Nothing could explain journaling better than this quote. Many of you might think that journaling is about creating something extraordinary out of your life or a few might misinterpret it with writing stories, poems, or fiction.
To those who are wondering, journaling is a beautiful notion to simply understand life by assembling all the facets that it incorporates.
A journal is like that companion who stays by your side to listen to your hardships, milestones, feelings, mood swings, thoughts, goals, troubles, bad habits, good habits, and many other such happenings.
And, just like that companion who assists you at every event of your life or comforts you on your bad days or helps you get your life together, Journal does the same.
Enough with the babble, now we’ll understand what exactly a journal is and how it is beneficial in our daily life and to the people who deal with mental health issues.
What exactly is a Journal:
A Journal is a way of keeping a record of life’s events including experiences, ideas, inspiration, thoughts, behavior, emotions, past events, goals, observations in order to reflect upon them.
It does not have to be carried out by going for any rules, regulations, or criteria for that matter. You don’t need a perfect dialect or grammar or any sort of writing skills to start with it.
It just goes by one rule and that is “ START WRITING”.
Benefits of Journal:
People use journals for various purposes.
Now we’ll see how different types of journals assist differently.
Basic Journal/Daily Journal:
A Basic journal is simply a process of maintaining our lives in an organized manner. It is done by keeping a record of everyday life activities that incorporate daily tasks, goals, ideas, habits, feelings, emotions, behavior, and the like.
The following are some of the basic ways of making use of a journal.
A to-do list journal is used when we want everything to be organized and planned for the rest of the day or week.
Writing down all the tasks for the day first thing in the morning gives you more effective results than keeping it in our minds does.
Highlighting the key-tasks helps set the priorities right which in turn recasts your day into a structured plan instead of a haphazard one.
Every day to-do list lets you get your tasks done in a proper and well-organized manner.
Time-management, Organized behavior, a defined routine, a sense of self, effective results are some of the major benefits of having a habit of a to-do list.
Some people also use it in the form of calendars to structure their entire year. It helps them prioritize their goals, organize certain time-frames to work out their plans, and much more.
Many people use a basic journal to keep track of their habits or develop new habits to better their lifestyles.
Maintaining a diet and hydration chart has immense effects on health.
To keep a check on budget, a habit tracker is utterly beneficial. It helps you save more and spend less by letting you have the knowledge of what is necessary and what is not.
Apart from this, a habit tracker can be used to develop new habits.
By jotting down the things you need to achieve, let’s say waking up early, meditating, going for a walk, starting something new, and so forth gives more motivation to go for them rather than letting you procrastinate on them.
Journals for Inspiration/Ideas
We get inspired as soon as we read something interesting or see a picture on the internet. The ideas are sparked instantly in our minds by seeing someone else’s work or by reading a book or by just binging on youtube. But we tend to forget them as early as we jump on to do the next thing.
This is where your basic journal will help you.
Getting inspired by something and writing it down on your journal will remind you of it as many times as you will open your journal, tricking your mind into doing something about it.
Keeping a list of ideas is an effective way to give a creative start to whatever work you are doing. Be it writing, making a youtube video, working on a project, etc.
Learning something new and making highlights of important points lets you practice it more and more which in turn helps you retain it for a longer time or maybe for a lifetime.
Many people use a basic journal to keep a track of their moods, emotions, feelings on a daily basis which helps them a great deal.
Writing down about feelings is a proven way to boost mood instantly.
It is known to be one of the most effective ways to understand and monitor emotions, triggers, symptoms of psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, etc which in turn helps in improving the lifestyle.
Various studies show that tracking our mood cycles makes a person self-conscious, boosts self-awareness which leads to a better understanding of self.
Understanding our emotions and knowing all are the rationales behind the triggers help in opting for the things that can help better the situation.
Regular practice of maintaining a mood tracking journal brings positivity, a balanced emotional state, and induces self-introspection.
A habit of keeping a daily journal can help you in ways that would not even think. It improves our well-being, has a direct impact on health and happiness, gives us a bird’s eye view of our life, brings commitment and discipline into our lives, clears our thought process, boosts memory, and helps us accept several things that we tend to usually ignore.
Now the next few topics are going to be on how journaling helps people who face mental health issues.
But before this, I am going to take you through a few examples, in brief, to help you understand the power of journaling.
Matt D’AVelle, a famous YouTuber and an award-winning filmmaker filmed a video on “learning by journaling for 30-days”. The video shows him writing about his daily activities, emotions, moods, tasks, etc for 30 consecutive days.
He also reads to his viewers whatever he writes on it. For instance, one of his reads demonstrates how he was feeling that day which starts with a date followed by statements like
“ I don’t feel like cleaning the apartment, unpacking, or getting back to my work. My mind and body feel completely unsettled, there’s nervousness, tension, anxiety, I hate this feeling and it went ahead like that with some more feelings.
After having read that he says, the journal didn’t make everything better but it helped him to accept how he was feeling and stopped him from running away the thoughts he was having.
At the end of the video, he says that journaling has been a powerful tool to gain clarity when his mental health was not in a good state.
Although, He also says he didn’t like the process and it is not worthwhile to write every single day. But, that’s completely fine as things work differently for different people. But the point here is it turned out to be helpful.
From here it takes me to another example.
In the second example, the famous writer Robin Sharma shares, in one of his youtube videos, A few key points why one should use a journal.
