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Journaling Supports Your Mental Health Journey

Journaling Supports Your Mental Health Journey

In literature, a journal or diary is often the key to unlocking a mystery, discovering the truth, or understanding someone or something that has long been misunderstood. 

What is true in fiction can also be true in real life. Keeping a journal or a diary (these are really two words for the very same thing) can help you unlock mysteries regarding your mental health. By writing your thoughts and feelings down, you might discover truths about yourself and you might get a better understanding of things that have not been clear to you in the past. That process can help you improve your mental health and maintain those improvements over time.

Let’s take a look at a variety of approaches to journaling that can provide mental health benefits.

Recounting Your Day and How You Felt

Often, we think of a journal as a simple recounting of the day’s events. You might jot down the weather, a few things that happened over the course of the day, and maybe a funny anecdote or two. You might mention who you talked to, what you ate, and something unexpected that upended your normal routine. 

With a small adjustment, that kind of journal can be a useful way to explore your mental health. The key is to notice how the various things you experience throughout the day make you feel. By getting a better sense of what sorts of things make you feel happy or anxious or sad or content as your day unfurls, you can gain insights that can be helpful to you—and inform your next conversation with your therapist. 

A journal can help you connect your emotions with the events of your day, and that can be revealing and useful to you.

Making Note of What You are Grateful For

A spirit of gratitude can bolster your mental well-being—and keeping a gratitude journal can help you cultivate that spirit. 

Gratitude journals are pretty simple but can be exceptionally powerful. Each evening, jot down three things you are grateful for. Your three things can be anything at all—as long as you are grateful for them. You might be grateful for a favor, for a good meal, for a sunny day. You might be grateful for your partner, your pet, or your family. You might write down three different things every day or you might find that some things recur quite often. 

The key here is consistency—and taking a moment each day to reflect on your gratitude as you write your three people or things down. This daily counting of your blessings can provide a boost to your mental health.

Taking Time to Explore Your Creative Side

Your journal does not have to be an ongoing factual record of your activities. Instead, it might be a place to try your hand at writing a story or a poem or doing some sketching or doodling. Keeping your creative side engaged is a good way to support your mental health.

This is true even if you never intend to show what you create to anyone else. Too often, we think creativity is only valuable if it can be enjoyed by (and sold to) other people. But popularity is not what makes creative work valuable. Instead, exploring your creativity is enjoyable in and of itself, providing an opportunity for relaxation as well as pride in your efforts. And if you eventually want to show someone else what you have been up to, that’s wonderful—but it is not a necessary step for reaping the benefits of personal creativity. You can think of this kind of creative journal as a kind of play that supports ongoing mental well-being.

It is A-OK to Mix and Match

We have described three different approaches to journaling. But there is no reason to limit yourself to just one kind of journal. Some days, you might want to reflect on the events of your day. Other days, you might want to note what you are particularly thankful for. And on other days, you might jot down a quick poem or make a quick sketch. And of course, you might do all of those things on a single day.

This is the most important point we have to make: Your journal is your journal. How you use it to support your mental health is entirely up to you.

Make a Note: Peak View Behavioral Health can Help

If you are struggling with symptoms of anxiety or depression or a disorder grounded in past traumatic experiences, Peak View Behavioral Health can help. We provide personalized mental health care grounded in expertise, experience, evidence, and empathy. We offer inpatient and outpatient services for adults and adolescents.

Located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Peak View Behavioral Health is committed to helping you improve your mental health—and your life.

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