What Is Journaling? How to Use This Practice to Enrich Your Life
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If you want to take charge of your mental health, journaling might be the perfect tool. This method allows you to confess your thoughts free from fear of retaliation or humiliation. It can help you process challenging emotions.
This practice can take nearly any written form you like. What is journaling, and how can you use this practice to enrich your life?
How Journaling Helps Your Mental Health
People have an inherent need to express their emotions — repressing your feelings can lead to maladaptive behaviors that only put you in more stressful scenarios. However, you want to act appropriately and feel safe when you vent. A journal provides the perfect space for blowing off steam about your overbearing boss without losing your job — and a paycheck.
Writing out your feelings through journaling helps your mental health in several principal ways:
- It raises awareness: Journaling can help you identify unhealthy self-talk and reframe those thoughts, boosting your self-esteem.
- It interrupts brooding: Do you find yourself ruminating over a minor event, going over it again and again in your mind? Writing about it can help you discover what bothers you so much about it.
- It enables you to prioritize: If you have multiple sources of stress in your life, it can feel paralyzing. You don’t know what to do first. Writing helps you figure out what’s most important to tackle first.
- It regulates your emotions: When you feel ready to explode, writing is a healthier way to get your point across than screaming in the vast majority of situations.
- It helps you track symptoms: Journaling can provide a roadmap to recognizing your symptoms. Do you seem to get a bit emotional when stress levels escalate? How do your physical feelings impact your mood?
8 Journal Prompts to Start Your Journey
You don’t necessarily need prompts to get started with journaling. All you must do is put your pen to paper and address your emotions.
However, you get better at using any positive coping mechanism if you start when you feel less stressed. Here are eight prompts to get you started so that reaching for your notebook becomes a habit during tough times.
1. My Life Is the Best When
What does it look like when things are going well for you? What conditions appear,and how can you create more of them to increase your joy?
2. My Life Is Most Challenging When
Here’s a chance to do some work to identify your stressors. For example, some people thrive during crunch time at work, while other people don’t like the added time pressure. Knowing what disrupts your mojo lets you plan extra self-care during these periods.
3. When I Was a Child, I Most Liked To
Do you still feel adrift in life, perhaps caught in a dead-end job? Discover what makes your soul sing by returning to your youth and exploring your favorite activities.
4. If You Could Change One Thing About Yourself, What Would It Be?
You are an amazing human being — but everyone can improve. What would you like to change about yourself? Writing it down in black and white may be the inspiration you need to start on your weight loss endeavors or crumple up that pack of cigarettes for good.
5. What Words or Phrases Trigger You?
Part of emotional regulation requires you to identify those triggers that never fail to make you behave erratically. Recognizing these scenarios is half the battle — only then can you actively choose healthier reactions. Journaling about the times when your feelings became the most uncontrollable can help you find better ways to cope.
6. What Experiences Make You Most Uncomfortable?
Everyone has things they love and those they’d rather avoid. Why should you identify what makes you feel uncomfortable? It can prevent you from getting into unpleasant work situations and personal relationships from which you later struggle to untangle yourself.
7. How Would You Like People to Describe You?
The only thing you can genuinely control in life is how you behave — you don’t get to pick your circumstances. Ask yourself what kind of energy you want to project when you interact with others. Do you want to seem forceful, nurturing, playful, or eccentric? It’s all up to you to decide through your writing.
8. What Self-Care Activities Always Nurture You?
You also need to nurture yourself — you can’t wait for others to treat you the way you deserve. What refreshes your soul? Why not write a recipe book for the perfect day of self-care? You can even share your ideas with the one you love so that they know how to pile on the TLC on those days when you’ve had too much.
What Is Journaling? Try This Practice to Enrich Your Life
Journaling is an incredible way to manage your mental health. Use these prompts to get started with your practice today.