The University of Iowa conducted a study that found that those that journal about the emotions and thoughts in relation to their day-to-day lives show more personal growth and have better mental health outcomes. Journaling is a type of mindfulness and is great way to begin to improving your mental health. However, sometimes writing can be hard. Here at Life Resolutions, our director, Jodie Brenton and principal psychologist, Mary Magalotti want all Australians to have the skills and resources to live a happy and healthy life. Here are some benefits and tips for mindful journaling.
Mental Health Benefits of Journaling
- Increase emotional understanding: writing can help you gain an insight into what is happening around you and how it affects you. This can reduce stress, anxiety and worry.
- Letting go of worries: journaling allows us to get our fears and worries out and onto the page. By letting out your feelings can decrease the feeling of that ‘we are our thoughts’, we can observe them instead. This is a feature of mindfulness.
- Judgement free expression: journaling can have the same positive effects as a conversation, but you may feel you can be upfront and honest because there’s no fear of judgement from another person.
- A study by The Pennsylvania State University found that journaling has a major effect on reducing distress and anxiety.
The Journal of Clinical Psychology suggests that spending 15 minutes each day journaling will decrease feelings of distress and anxiety in just 3 days. But it is all about getting started!
Tips for Getting Started
There are many ways to journal, and it is important to find the style that works for you. However, it is important to keep in mind that writing about your thoughts and feelings is key to getting the highest levels of benefits.
- Choose a journaling tool that is right for you – this could be an online tool, word document, notes app on your phone or a physical notebook.
- Find a style that is right for you – this can be prompt-based, reflective, or gratitude based. These tend to be most beneficial for mental health.
- Keep your journal private – this will allow you to feel you can be free with your expression and writing. However, at times it can be beneficial to share some things you write but for the most part, it is recommended to keep your journal mostly private.
Prompt Based Journaling
This allows you to write in response to a question or prompt. Your responses should address your emotions, thoughts and feelings in relation to the prompt or how you are feeling in general. There are many pre-set up journals and apps that have this format that can be found online. Reflective Journaling
This is reflecting on aspects of your life in an emotional and deeper context. It can be reflecting on your day, a past event or how you are feeling in the current time. It is encouraged to just start writing, don’t worry about structure. But if you struggle to start it can be helpful to start with an event or how you are feeling right now.
This is talking about the things you feel grateful for throughout your day. From the little things to the larger things in life, it is important to recognize the good things. You can start by listing 3 things you are grateful for and then write how they make you feel.
While journaling can help improve mental health, it is important to seek professional advice if you are concerned about your mental wellbeing. Mary Magalotti and the team of Life Resolutions psychologists are here to support your mental health journey no matter your concern. Jodie Brenton works to ensure support is easily accessible. That is why appointments are available via telehealth or in person. For more information, you can visit our website or contact our team over the phone.