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Self Care Series Part 1: Journaling

By Rachel Parodneck LMSW

Why should you try journaling?
Many people are at first resistant to journaling. The stigma surrounding journaling may stem from thoughts of hormonal teenagers writing in their diaries. Adults don’t journal! Or do they?

Journaling helps people, especially those with depression and anxiety to cope with life and their symptoms more effectively. It can be used as a tool for those who are in therapy to augment the effectiveness and track symptoms between sessions. An article in positive psychology listed many key benefits to journaling, particularly for those with depression and anxiety.

Writing in a journal can positively impact your mental health through:

  1. Calming and clearing your mind;
  2. Releasing pent-up feelings and everyday stress;
  3. Letting go of negative thoughts;
  4. Exploring your experiences with anxiety;
  5. Writing about your struggles and your successes;
  6. Enhancing your self-awareness and teaching you about your triggers;
  7. Tracking your progress as you undergo treatment.

This article also delves in-depth about how journaling is useful for all types of medical and mental health conditions. https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-journaling/

So how do you get started?

Kara Mayer Robinson at WebMd suggests letting it all out by free associating, which means writing whatever comes into your mind onto the page. Write regularly, even if only for 5 minutes. Try new things. Write letters to yourself. Write to loved ones who are no longer with you. Don’t get too negative: put a cap on the amount of time you spend writing down your negative thoughts. And last, Set yourself up for success: keep a pen and paper handy.

Journaling, as a stress management and self-exploration tool, works best when done consistently, but even occasional, sporadic journaling can be stress relieving when the practice is focused on gratitude or emotional processing.

You can buy pre-made journals. Some of them include writing prompts. Others incorporate dates. Or, you can just use a notebook to keep your journal. It doesn’t have to be fancy.

One journal our therapists like in particular is the Five Minute Journal which can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Five-Minute-Journal-Gratitude-Happiness/dp/0991846206/ref=redir_mobile_desktop?ie=UTF8&aaxitk=yKV9YTN3KTUN49HIboq.8w&hsa_cr_id=9266458130101&ref_=sbx_be_s_sparkle_mcd_asin_0

This journal has a daily, guided format, which lists gratitude and functions similarly to a planner.

Never underestimate the power of bringing your journal in to your therapy session. It can help your therapist gain insight into the inner workings of your mind and may trigger memories you may not have otherwise thought to bring up.

If you don’t have a therapist, there’s never been a better time to book an appointment than now with Refresh Psychotherapy.

References:

Ackerman, C. (2020). 83 Benefits of Journaling for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress. Postive Psychology. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-journaling/

Robinson, K. M. (2017). How writing in a journal helps manage depression. WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/depression/features/writing-your-way-out-of-depression#1

Scott, E. (2018). The benefits of journaling for stress management. Very Well Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/the-benefits-of-journaling-for-stress-management-3144611