Keeping any type of journal will help with improving any mental health issues. However, if you really want to tackle a specific problem you’re having, it will help to determine the right type of journal to keep. Keeping a particular kind of journal may work best for your issue.
One thing that can really help you make your journaling work is to instill some journaling rules. Journal every day, make it a habit. Keep it private unless you decide to let your therapist see it or you decide to use it to help others. Journaling is for you.
* Boost Your Mood – If you really want to boost your mood, keeping a gratitude journal is where it’s at. All you have to do is once a day, preferably before bed, write down what you’re grateful for today. It might not seem like much but it’s very powerful for going to sleep, thinking positively about your life.
* Increase Your Sense of Well-Being – As you write out your thoughts, you’ll start seeing issues from a new angle just because you’re opening your mind to think about it. This is going to make you feel more capable of dealing with whatever happens.
* Lessen Symptoms of Depression – Understand that depression is something different from sadness, might require a mood journal. Writing it all down can make it seem less horrific so that you can feel better. Plus, you can look back at days you thought life was "over" and see better days after.
* Reduce Anxiety – The problem with anxiety is that it was designed to help us get away from immediate danger. It triggers the "fight or flight" response. If each time you have that anxious feeling you choose to write in your journal how you are feeling and why, you’ll start to control it better.
* Lower Avoidance Behaviors – Many people who have mental health issues practice avoidance behaviors such as not going to places that cause them anxiety, or not doing the things they need to due to how they feel. When you write it out, it helps you get the feelings out and go anyway.
* You’ll Sleep Better – Pouring your heart out into a journal is a great way to get things off your chest. However, for sleep, go to the gratitude journal and write down what you’re thankful for today and go to sleep thinking of that.
* Make You a Kinder Person – Exploring your own emotional state and accepting your own feelings while you work through what makes you who you are in your journal is going to make you naturally more empathetic to others too. Letting go of judgment for self improves your thoughts for others also.
* Improve Your Memory – This is almost a situation where you want to say "duh" but it has to be said. Writing down things helps you remember them because you can go back and read it, but also because the act of writing something down enables you to recall it.
Journaling to Help with Stress
It’s surprising that writing can accomplish so much, but if you go into journaling with the right attitude and a goal in mind, you can achieve a lot. The important thing is that you need to be honest with yourself so that you can find out the true causes of your stress. In this way, the actions you take to overcome it are really effective.
Stress affects almost everyone at some time in their lives. Here are a few ways to journal to combat your stress.
Write Daily for 5 to 15 Minutes
The thing about journaling that is important is you need to do it daily long term for it to really work. It takes a lot of writing and insight to figure out why you’re dealing with stress and how to overcome it.
Write about Your Worries
Go straight to the problem and write about your worries. Describe them from every single angle you can come up with. The more descriptive, the better. Go back to the first time you felt this feeling regarding this topic so that you can get to the bottom of it.
Describe What’s Happening Now
Put out of your mind what you did, what someone else did, or what can be done - right now write about precisely what is happening right now and where you stand with the issue causing your stress. If it's generalized stress, try to make a list of things that might be contributing.
Document the Worst That Can Happen
As you look at the situation, one thing that often causes stress is the unknown, or the "worst thing" that you think can happen. Describe this worst thing but make it realistic.
Document the Best That Can Happen
Let’s get serious by thinking about and writing about the very best (realistic) outcome of the situation you’re stressing about. Include potential steps and tactics to achieve this best-case scenario so that you can see it to fruition if you so choose.
Document What Is Really Happening
As you are writing, be very careful to be realistic and honest above all else. Other than when you imagine the best and worst, ensure that you are also documenting the reality of what is happening to you right now. That way, you can narrow down identifying the stress-inducing situation.
Write a Counter-Argument to Yourself
A really good way to overcome some stress about a situation is to argue with yourself. First, tell your story as a letter to yourself about what is happening. Then write a letter back to yourself in answer, arguing all the negativity and turning it into positivity. If your best friend wrote that, what would you say back?