The Points are summarised below:
It organizes mind & thoughts.
Trains your mind on something bigger and better which in turn boosts your confidence and inspires you with hope.
Allows you to relive and repeat your favorite experiences.
Imprints deliberate gratitude; Writing down about the things you are grateful for brings in more positivity and prosperity into your lives.
**This practice is mentioned in detail in the famous book “ The Magic” by Rhonda Byrne.
Exponentially learning sustainability.
The last and the 6th pointer is the most important one with respect to the topic “ Mental Well Being”
Journaling helps you process through and release low energy emotions.
Robin Sharma explains this by saying “ During my times in the darkness, where I was lost and hurting, one of the things that saved me was my journal.
Some days I would write for hours and hours, I would process the pain, I would process the disappointment, my confusion.”
And if you do not feel through and release the pain and disappointment, you will repress and suppress those low energy emotions and you will be stuck in the past unable to move forward.
And, so, he ends this by saying, “Journaling is a powerful tool to move forward through such difficult times”.
Now let’s move forward to see how journaling can help improve some of the mental health issues.
Journals can be used by anyone for recording their daily activities, maintaining their goals, tracking moods, and so on.
But for mental health patients, therapeutic journaling is a better way to improve their condition. Therapeutic journaling is a form of therapy that is also used by several therapists to treat their patients.
What is therapeutic Journaling?
Therapeutic Journaling is all about getting a sense of self by diving into our internal self a little deeper. The process is to analyze the emotions, feelings, thoughts, experiences, and then write them down.
Journal therapy is known to be one of the most effective ways to keep an eye on our mental health by tracking the behavior of our emotions, moods, feelings, and several other factors.
It helps you gain a better perspective, accept the situations, accept and understand the emotions. It further leads to growth, a sense of awareness about yourself.
Writing therapy is not something latest;
According to a Research paper by Pasquale G, Frisina, Joan C Borod, Stephen J Lepo, it started in 1942 by Witty and it was Pennebaker and Bealle in 1986 that provided scientific validity for the technique and came up with dozens of new studies.
The research showed that the subjects who wrote about their personal trauma had better health outcomes than the subjects who wrote about non-traumatic topics, thereby providing support to the notion that expression of emotion is a crucial part of good health and writing it down can facilitate this process.
It’s not an alternative to therapy or any mental illness treatments but it surely is one of the ways that can help your mental well being to a great extent.
Journal therapy can help people who deal with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD, grief, low self-esteem, etc.
How journaling helps people who deal with Mental Health Issues?
Writing your thoughts down on a journal is basically processing through them and once we process whatever we experience we tend to understand them better.
Writing therapy is key to declutter your mind. The more we process our thoughts or our emotions, the more we are able to explore ourselves and our reasons behind the way we feel.
Journaling helps us understand the pattern of our behavior, track down the triggers, identify what is it that causes annoyance, stress, fear, panic, etc.
Once we track down our problems, once we structure the pattern, it gives us the opportunity to formulate a plan on working through these problems and strengthening our mindset.
Journal therapy opens up a path to self-help behavior and finding stressbusters.
It is a practice that, if done consistently, can move you from an unhealthy negative space to a blissful positive one.
Writing helps in balancing and harmonizing life.
It brings stability by disentangling the thoughts and helps in letting go of the past.
It proffers a deeper level of learning and increases focus by clarifying thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
A few facts and studies:
One article from positivepsychology.com shows the following:
Journal presents you with the opportunity to create and consider the narrative of your life. (In a word, the benefits of journaling on recovery is “cathartic” (New Roads Treatment, 2017).
Journal increases optimism, happiness, and health. (Froh Sefick, & Emmons, psychologists)
Writing therapy helps you make progress toward your goals. (Emmons & Anjali Mishra, psychologists)
Being consistent with the gratitude journal can help reduce the symptoms of depression. (Seligman (psychologist & author), Steen, Park, & Peterson, psychologists)
Writing can help you process your enormous loss and reduce the symptoms of grief. This has been proven to be especially effective for children dealing with bereavement (Kalantari( clinical psychologists), Yule, Dyregrov, Neshatdoost, & Ahmadi, psychologists)
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, Writing down on a journal can help you stop neglecting the issues, encourage you to accept and confront your problems head-on, and reduce the obsessive component of your disorder (Rabinor, psychologist, author & psychotherapist).
If you are struggling with a debilitating psychiatric condition, journaling can help free up your mind to manage your emotions and cope with the stress that could trigger a relapse. (Provencher(a cognitive-behavioral therapy specialist), Gregg, Mead, & Mueser (executive director of the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation and a professor at Boston University)).
According to site Byrdie;
One study was conducted by James w. Pannebaker who currently chairs the psychology department at the University of Texas, Austin. The study included asking 46 college students to write for 15 minutes on 4 consecutive days. The practice was followed for 6 months straight and the results showed that their visits to their regular therapy were reduced and were now less often.
Self-understanding and self-awareness can get utterly complex sometimes. Thoughts can be overpowering and overwhelming, feelings can easily be misunderstood. Even the accustomed routine of our lives can be messed up sometimes.
To lead an organized and peaceful life, it is crucial that we heed the triggers, our behavior, feelings, insights, and events that usually slip our minds and affect us later on.
And, what better way than just writing down whatever and however we feel only to attain an unraveled life.
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