“Keeping a journal of what’s going on in your life is a good way to help you distill what’s important and what’s not.” – Martina Navratilova
Writing In A Journal
If you’re a person that suffers from anxiety or depression, trying to look past those negative emotions can be a daunting task. Especially when your goal is to find a healthier way to live.
Sometimes we just need to unload everything that’s on our shoulders, before we can really begin to process our emotions. Journaling can help to take that weight off your shoulders. It can also give you a safe place to write down those thoughts that you’d rather not speak about with others. It’s an area of contemplation, reflection, acknowledgement and soul-seeking. We can discover something new about ourselves and even steer our minds consciously towards a happier place with positive self-talk practices.
I can vouch for it, because writing in a journal has always been my secret tool for self-soothing and self-improvement.
So, what are the benefits?
Take Some Weight Off Those Shoulders
The first thing that you might notice if you begin maintaining a journal regularly is the pleasant feeling of having all of those heavy thoughts off your mind and on to paper. It can be exhausting to carry your concerns around with you for long periods of time, putting them on to paper can help to give you the ability to let go of them without dismissing those concerns entirely. You’re just putting them aside for another day and you don’t have to worry about forgetting them.
Are you the type of person that can lay awake at night, unable to sleep, because some pervasive worry or trouble won’t let you go?
During moments like these, having a journal to scribble in can be hugely beneficial for your mental health. Unload those thoughts so that you don’t have to keep running them through your mind on repeat over and over again. Anxiety loves repetition.
Gain A Healthier Perspective Of Your Situation
Sometimes when our thoughts are stored in our minds, they can be in all sorts of little pieces and in order to understand them coherently, we have to piece them all together. When you write your thoughts on to paper, it forces you to organize as you go and it often creates a much clearer picture of your situation then you had known before you wrote about it. It also gives us a better opportunity to reflect upon our troubles and to reflect back upon our way of thinking in the moment, and even in the future.
Self-reflection can be incredibly helpful when trying to understand ourselves better in the finer details. Yes, we all know ourselves to some degree, but fully understanding the inner workings of our minds can take a ton of insight and it doesn’t come easily. Some people will spend their entire lives never really understanding why they act or react in certain ways, they just do it because it feels natural. They don’t question it or look beneath the surface.
Use Journaling As An Opportunity to Practice Positive Self-Talk
One great thing about writing in a journal, is that if you are an anxious or negative person, it can be a great time to exercise more positive thinking habits. If you’re prone to anxiety or depression, than the odds are that you have a lot of negative self-talk going on inside. Fears about the future or fears about the past repeating itself may pervade your reality, or if you’re depressed, then you may just be convinced that nothing really matters. This kind of thinking can become habitual and the only way to shake it is to force yourself into an alternate mindset where you can exercise a different way of thinking. Journal time can offer an opportunity to practice that self-guided positive thinking.
Positive self-talk is the art of consciously shifting your focus from negativity to positivity, and not false dreamy positivity, but realistic optimism. Believe in yourself. Believe in your ability to overcome obstacles. Believe in the power that you have to change what you don’t like about your life. Then channel those beliefs through your self-directed talk. Even if it feels forced in the beginning, it will catch on and feel more natural with practice.
Imagine a friend came to you with all of their problems looking for some guidance and support. I imagine, that you would find words of encouragement and support to help them through their rough times, because we want to see the best in others. So, why do we forget to treat ourselves with the same words of encouragement some days?
We each need a strong sense of self-love in order to ever truly feel happy. We’re stuck with us for life, and no one wants to spend all day with a negative nancy. So, let’s work on that!
Write About The Good In Your Life As Well As The Bad
When it comes to writing in a journal, it’s important to try to balance out your thoughts between the positive and the negative. Writing can be an important tool for managing how to vent your stresses, but it’s also an opportunity to work towards consciously steering your thought patterns in a healthier and happier direction.
So besides just practicing your positive self-talk from time to time, be sure to record the moments in life that have made you smile. Those things that make you grateful to be alive and those people that warm your heart. Dreams? Goals? Aspirations? Write it all down. Hell, plan your goals out on paper, if you’re feeling ambitious.
Journal time can be an opportunity for growth time!
Be Sure To Ask Lots of Questions!
It’s important to note that I don’t mean you should start playing good cop/bad cop with yourself like a paranoid schizophrenic. If you feel like throwing hot coffee in your face while shining a bright light in your eyes, I acknowledge your desire, but I reject giving it my endorsement! Feel free to e-mail me about it though.
What I really mean, however, is that it’s useful while journaling to dig deeper than the surface. Rather than just saying you feel a certain way and being done with it, ask yourself why. Work backwards if you have to, and it can give you a deeper understanding of not just your feelings but your insecurities and motivations as well. You may reveal something over time that will help you with your healing process in the future.
Do you keep a journal? Why or why not? What has your experience been like?