Journaling: How You Can Use Writing to Improve Your Mental Health

Why do we journal? Why do we write?

Depending on who you ask, you could hear dozens of different answers. Some people may enjoy the creative process. Some people might enjoy entertaining others. For some, the process may be therapeutic.

That is why I write. I started this blog in January of 2019 to help me navigate a lot of emotions that I was experiencing. Every post I write is infused with a song that is playing on repeat in my heart.

Is this something that resonates with you? Wanting to write as a form of therapy but don’t know where to start? In this blog post, I will give you some ideas on what types of writing could help you, what to write about, how to get started, and why it’s a great practice.

Types of journaling

  1. Pen and paper. You can choose to go old school. Grab a notebook and pen and start writing. I really like the idea of this method, because I think there is something especially therapeutic about writing with a pen. It is almost like releasing the negatively from your brain with the pen as a conduit.
  2. Typed. Typing is great because, thanks to technology, you can bring your journal with you wherever you go. (As long as you have your phone!) For anyone concerned about wanting to write spontaneously and not having their journal handy, this is a fantastic option.
  3. Blog. If you want to share your journaling with others, a blog would be the right choice for you. It is relatively simple to start, and you will be able to share your blog posts via email, text message, or social media. You can start a blog on WordPress by following a few simple steps.
  4. Vlog. If you are a better speaker than writer, or prefer more spontaneous methods of sharing your thoughts, you can start a vlog on Youtube. Your posts would be in video form instead of text.

Topics to write about

If you aren’t sure what to write about. Here are a few ways you can get started.


Gratitude list

Things you love about yourself

Goals you have

Journaling, therapy, writing, notebook

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How to get started

Luckily you don’t need very many supplies to start journaling. You just need a notebook and pen, or a smart phone/laptop.

When you start writing, I recommend setting aside 10-15 minutes daily to dedicate to this activity. You can write it in your planner, or set a reminder on your phone.

Once you have a system in place for reminding yourself to write, you need to figure out where to write. I recommend a quiet space, free of clutter, as our minds often reflect the space that we are in.

Why writing improves your mental health

So, why should you write?

The power of positivity

Journaling exercises like daily affirmations and gratitude lists are good for the following reasons.

“…evidence suggests that affirmations can help you to perform better at work. According to researchers, spending just a few minutes thinking about your best qualities before a high-pressure meeting – a performance review, for example – can calm your nerves, increase your confidence, and improve your chances of a successful outcome.

Self-affirmation may also help to mitigate the effects of stress. In one study, a short affirmation exercise boosted the problem-solving abilities of “chronically stressed” subjects to the same level as those with low stress.

What’s more, affirmations have been used to successfully treat people with low self-esteem, depression, and other mental health conditions. And they have been shown to stimulate the areas in our brains that make us more likely to effect positive changes in regard to our health.”

This is according to MindTools, and gives you lots of great insight into the power of positivity.

Writing as a form of release

According to Psych Central, there are 3 types of therapeutic writing:

  • Free writing. This is simply writing without thinking about it. Just write what comes to your mind without censoring yourself.
  • Pen poetry. The article recommends starting by listing images from your childhood, especially positive ones. Take time to really engage with the memories.
  • Writing a letter. It is a great idea to write a letter to someone without sending it. It could be someone you had a fight with recently, or an ex-partner whose love you still cling to.

Get journaling!

I gave you different types of journals you can dedicate yourself to, topics to get you started, and reasons why this is so effective. After you read this, I’m confident you will be able to start journaling in no time.

Still feeling like you are short of topics? Save this picture to a place you are likely to see it when you write! These are some really good places to start.

Journal, writing, journal topics
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Related Posts: Journaling: How You Can Use Writing to Improve Your Mental Health, 5 Books About Mental Health to Read ASAP, 10 Self Care Tips You Can Use Today to Feel More Emotionally Well

80 thoughts on “Journaling: How You Can Use Writing to Improve Your Mental Health”

  1. I love journaling. I only go into it after watching Wheezy Waiter on youtube try it. Since then I’ve been journaling most days on Evernote and just writing without any thoughts of anyone reading it ect. It doesn’t have to be perfect and that’s perfect (ironically) for me!

    1. Hey! I’ve never heard of Wheezy Waiter… I will have to look it up. I think writing without trying to make it perfect is a perfect idea 🙂 Thanks for reading!

    1. Hey Swathi, I like keeping journaling separate from blogging too. Some parts of my posts feel therapeutic to write, but I don’t want to totally bare my soul for the public just yet! Thanks for reading!

  2. I agree that writing can really help. I love to write and always have. It can be a good stress reliever too. This is one reason I really love to blog.

  3. I agree! Journaling does wonders for my mental health. That’s kind of why I started blogging many years ago. I don’t write as much about what’s on my mind these days, but I do have a gratitude journal that I write in each morning!

  4. Monica Simpson

    I’ve noticed that Caring Bridge has become more popular for people who have a loved one going through a hard time like cancer. I can see how it’s therapeutic to write your thoughts and feelings out.

  5. My two best ways of dealing with negative emotions are going for a walk or writing about them. I don’t usually journal unless I’m upset, but it really helps me to sort things out and leave the negativity behind.

  6. I used to keep a gratitude journal but found it difficult to sustain. I definitely need to find the time and pick that up again! It was very helpful.

  7. Awesome stuff here! I’m a huge proponent of journaling for mental health/de-stressing. I like that you point out all the different types of journaling that one can do. I started out just writing down my thoughts, and ended up with some pretty morose journal entries. Not very inspiring! I decided to focus more on a gratitude mindset, and that has helped me a lot! Free-writing also helps when I’m trying to tap into my creative juices. Great stuff!

  8. Writing it down has always been my kind of therapy. Initially it was on paper in the form of free writing, eventually my words started flowing out on some public platforms and finally my personal blog came into existence. I have yet to try writing a letter. 😊

  9. Pam Wattenbarger

    Those are great journaling ideas. Since I’ve started journaling I’ve also done my feelings/frustrations, along with things I am grateful for, and that has helped.

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  12. I started writing earlier this year to help me navigate through my anxiety and has now transitioned to a blog to help others. Thank for reinforcing the importance of writing and the positive impact it can have on your daily life.

  13. This post has great tips and points! I always forget to journal but I try to at least write my goals and thanks in my planner every day. It really helps! My favorite thing is affirmations though. They can be life changing!

  14. I just finished journaling before I went to read some blogs. 🙂 I totally love journaling. Though there are days where I don’t have much to write, it still feels nice to clear up your head a bit while writing. I also started journaling this year and it did help with my mental health.

  15. I absolutely love journaling, though my journal is more of a diary. It is freeing to explore negative emotions and put down angry thoughts in ink instead of speaking them out loud unnecessarily and hurting others.

  16. I find journaling (and blogging) to be so therapeutic. I highly recommend it as well for anyone looking for an outlet for their thoughts and feelings or just whatever!

  17. I really like this post. I wrote a similar one a few weeks ago (and I started my blog in January 2019 as well ☺️) I’ve always kept a journal ever since I was little, and I wouldn’t be without one now.

    I like the affirmations suggestion. I’ll have to try it next time I get my journal out, because it’s something I haven’t done yet.

  18. I love this! I’ve wanted to seriously make journaling a part of my life. Thank you for adding in types of ways to write. I’m so used to just free writing, but I think I need to try both writing a letter and pen poetry.

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