Jot it Down: the Mental Health Benefits of Journaling

Did you know that therapists often team up with a sidekick for help with improving their client’s mental health? It doesn’t wear spandex or have a superhero name, though! It also doesn’t even require a prescription. Therapists often recommend that their patients use journals to record their thoughts. Journals are some of the best tools that you can use for improving your mental health, and have several benefits when used regularly. Here are some reasons why the habit of journaling is so beneficial. 

Track Mental Health Symptoms

Whether or not you’ve been officially diagnosed with a mental illness, journals can be very helpful in tracking symptoms that you are experiencing over time. This is why psychologists and therapists ask their patients to use them so frequently. It is often difficult for us to notice subtle changes in our behaviors and attitudes that might indicate a problem. If we are able to reflect regularly, it becomes more apparent when something is “off.” A journal may even reveal symptoms of a physical illness, as well, since they often affect our moods, attitudes, and energy levels. When you’re aware of changes in these traits, you can investigate why they are occurring. 

Understand Yourself Better 

Many people think of journals as a place to record their day-to-day activities in order to review later on, but that’s not all it can be. Journals not only record our thoughts about our schedules, but also what we think about ourselves, our priorities, and our relationships. Try to view your journal as a safe space to explore everything that’s on your mind. How you use it is up to you. If you read or hear a quote that inspires you, jot it down! You could fill it with seemingly random thoughts if you wanted. Some people even combine their writing with drawing and scrapbooking. There’s nothing that says a journal has to be structured in any particular way.  Enjoy making your journal your own!

A Place to Practice Positive Self-Talk

If you do actually want to use your journal in a structured way, there is one suggestion we can make. When you start your journal, set out to make it a safe space not just for your thoughts, but for your own well-being. Use it as a place to practice speaking about yourself in a positive way. When you feel like writing negative things about yourself, write instead about the reasons you might feel those ways toward yourself, as if you were a therapist asking yourself questions in a counseling session. Take moments in your journaling to build your self-esteem with things like listing your skills or what your favorite personality traits are. Just like a practice of gratitude can help you foster a healthy mindset, speaking positively about yourself in a journal can boost your self-esteem in the rest of your life, too!