8 easy benefits of journaling for mental health

Feminine desk workspace with modern touch screen laptop and pink and rose gold accessories on marble top table. Accompanies the blog post on the benefits of journaling for mental health

The calming effect of journaling on mental health

I can understand that journaling can help mental health. Having practiced journaling myself I can attest to the benefits of journaling for mental health including the ability to calm my nerves, help order my thoughts and give my feelings of frustration/sadness/worry/doubt a place to go rather than stay in my head.

And maybe you are the same too. Or maybe you want to be able to experience the calming effects of journaling on your mental health.

In which case, read on for ways in which you can calm your body without using a timer, or putting you under time pressure. This blog post is a gentle exercise for the mind.

We have other blog posts that will help you journal around mental health issues you may have. For example:

16 different ways to journal for your mental health

Prioritising your wellness with bullet journal mental health spreads

Journaling prompts for depression and strategies to cope better

5 simple reasons to keep a journal that improve your mental health

Don’t ‘challenge’ yourself to journal for mental health

Pink and marble cover journal with coloured pencils. Accompanies the blog post on the benefits of journaling for mental health

In terms of the benefits of journaling for mental health I think that this ‘challenge’ terminology is not helpful. When you are in a state of anxiety or high distress or turmoil you don’t need yet another ‘challenge’ to overcome. You need something soothing and reassuring.

So in this blog post I want to address ways in which you can journal for mental health which are calming to the body, and which don’t put you in a state of panic because you have to set a timer, write for 20 minutes, challenge yourself, push yourself and turn what should be a delightful, peaceful activity into a mental obstacle course.

Benefits of journaling for mental health

Being in a high state of anxiety can jumble your thoughts and make everything seem completely overwhelming. One of the main benefits of journaling for mental health is that you can process your thoughts and emotions in a kind, gentle way. Here are 8 benefits of journaling for mental health.

8 benefits of journaling for mental health

1. Order your thoughts

Journaling can help you order your thoughts, and separate the important issues from the less important. In this way you can identify what fears, problems and concerns are really affecting you rather than feeling overwhelmed by everything.

2. Maintain a balanced, ordered mind

By journaling regularly, the repetition of writing, thinking and ordering your thoughts can become not only a stepping stone to recovery but also the means by which you are able to maintain a balanced ordered mind.

3. Ability to detach from your thoughts

Journaling can create a barrier between you and your thoughts which helps you detach from your thoughts, take a step back and observe them from a distance. This will give you space and time to work out what your are thinking and why.

4. Create a positive dialogue with yourself

By journaling regularly you can create a positive dialogue with yourself. Rather than being mired in doubt and indecision you will be able to trust yourself because of the relationship you are developing with yourself. Trusting yourself and developing a positive dialogue with yourself are part of your journey to a healthy mind.

5. Resolve historical issues and problems

Journaling also allows you to detach and resolve historical issues which may still plague you. Being able to let go of the past with kindness and compassion is a positive step forward in being able to embrace today and the future.

6. Clear mental clutter

Journaling also helps clear the mental clutter. As long as our brains are running smoothly and we are not faced with too many obstacles, our mental health is going to be good. As soon as clutter starts appearing on the horizon, the brain starts to get extremely stressed. Too much mental clutter leads to overwhelm. Faced with too much overwhelm, the brain will just shut down.

7. Create Clarity

Journaling helps create clarity where there is currently confusion. When you are able to get to a state of clarity your brain will thank you as it is able to relax. When the brain is relaxed you will be relaxed.

8. Insight into your thought patterns

And finally, journaling can give you an inside look into your thought patterns and behaviours which you may currently be oblivious to.

Abstract background in red, pink, orange and yellow.
Accompanies the blog post on the benefits of journaling for mental health

Different types of journals and how they can benefit your mental health

Keep different types of journals to address different issues and subjects in your life. You don’t have to restrict yourself to just one journal type either. You could, for example, create an art journal to journal creatively and artistically, and you could also have a daily journal in which you journal about your daily life. Read through the list below and decide for yourself what you might like to try.

List of journal types that can aid journaling for mental health

One of the great benefits of journaling for mental health is that you are creating your own space around you that is safe and unjudgmental and joyful to you. You don’t really need to create any particular type of journal at all, you just need to create that safe space for yourself. So consider these different types of journals and ask yourself if this or that type of journal would be a good way for you to be able to create that safe and delightful space for yourself.

Daily Log Journal

Check in with yourself every day and create a new habit by keeping a daily log of your thoughts and emotions. If you want to keep a new habit or are a habit-oriented person then a daily log is a great way to go. You could also keep a daily log for a certain period of time. Creating an easy routine is definitely one of the benefits of journaling for mental health. Anything that you can do that creates consistency coupled with a high feel good factor, which also releases endorphins, such as a daily log, is great self -therapy.

