Journaling gives us an opportunity to ‘dump’ our thoughts, feelings and emotions somewhere private, somewhere safe. It creates a space for us to be truly authentic – knowing that what we think/feel won’t be criticized or judged by anyone else.
Having such a private experience can be quite healing as we sit in the present moment, embracing the stillness around us while we offload our worries, thoughts, feelings or experiences.
There have been some studies conducted over the past decades which have shown that certain journaling practises can help and positively impact on a variety of outcomes, including goal attainment and levels of happiness (The power of Journaling; can journaling help us cope during troubled times? Psychology Today, David B. Feldman Ph.D. 2020).
By externalising our thoughts and feelings through journaling, we have less ‘stuff’ to ‘carry around’ psychologically. Through journaling, you can look back to notice and reflect on how much you’ve developed. (Discover 8 Journaling Techniques for Better Mental Health’ Learn new ways to journal so you can reduce stress and increase self-awareness. Stephanie A. Sarkis Ph.D. 2020).
Benefits of journaling:
- Creates an opportunity to offload worries, negative thoughts or feelings
- Assists in alleviating stress and anxiety
- Helps to put thoughts/feelings/emotions into perspective
- Allows you to detach or defuse from painful thoughts
- Helps you to slow down, allowing you to embrace more mindful moments
- Helps to cease ruminating thoughts or worries
- Acts as a type of record keeping, through tracking events or experiences you can increase your awareness of triggers
- Provides an opportunity for positive self-talk and reflection
Here is a link to a great article outlining some further benefits of journaling for mental health in addition to providing some ideas and tips on how you can introduce the practise: https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-journaling/
What we can journal about:
- Negative thoughts, feelings or emotions
- Different interactions or experiences
- Reflections from the day/week
- Moments of gratitude
- New learnings or opportunities for personal growth
When best to journal:
You can journal at anytime and anywhere! However, to really experience journaling as a mindfulness practice, I would recommend selecting a time in the day whereby you feel you have the time and space to be reflective and authentic. Not rushed, not pressed for time, not distracted by people or experiences around you. For some, it might be first thing in the morning, accompanied by a cup of herbal tea or coffee. For others, it might be at night before bed, sitting quietly reflecting on the day.
Baikie and Wilhelm (2005) recommend the following strategies to ensure your journaling is constructive:
Journal in a personalised and private environment, with minimal distraction
Journal 3-4 times / experience and aim to keep your writing consecutive (i.e. writing at least once/day)
Allow moments to reflect after journaling
If you’re journaling to overcome trauma, you don’t need to focus on the specific events or experience. Journal about what feels right for you in the moment
There is no set structure, write however it feels right for you
Your journal is for your eyes only, keep it private.
There is no right or wrong way to journal, however if you’re feeling a little stuck or unsure how to start or structure your journal entry, here are some helpful prompts.
Happy reflective writing everyone!
Yours in wellness,