A journal is a great place to capture daily thoughts and observations, set goals or plan ahead, but it can also be a helpful tool to untangle deep emotions and feelings, and to validate and help us make sense of them. Reflective writing then fosters our mental wellness. The University of Rochester Medical Center has published several articles on how journalling can help manage anxiety, reduce stress and cope with depression:. “Journaling helps control your symptoms and improve your mood by helping you prioritize problems, fears, and concerns; tracking any symptoms day-to-day so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them; and providing an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts and behaviors.”
If you want to begin a journalling practice but don’t know how, here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Set the tone
We all lead busy lives, but it’s important to carve out special time for journalling. Find a quiet space and set the mood for reflective writing with some incense, candles or a cup of tea.
2. Decide on the style
Journalling can be done in many different ways, so try a few to see what works best for you. It can be writing a letter to yourself, or using prompts to answer questions such as things you are grateful for or specific memories you want to revisit. There’s also stream of consciousness writing where you write down whatever comes to mind non-stop for about three minutes.
3. Let go of perfection
There’s no right or wrong way to journal reflectively. Writing is for yourself, so forget about correct grammar or spelling. This is a safe place where the only rule is to just be honest with your feelings.
4. Make it a habit
Research shows that the optimal benefits are derived from journalling if you do it consistently for about 20 minutes a day. Whether it’s setting a daily intention or closing the day with a reflection, be sure to make journalling as regular a part of your routine as possible.
Do you have any other tips for using your journal for mental wellness? We’d love to hear them in the comments.