Journaling has a ton of benefits to coping with mental health challenges. Journaling is a coping skill that I personally have found myself turning back to time and time again in my mental health journey. Doodles, misspelled and smudged words are welcomed as it enhances the experience.
The reason I journal is because it relaxes me. Journaling permits me to release my emotions without fear of judgement. I let my emotions pour out onto the page – good or bad. Which is healing to give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling in the moment. It’s a form of meditation because it allows you time to reflect on your day or things that you could be dealing with emotionally. Writing about something that I am struggling with allows me to slow down and take time to process what life can throw at you and deal with those feelings in a comfortable and safe way.
Journaling can help you feel more – you. Creative writing allows you to understand yourself. In my mental health journey, I have struggled with a sense of self. I would constantly ask myself “Who am I?” and “What do I want out of life?” While I realized these are some hefty questions to be asking myself, I didn’t even really know where to begin to answer questions like that. Through journaling, I discovered that I am constantly changing and so are the answers to those big questions. So it’s okay to not always have the answers right away and it takes time to learn about yourself, your needs, and the world around you.
I have found that being able to write down and reflect on my thoughts gives me confidence to speak my mind. A common obstacle for people struggling with mental health symptoms, myself included, is being able to voice our opinions. Journaling lets me practice speaking up because I can explore my opinions about something without feeling like I’m on stage. It just takes the pressure off having to immediately understand my thoughts on a particular subject or I can dig deeper as to why I do feel a certain way. I don’t just do this with big issues either. Sometimes I will just write about random things like music or books in order to feel comfortable about forming an opinion and expressing it. I am often surprised at what I discover about myself. Over time, I think it gets easier to express myself to others because it’s been practiced in my journaling.
If you have journaled before and found it difficult to get into, I suggest doing a bullet journal. A bullet journal is different from regular journaling because it can be just quick sentences or a way to organize your thoughts. When I bullet journal, I usually draw a little happy face or sad face depending on my mood for the day. Then I will just jot down short sentences about my mood or symptoms. I also write down things that may have affected my mood like the weather or how much sleep I got. It’s a tool to recognize my feelings and be able to track them. Sometimes I will share my journal with my doctors so they can better understand what is going on with me. If you have never journaled before, I suggest giving it a go. You will find how to make journaling work for you. For me, it’s the combination of free writing, drawing, and bullet journaling. Journaling is a custom way to express yourself, thoughts, emotions, and moods. It has helped me in my mental health journey and I believe it could help others experiencing mental health symptoms too.