If you’ve never tried journaling, you might be surprised to learn just how powerful it can be. Journaling is one of the most accessible (and cheapest) self-care practices to help you feel your feelings—which is especially important if you typically pretend they don’t exist. Journaling doesn’t have to be poetic or pretty so don’t let that put you off, think of it as a tool to help you understand complex thoughts or gain insight and perspective. Releasing your thoughts without judgement has heaps of benefits including improved mental health, better sleep, more mindfulness and decreased anxiety levels.
Why Does It Work?
There's a myriad of reasons that come together to make journaling an effective way to boost mental health. Writing down thoughts, labelling the emotion and unpacking trauma - all a by-product of writing down our feelings, helps us to lighten the emotional load. In a similar way to sharing our thoughts verbally with a therapist.
Writing down what’s going on in our minds, can help us to organise thoughts, spot patterns and make sense of trauma or beliefs that are holding us back. It can also help us to find clarity on our goals, identify our beliefs and seek perspective on ideas. This form of written organisation can help us begin to break thought loop cycles that continue to repeat as we begin to make sense of what’s going on in our internal world.
This helps us to decrease emotional burdens. Our brains aren’t working as hard to process what is going on - we create a space between ourselves and our thoughts just like we do during meditation.Our sleep improves, work life may improve and so does overall feelings of wellbeing.
How Do I Do It?
The thought of staring at a blank page can be daunting. What should you even write about and where do you actually start?
This is where journaling prompts and exercises can be useful, particularly if you don’t know where to begin. Journaling can take many forms but one of the most popular is to answer a single question or prompt. You may wish to start with one question a day or a couple. Journaling prompts can be centred around different themes - they can be general or specific. The irony is you often don’t know what you should be writing about until you begin writing. So don’t get too hung up on the prompt, just start and see what comes up for you.
Things to Keep in Mind
You don’t need a fancy journal - any notepad will do. Don’t worry about writing in full sentences or your spelling or grammar. This is a space for flowing not forcing. Journaling doesn't have to be an exercise in beautiful writing, it’s simply an opportunity to get your thoughts out on to paper. If you don’t like writing, try answering the prompts as a voice note or typing it on your laptop - find whatever works for you.
Start by answering a couple of journaling prompts that speak to you.
Journaling Prompts for Gratitude
What is a simple pleasure i’m grateful for?
What is something you’re grateful for you didn’t have a year ago?
Write about a happy memory
Open the window and look outside, what are you grateful for?
What is happening today that you are grateful for?
Journaling Prompts for Releasing Emotions
The feelings I’ve been experiencing a lot lately are…
Which of the emotions have I been holding onto?
How could I neutralise or release this emotion?
What is behind these feelings?
The next time I feel an emotion I am not comfortable with I am going to..
If I were to adopt a new way of seeing this struggle, I would like to believe things like…
Some things I might say to a friend struggling with their emotions and feelings are…
Journaling Prompts To Set New Intentions
The feelings I want to experience more of in life include..
If I was going to add something that brought more joy and enthusiasm into my life, I would add
Three questions I could ask myself every morning to raise my vibration are..
If I were to visualise my future self at my happiest and healthiest, what would I be doing and who would it be with?
What have I stopped doing that I want to start again?
Imagine meeting your seventy-year-old self. What advice would your seventy-year-old self give you?
How Often Should I Journal
If you can find ten or fifteen minutes to get your thoughts out several times a week you’ll certainly notice the benefits. Who knows, it might just turn into a daily practice for you.