In celebration of #mentalhealthawarenessweek from 15 – 21 May, we thought we would talk about journalling and the positive impacts it can have on a person’s mental wellbeing. Key research has shown that journaling can help us accept, rather than judge, our mental experiences, resulting in fewer negative emotions in response to stressors (Ford, et al; 2018; Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005).
How to start
Journaling can be done in several different ways and for all kinds of reasons, it doesn’t just have to be a diary for your emotions. Gratitude journalling and expressive writing are two common types of journal that people keep. A common stumbling block for those trying to keep up with a journal or diary is losing sight of the point of it.
Why do I want to start a journal?
What do I hope to get out of it?
What do I want to accomplish?
Set aside some daily time
Pick the time of day that suits you best to write in the journal; setting a regular time is helpful but accept that it may be necessary to be flexible.
Begin by writing for only a few minutes on a subject of your choice – perhaps the day’s events or something that has been troubling you. Create and express what you want from life and how you feel. There are no rules, and there is no wrong way of doing this.
You don’t have to create a masterpiece on every page, just start by jotting down a little something every day and go from there.
Your journal can also be a great remedy for digital overwhelm – if you’re feeling like you need a quick break from social media, a nice exercise is to take a minute with your journal to write, or draw, as slowly as you can. It’s a great way to refresh your mind before returning to any digital devices!
Have fun with it
The main thing to remember when journaling is to have fun with it wherever you can. Sometimes you may document some more difficult emotions, whereas other times you can let your imagination wander – there is no wrong way to keep a journal.