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.

Affirmations

Gratitude list

Things you love about yourself

Goals you have

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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.

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