Journaling has been proven to be an effective tool for combatting symptoms of depression, anxiety, and improving overall mental health. But, unfortunately, many of us may have journaled when we were younger and then abandoned the practice as we got older, busier, and perhaps less interested. You may even believe that the introspective nature of journaling encourages a sort of self-centeredness inappropriate in adulthood.
However, journaling is simply a tool. There are as many different ways of journaling as there are people who choose to journal. But the consensus is clear: journaling is good for us. Study after study shows it. Writing expressively can improve cancer patients’ psychological and physiological health, enhance marital satisfaction, and even boost employment rates among job searchers.
Considering all the benefits of a regular journaling habit, it is worth trying out or revisiting as part of positive self-care. At Fort Behavioral Health, our dual diagnosis treatment program uses journaling for mental health to help people to heal.
The Benefits of Journaling for Mental Health
So, why do we at Fort Behavioral Health believe so strongly in journaling for mental health? Simply put, it’s because of the benefits that people typically experience as they use journaling techniques for mental health. Some of these benefits include:
- Helps you manage your emotions – Journaling about your feelings helps you identify your emotions, identify the triggers for those emotions, and take action around the emotions.
- Improves communication skills – Writing is a form of communication. Often, the most difficult things to communicate are the emotions we experience internally. Journaling teaches you how to articulate your thoughts and feelings, even if you think you are just free-writing.
- Makes you feel more comfortable talking about certain subjects – This can enhance your willingness and ability to share your thoughts and feelings with loved ones.
- Allows you to set and achieve goals – If you have a goal in mind, journaling helps you work out the details around that goal. It encourages you to keep yourself accountable and teaches you that no goal is too overwhelming when you take it one day, one step at a time.
- Enhances your problem-solving skills – By writing about your problems, you gain a new perspective on them. You start to notice certain patterns and trends. You start to see where they may have started and where they may go. With this level of clarity, you may find solutions to problems you would not have thought of otherwise.
- Increases creativity and curiosity – Although journaling is an introspective, solitary act, we do not exist in a vacuum. We are always interacting with the world and engaging with other people. These experiences, the impressions they leave, and the decisions we make around them will inevitably make their way into our writing. As a result, you may find yourself looking outside of yourself with more curiosity and finding new ways of expressing what you see.
- Builds self-discipline – Habits are difficult to break. It requires patience, perseverance, and focus. However, by successfully practicing self-discipline in this area of your life, you may find it easier to build self-discipline in other areas as well.
- Reduces the stress of trauma – Researchers have found that writing about trauma and the thoughts and feelings surrounding trauma help people process their experiences. For example, women who participated in writing exercises showed greater reductions in PTSD symptoms, depression, and anxiety. The same was true for another study examining the effects of journaling on women with a history of childhood sexual abuse.
- Strengthens physical health – By improving overall mental health, journaling also improves physiological health. Some notable physical benefits of journaling include improved memory, better sleep, lower blood pressure, and a stronger immune system.
The numerous benefits of journaling, coupled with addiction therapy, have made this an effective tool for recovery.
Tips for Journaling
Of course, our Fort Behavioral Health team will provide guidance and support for your journaling process. But, our team wanted to also share some tips that may help you feel more confident in your journaling ability. Remember, there is no wrong way to write, but some tips that may maximize the effectiveness of journaling include:
- Use a pen and paper – We live in a digital society, so it would make sense to write your journal entries on your phone, tablet, or laptop. However, using pen and paper when journaling for mental health allows your thoughts to flow more freely. Plus, using a pen and paper eliminates the possible distractions of having access to the internet.
- Write every day – The key to journaling for mental health is the quantity and not necessarily quality. The more that you write, the more comfortable you will be with the process. You will also find that your thoughts come more easily with daily practice.
- Write about your current state of mind – One of the foundational journaling techniques for mental health is to write about your current thoughts and feelings. There is definitely value in reflecting on the past. Yet, it is more effective for your mental health to focus on the present and future.
Get Started with Journaling Today at Fort Behavioral Health
Journaling is a cheap and accessible way of improving your mental health. It is easy to work into your self-care routine and can even be used in tandem with mental health therapy. At Fort Behavioral Health, we encourage people to implement journaling as part of their self-care routines. Learn more by calling 844.332.1807 or completing our online form today.