Many of us begin a journaling habit at a young age. Maybe it’s a mandatory homework assignment in elementary school, or a way to cope with the drama of middle school. Whatever we used a journal for, a lot of us drop the habit as we enter into adulthood. It’s time consuming and can be hard to remember if it’s not cemented into your daily routine. But as we navigate our busy and stressful lives as adults, journaling can benefit us now more than ever. Here are three of the mental health benefits of keeping a journal.
1. It helps put your thoughts into words.
Sometimes journaling allows us to identify thoughts, feelings and emotions we have that we couldn’t quite articulate. At any given moment, our minds are cluttered with so many thoughts and that can be a factor in stress. These thoughts can feel more organized and easier to cope with when we take the time to write them down.
For people who function best in organized environments, this can be a way to sort through situations, identify thought patterns and free up some mental space.
2. It can ease symptoms of anxiety.
According to mental health professionals, journaling can be a powerful way to “distance yourself” from your emotions – a coping mechanism for people who are often overwhelmed by anxious or sad feelings.
According to author Jacobs in Writing for Emotions, distancing from emotions is important because “You can’t see or understand something if you are right in the middle of it.” When you journal, you remove yourself from the situation and gain some clarity. For many, this helps take the emotion out of things for a minute and eases anxiety that comes from overwhelming thoughts.
3. It can help ward off depression and put you in a positive mindset.
Aside from gaining clarity on the problems in your life, journaling can also be used to help you see the good. Many people practice gratitude journaling, which is shown to have great benefits. Gratitude boosts your mood and is believed to bring even more blessings to you because you’re open to receiving them. When you take the time to acknowledge the blessings in your life, you can’t help but feel great after it. For this reason, gratitude journaling is a great addition to your daily morning routine.
Why not give journaling a try? As you sip your morning coffee, or get ready for bed at night, try taking five minutes to go for one of these tactics. Your mental health will thank you!