Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health – and of the easiest and highly recommended ways to mentally ground yourself is by journaling. Why? The act of putting your thoughts on paper is a therapeutic process that provides clarity while helping relieve stress and/or anxiety.
To gain a better understanding, we asked five experts to share the mental benefits of journaling.
Understand your emotions
Molly Bahr, a licensed mental health counselor, recommends journaling to all of her clients as a tool to help them clarify their thoughts and understand their feelings. “It’s a great way to get to know yourself better and manage emotions in a healthier, less reactive way,” says Bahr. “Writing allows you to slow down, feel your feelings, and gain insight into what information your emotions are trying to tell you. Having this information allows you to respond in a way that would be most beneficial to you.”
Challenge negative thoughts
According to Jessica Sprengle, a licensed professional counselor, journaling not only helps you remember important life events, but it also has the ability to significantly improve mental health and the overall quality of life. “Taking just 20 minutes a day to journal can help with organizing and challenging negative thoughts, emotional patterns, problem-solving, conflict resolution, stress reduction, identify formation, and more,” she says.
Journaling is a powerful tool for better understanding your personal problems. Psychotherapist Kelsey Fyffe says, “Writing down your thoughts and feelings allows you to do three things: identify your emotions, label your problems, and begin searching for answers. Journaling forces you to slow down and focus on yourself without distractions.”
Journaling can also be a useful self-care practice because it gives you a sense of peace, understanding, and groundedness. “[Journaling] actually gives you a sense of physical relief from the fear, sadness, or anger that you’ve been holding,” says Elizabeth Hooghkirk, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “Some of the most important pieces of overall well-being include awareness, acknowledgment, and compassion — journaling allows you to give this to yourself!”
When you feel stressed or anxious, the emotional part of the brain is usually in overdrive. “Journaling your thoughts activates your pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain for rational thinking), and in doing so, this helps to calm the amygdala (emotional center), helping you gain clarity,” explains Poppy Jamie, founder of the Happy Not Perfect app.
How has journaling helped you? Let us know in the comments below!
xx, The FabFitFun Team