For example, commit to one month. After that time you can assess if you want or need to continue with this method.
You can also use a daily log as a quick way of assessing your thoughts. Use it to create short entries for five minutes each day and then you are finished. You don’t need to burden yourself with creating a journal for hours every day.

Deep Dive Journal

This is a deeper form of writing that focuses on the feelings and problems you are experiencing. The idea is to write in detail what you are feeling, why do you feel that way, what you think the cause could be, some solutions for those problems, and so forth.

It is important to explore all aspects of your emotions and evaluate different perspectives of the situation. This self-awareness will help you grow positively.

Morning Pages

The concept of morning pages is quite simple: 3 pages of longhand stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.

The idea is to get out anything you are thinking about first thing in the morning, this will clear your mind so you are ready to be more centred and focused for the day. This helps in starting your day right.

Three pages might seem daunting, I know it would be for me as well. If you struggle with three pages, maybe start with one page first and then work your way up as you build the habit.

Abstract background like a paint splodge. Accompanies the blog post on the benefits of journaling for mental health

Gratitude Journal

One of the benefits of a gratitude journal when you are journaling for mental health is that it focuses your mind on parts of your life where you can be grateful.

A gratitude journal may only contain small things for which you are grateful, but building up a practice of writing them down each day and noticing that you have more to give thanks for than you realise is a great practice to establish.

One Sentence Journal

If you are short of time, or have difficulty writing an extensive amount, the one sentence journal could be for you.

If you could write one sentence that reflected how you feel, or what is on your mind, or what is distracting you from enjoying your day what would it be? These small, individual sentences highlight one of the benefits of journaling for mental health which is that it doesn’t have to be difficult!

Journaling for mental health is not over complicated. If writing one sentence a day, releases the pressure or anxiety in your brain, then do it!

Journaling for mental health can positively alter your thinking patterns and promote a healthier mind.

It can be useful to have some techniques up your sleeve for when you are writing, to keep the flow going and help you express your thoughts.

Mental health journaling tips

Here are some tips to keep in mind when journaling for your mental health:

Try to express your thoughts and emotions – even if you struggle at first just keep going. Sometimes we just don’t know how to express ourselves. Remember you can put whatever you want in a journal. So if you are struggling to express your thoughts and emotions, try drawing, creating a collage or some other form of expression which would be useful to you. Finding quote which resonate can be a great way ‘in’ to your brain. Print them out, put them in your journal and then write about that quote.

Write judgment-free and avoid censoring – Remember that you are journaling for yourself, not for an audience.

Write in a stream of consciousness. This follows on from the point above. Just get writing. Don’t worry about punctuation, grammar or spelling.

Try and view your thoughts as not yourself. We are not our thoughts, so try and separate yourself from your thoughts and evaluate from an external view

Accept both negative and positive emotions. You could colour code them in your journal. Don’t avoid writing negative emotions if you are experiencing them although try not to be pulled down by consistent negative self talk. There is a difference between experiencing negative emotions and a dialogue of negative self talk.

Document symptoms you experience (consider both physical and emotional symptoms such as anger, anxiety, or numbness)

I have read some people recommend tracking your mood (with a scale of 1-5 or descriptions such as happy and sad). If this works for you then great, but I would also recommend that you ask yourself how you want to feel.

One benefit of journaling for mental health is realising that you are in control of yourself and sometime tracking your mood could make you feel either obliged to feel that emotion or resigned to feel that emotion. But you can choose happiness, or joy, or peace, even in the midst of a hard time in your life.

Use your journal as a mean of processing thoughts and emotions. So read and reflect on your entry after you finished writing.

Journaling Prompts for Mental Health

Like any other activity, journaling takes practice. Not to get it ‘right’ because there is no ‘right’. But to get used to creating this dialogue with yourself. Try to make journaling a part of your regular routine to build that habit and to be able to see for yourself the many benefits of journaling for mental health.

If you are having difficulty deciding what to write in a journal diary, here are some mental health journal entry ideas:

  1. Reflect on activities you have been doing the past day or two
  2. Important events in your life
  3. What you’re worried about or bothered by
  4. What made you feel good or you enjoyed doing
  5. Describe something you are proud of
  6. A letter to your past-self
  7. Important decisions you have made
  8. Future goals or achievements you wish to accomplish

Or, if you would prefer, here are 10 daily journal prompts to get you started:

  1. Right now I feel strong emotions of…
  2. Today made me smile…
  3. I feel anxious…
  4. To change the outcome, I can…
  5. Worrying prevented me from…
  6. A friend supported me by…
  7. I am afraid of…
  8. A more likely outcome for my fear is…
  9. I am grateful for…
  10. I can let go of things I cannot control by…

If you struggle with processing negative thinking patterns I recommend learning how to challenge automatic negative thoughts which can go hand-in-hand with journaling.

Other blog posts you might like after reading this one:

Creative Journal Ideas

What should I journal daily?

Journaling ideas for self improvement

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top