Mindfulness and Thought Records - Journaling for Mental Health Management
We all have mental health. Throughout our lives, our mental wellbeing can shift and change, and so, we need to understand how our minds work and how to cope when a negative thought strikes. Mental health management means having the tools to manage the everyday challenges of living with mental illness, so that you can live your life to the fullest and achieve all of your life-goals.
What is Mental Health Management?
It’s important not to rush mental health recovery. Ill mental health can spread through every aspect of a person's life. Alongside support from local mental health services, it helps to build in strategies to manage mental health in day to day life. Emotional triggers can crop up at any time and leave you feeling anxious and stressed, so journaling for mental health management is a key skill to develop.
Even during times of strong mental wellbeing, understanding how to use journaling in a daily planner to manage unhelpful thinking patterns can have a real positive impact on your life. Mental health management recognises that with mental health recovery, there are good days and bad days, and that recovering doesn't mean magically making your anxieties disappear.
Journaling and Thought Records For Mental Health
Thought records are a core part of mental health management, particularly for people with OCD and anxiety. Thought records encourage us to recognise our thoughts for what they are: thoughts.
Often, even during mental health recovery, we let our thoughts go unexamined. I think, therefore I am. We might have a negative thought about ourselves, or about something happening to a loved one. The thought might be completely unrealistic, but when we’re going through a difficult time, negative thoughts can take over and spiral out of control. When journaling for mental health management, using thought records can help you to scrutinize your thoughts and put them into perspective.
To keep thought records in your daily planner, you need to record several things:
The Intrusive Thought - What was the initial thought that distressed you?
The Circumstances - What was happening at the time? What was your frame of mind?
The Reaction - How did you feel? What did you do?
The Facts - Look at both the for and against of the thought. What evidence goes against your negative thoughts? What supports it?
The Future - How do you feel now you have examined the thoughts in more detail? How would you react to the same situation in future?
Thought records can be very helpful for mental health recovery, as you can question negative thoughts that have gone unchecked. However, it’s important to use thought records in balance. When you’ve examined your thoughts once, don’t re-examine them again, as this can lead you into a trap of obsessive thinking. If you find it difficult to view your thoughts in perspective after using a thought record, it may mean that you need more one-to-one support. Journaling should never replace therapy, but it works to support you through your recovery journey.
Mindfulness and Thought Records For Journaling
Mindfulness can help with mental health management in several ways, before, during and after you experience negative thoughts or panic attacks. Fit mindfulness into your daily routines as part of your mental health recovery, whether through paying close attention to your surroundings or writing mindfully in a daily planner. This builds your mindfulness skills, so you understand the ins and outs of the techniques before managing your thoughts.
Practicing mindfulness can make a big difference when an intrusive thought strikes. This doesn’t mean forcing thoughts out of your mind, as this can be next to impossible. With mindfulness, you accept the presence of your thoughts, and fully acknowledge the way they make you feel. Allow the anxieties to wash over you without trying to challenge them.
Remind yourself that they are not based in reality, and continue onwards. If you are able to, focus on your breathing or surroundings. If the thoughts return, don’t try to challenge them. Simply acknowledge them, and continue with what you are doing.
Mental health recovery is an ongoing process, and it doesn’t come overnight. Using mindfulness and thought records in a daily planner can help you to reject unhelpful thoughts and boost your mood. Journaling in a daily planner about your mindfulness is a calming, self-affirming process that takes power away from intrusive thoughts and back to you.