While writing down your thoughts and feelings might not seem like it will help your mental health, it’s a standard non-pharmacological tool for mental illness management. Many therapists recommend journaling for its potential helpfulness in depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD.
However, the concept can seem daunting if you’ve never written down your thoughts before. You might not even know where to begin. Take these steps below to make journaling a helpful mental health management tool:
Write Every Day
If you’ve met with a mental health professional like Natalie Buchwald, who has suggested journaling or blogging, there’s no harm in giving it a try. Set time aside daily to write down anything that pops into your head.
Writing in a journal or a document on your computer is a straightforward way to see your problems, thoughts, and feelings in front of you and not just in your head. You might enjoy clarity, reflection, and better problem-solving when you free up your mind and organize your thoughts on paper.
Don’t Overthink It
Journaling or blogging doesn’t have to take a lot of effort or time or cause stress. It should be something you use to feel better and is relatively effortless. Make journaling or blogging easier by having the tools you need everywhere you go. That might involve putting a pen and notebook in your bag or having a notes file on your smartphone to type into when you feel the need to write things down.
While words can make up most of the content in your journal or blog, they don’t have to be all you include. Some people find it easier to express themselves through other creative avenues.
You might take photos that accurately capture everything you’re feeling and experiencing. Otherwise, you might write poetry. Some people even sketch or paint to get their feelings out on paper without using written words. There’s no right or wrong way to use this mental health management tool.
Your journal is only for your eyes. No one else will see it unless you show it to them. Therefore, there’s no need to be anything other than honest. Write down your true feelings and go into as much or as little detail as you want. You don’t need to overexplain situations when you know your own backstory or sugarcoat your feelings about someone because you fear hurting them.
If you’re creating an online blog for honest feelings you don’t want people to read, you can add password protection to prevent others from gaining access.
There Are No Rules
Knowing that many people have popular blogs dedicated to mental health, you might feel pressured to make your mental health blog public and fill it with inspiring quotes and resources to help others on similar journeys.
However, you don’t owe anyone anything. You can use your blog or journal for your mental health without making it a helpful tool for others. It can be your private space to vent without judgment.
Track Your Progress and Reflect
Mental health can be a journey. Sometimes, it’s not always obvious just how far you’ve come when you’re on that journey every day. Every now and again, take time to track your progress and reflect. Read some of your earlier entries and compare them to the entries you’re writing now.
You might realize that you’re in a better head space or have a much easier time clarifying your thoughts. You might even discover that you’re able to use more descriptive words to describe how you’re feeling. Small, positive changes can mean more on your mental health journey than you might think.
Don’t Worry About Perfection
You might not have the tidiest handwriting, the best spelling and grammar, or the most extraordinary story-telling skills, but don’t let that stop you from writing for your mental health. It doesn’t matter how disorganized or unruly your written or typed content is; it’s all about how it makes you feel, getting it out of your mind onto paper.
Writing on a blog or in a journal that only you will see can mean you’re able to write whatever you want about yourself and to yourself. However, that doesn’t mean you have to talk badly about yourself, be critical, or self-judge. You may see the value in using your journal as a way to learn self-compassion. Try writing about yourself with empathy, as if you were writing to a friend needing help and support.
Many therapists recommend blogging and journaling for mental health benefits. There’s no harm in trying it and seeing if it works for you. Take note of these tips above, and you may find writing that first entry easier than expected.
Featured image provided by Sincerely Media; Unsplash; Thanks!
Olivia is the Editor in Chief of Blog Herald.