No matter your age, if you're feeling demotivated and empty, journalling can be a beneficial tool and can offer you some relief. While it cannot be considered a complete substitute for counselling, the regular insight exercise can reduce the number of session's needed.
Journalling allows you a deep dive into your thoughts and experiences. There is only you, without the embarrassment you can sometimes feel when talking to someone about your vulnerabilities. You can allow yourself to be completely honest, and while you are writing down your deepest secrets, these become less daunting and more approachable.
Journalling helps you gain different perspectives.
Journalling is about describing your thoughts, emotions and experiences, and it's not a mere recording of events. It's a deeper exploration of how you perceived those events, the feelings, your expectation and interpretation. All this allows you to make sense of your story.
Allowing yourself to express your emotion, even if in writing, helps you working them through and moving forward.
“Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.”
How to keep an emotion journal
While there are no right or wrong ways to keep a journal, here are some guidelines that may help you understand the task:
Find your quiet nook to write.
Find a place where you can sit quietly and write if that place is also your favourite corner, even better! Ensure you won't be disturbed by others and switch your devices off.
Try to make it become a daily habit.
Fifteen minutes of daily writing allow you to discover how you function emotionally and take action if it's needed. On the other side, writing only when you are in the midst of an emotional hurricane can enhance its strength and not be very helpful.
Fixing a certain time daily increases the chance that your commitment to journalling holds.
Make little notes during the day.
When something brings up complicated emotions, such as sadness, shame, guilt, anger, take little notes before you forget about it.
“Keeping a journal of what’s going on in your life is a good way
to help you distil what’s important and what’s not.”
And now the fun begins!
Dig into your notes and start writing about something you feel relevant, may it be a positive or negative experience. Give the focus to your feelings:
How did it start?
How did it feel?
Where did you feel it?
Was it intense?
Did it change over time?
The feeling wheel can help in this process.
Spend a few minutes exploring your thoughts and feelings about the experience you want to write about. Begin to write and let the flow of writing leading you; the outcome can be different as the one expected, new ideas may show up, and that's perfectly okay!
Write without focusing on spelling or grammar; the concern should be the content.
If your mind goes blank and you don't know what to write
Here are some prompts for your journalling:
Which are your first memories involving emotions?
Which is the best experience you ever had, and how did it feel?
Write a letter to yourself at the age of ten.
Write five positive things to remember the next time you're in a negative spot.
List 10 things that make you smile, no matter what.
Write a letter of forgiveness to someone who has caused you pain in the past.
Write a letter of forgiveness to yourself.
How would your perfect day be? Which feelings are involved?
Write to someone who was important to you but is not in your life anymore (focus on the feelings)
What will change for you in the next six months? Will your feelings change as well?
Who is essential in your life now and why?
What would you like to change in your life? (focus on the feelings)
“Journaling is paying attention to the inside for the purpose of living well from the inside out.” Lee Wise
Does journalling help to improve mental health conditions?
Journalling can offer some relief to people experiencing symptoms of:
However, it is important to note that journalling cannot be considered an alternative to counselling.
If your distress involves past traumatic experiences, you should approach journalling with caution. In that case, if not undertaken under professional supervision, journalling can increase the discomfort experienced.
If you would like to use a journal to relieve your inner pain, it's best to discuss this in therapy first, as it can be often used as a tool to complement the talking therapies.
Benefits of journalling
As said, under certain circumstances, journalling helps improve physical and psychological wellbeing in various ways:
Keeping a record of your emotional development
Remind yourself how far you've come
Make sense of your thoughts and experiences
Adapting your story in a way that is meaningful to you
It helps recognise patterns
It provides a chance for self-reflection
Enables you to gain different perspectives
Reduces intrusive thoughts
Decreases the avoidance of negative thoughts
Improves working memory
“Journal writing, when it becomes a ritual for transformation,
is not only life-changing but life-expanding.”
Keeping a journal is also a great way to strengthen your mindfulness and self-reflection skills, if done correctly, the benefits of journalling outweigh the drawbacks.
And finally, journalling is an effective method to help you handle your stress, deal with some mental illness symptoms, and it can be added as a tool to recover from trauma. There is no need to be a writer to benefit from writing. All you need is a pen and paper. Give it a try! All you have to lose is a few minutes daily in exchange for many benefits.
If the emotions you are experiencing are too strong and you find it challenging to cope with them, and writing seems not to help, stop writing and seek help. Many free lines are offering 24h support.
If you have still questions about journalling, feel free to contact me.