How to Use a Journal for the Mind and Improve Mental Health
The mind is complex, and there is no one solution to the mental health struggles many of us face during our lives. Alongside professional support from mental health services, there are wellbeing techniques we can build into our routines to boost our mental wellbeing. One of these is journaling, the process of writing in a daily journal about anything from our feelings to scheduling our daily goals. So, how should you use a journal for the mind?
Can Journaling Be Therapeutic for the Mind
The answer is a clear ‘yes’. Journaling has consistently been recognised for its mental health benefits. While it’s important not to use journaling as your sole mental health support, it can be an immense help with mental health recovery.
Journaling is therapeutic in your daily life. When you need to relax, focus your mind, and give your mood a good boost, writing in a journal for the mind for only 10-15 minutes is enough to feel the benefits. Journaling is therapeutic for the mind, because you can explore worries that have been bothering you, plan out strategies to work on your anxieties or phobias, and express gratitude for your mental health achievements.
How to Use a Journal for the Mind for Mental Health Recovery
One of the best ways to use a journal for the mind is to explore your thoughts with a thought record. Record any intrusive anxiety thoughts as they arise, and examine why these thoughts trigger your anxiety. You can use thought records in a journal to find ways to cope with anxiety thoughts.
If you are struggling with a particular anxiety or fear, you can examine this thought in even more detail through freewriting. Freewriting is a type of writing where you write without correcting yourself. Let your thoughts flow onto the page from your subconscious. Write about how the thoughts make you feel, where you think they stem from, and what you feel needs to be done to manage them. Interacting with the thoughts, rather than passively accepting them can help you to overcome them.
You can also use a journal for the mind to create a strategy to reach your mental wellbeing goals. Perhaps there's something you would like to do, but feel you can’t due to ill mental health. Start by plotting out the first step you feel ready to try. For example, you might not feel ready to go to a concert yet, because of social anxiety. But you might feel ready to walk into town to get used to the sensation of being around other people. The best way to reach these goals is to work towards them over time.
Why Gratitude Journaling Works for the Mind
Gratitude journaling is one of the best journaling techniques for mental health recovery. Not only does it retrain your mind to notice all the big and small positives in your daily life, but it also helps you adapt those positives to other aspects of your life.
At the end of each day, record three things you feel grateful for. It might be a person who made your day special, a meal you ate, a place you visited. Express your feelings of gratitude in the journal, then consider how you can use these positive aspects of your life to improve your mental wellbeing. If a particular place makes you feel relaxed and happy, you could make a note to visit before or after doing something that makes you anxious, or even take a virtual walk through your mind’s eye.
To use a journal for the mind, you need to be consistent. Mental health recovery doesn’t come overnight - it works through reinforcement. The more you record your thoughts in your journal, the more you create strategies, the more you express gratitude for the positives in your life - the more your mental health will flourish. Rather than rushing the process and setting yourself back, use journaling to give your mind the space and time to recover gradually.