When you’re stressed and you just can’t seem to get a grip on life, it’s time to try journaling. Recording your experiences and feelings in a journal can help you sort out your thoughts, manage your emotions, and maintain your mental health. Of course, for optimal stress relief it’s critical to follow positive behaviors like exercising, eating healthy, meditating, getting enough sleep, and avoiding drugs and alcohol. But if you’re doing all those things and you still need a boost, give journaling a try. It has some amazing health benefits.
Many of us have used a journal or diary at some point in our lives. What may have served as a reminder of junior high school crushes now has the power to reduce your stress and help you feel better. As you journal you may notice that it helps reduce your depression, stress, and anxiety. It does this by:
- Helping you sort out and face your problem and fears.
- Empowering yourself. You’ll begin to see yourself and your life through a new perspective. Journaling can help you redirect and refocus your thoughts.
- Helping you track and notice daily symptoms that may be triggered by something specific.
- Helping you identify negative self-talk and behavior.
- Improving your physical health. That’s right — journaling has been shown to help those with chronic conditions like asthma and arthritis.
- Helping you feel in control of your stress by working on a plan to feel better.
- Distancing yourself from negative thoughts or experiences. Once you write them down, it’s easier to let them go.
Unless you’re already a regular journal keeper, it might feel foreign to start journaling. You might even be wondering how, when, or what to write about. Get started with these tips:
- Don’t worry about what to write. Just write what you want. Write freely about events and people that affect your everyday life. Remember, no one is going to see your writing. This is for you.
- Write consistently. Ideally, this means you prioritize a time every day or every week when you can write. The more you do it, the more it’ll become a habit.
- Don’t box yourself in. You don’t need a spiralbound journal to be effective. Are you already on your computer? Start keeping a journal there during your lunch break. Do you only have time to journal while you’re running errands? Keep a notebook in your car or dictate your thoughts into your phone. Stop thinking that journaling has to happen in a particular way or on a specific medium.
- Your journal is yours. That means you can write what and how you want. Don’t worry that you have to share it unless you want to share. As you write regularly, you’ll find you begin to understand yourself better.
Your journal doesn’t just have to be about your day. You can write a daily gratitude journal where you outline the things you’re grateful for in your life. In contrast, a bullet journal that uses bulleted lists can help you set goals and move toward priorities.
When life feels crazy and you need an extra boost, journaling can help you refocus and de-stress. Journaling doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Even taking just 15 minutes to write an entry will help you sort out your worldview and refocus your everyday life. Whether you keep a journal on your computer or in a stack of memo pads next your bed, the act of writing down what you’re thinking and feeling can improve your mental and physical health. Start a journal today!