started on a journal might seem daunting, but it does not have to be. There are many different ways to start journaling, and you can find the right fit through a process of trial and error. The most common types focus on:
Stream of consciousness- put pen to paper and write whatever comes to your mind for a specified amount of time or until you get tired, no editing allowed.
Gratitude-listing three or more aspects of your life for which you are grateful. This focus helps reduce stress because it will enable you to acknowledge the positive things already in your life as well as improving your immediate mood
One sentence-writing one sentence about what happened during that day. This technique is useful if you struggle with getting started
Prompts-writing from a prompt either from something you are exposed to-i.e. a song, quote, something you see, etc. or a pre-planned journal with various prompts
Play around with the different types until you find what is most comfortable for you. You might even see that on some days you prefer one style over others. The most important thing is finding out what that makes sense to you. The benefits of journaling are cumulative, but you do not have to write every single day to see improvement. Start off with committing to writing for 10-15 minutes at a time, a few times a week.
Writing in a journal helps you establish order when your world feels like it is in chaos. It is a tool to get to know yourself better by acknowledging your innermost feelings, fears, and thoughts. Look forward towards writing in your journal and know you are doing something positive for your mind.