Maybe you kept a journal when you were younger. You would write down your deepest, darkest secrets, or just what happened that day, and for some reason after journaling you would feel better. There’s a reason that so many people find journaling to be relaxing. Research has found that journaling can boost your mood, enhance your sense of well-being, reduce symptoms of depression, reduce intrusion and avoidance symptoms after a traumatic event, and can improve your working memory.

As an adult, can be used to release pent up emotions and tension. You don’t have to buy a fancy, expensive journal to begin writing. You can go to your local grocery store or pharmacy and pick up a composition notebook. Begin by writing whatever is on your mind. There are no rules to writing in a journal; it’s purely a space for you. The following are some tips to help you start journaling:

  • Write in a private and personalized space that is free from distractions;
  • Write at least three or four times, and aim for writing consecutively (i.e., at least once each day);
  • Give yourself some time to reflect and balance yourself after writing;
  • If you’re writing to overcome trauma, don’t feel obligated to write about a specific traumatic event—journal about what feels right in the moment;
  • Structure the writing however it feels right to you;
  • Keep your journal private; it’s for your eyes only—not your spouse, not your family, not your friends, not even your therapist (although you can discuss your experience with your therapist, of course!).

If you’re having difficulty coming up with ideas of what to write about, the following mental health related prompts to begin your daily entry:

  • What is the biggest struggle you face with your mental health?
  • What subtle signs do you feel when you’re starting to really struggle?
  • What scares you the most about your mental health?
  • Are there any things your mental health stops you from doing? How can you creatively work around that?
  • Do you feel like you have enough support? If the answer is no, what are some ways you can start building your support system?
  • What things have you achieved in spite of your mental health struggles?
  • What are three things you can start doing that will benefit your mental health?
  • What positive lessons have your mental health struggles taught you?
  • What unhealthy coping mechanisms do you use and how can you replace them?
  • Make a list of all of your coping mechanisms in the order of how much they help you.
  • What are your favorite ways to self-soothe?
  • Look at yourself from an outside point of view – evaluate yourself and your mental health and then give yourself some loving advice and suggestions.

By:  Marion R. White, MHC-LP