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Journaling for Mental Health and Personal Growth

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Journaling often gets a bad reputation. On TV, we see it reflected as childish, girly, gossipy, or even egotistical. The truth is, journaling can be a stress reliever, therapeutic, self-reflective, and a recipe for a new and improved you. It’s one of the best ways to learn about yourself and how to achieve your goals and dreams, as well as finding your way to inner peace of mind.

Journaling is about getting your thoughts, feelings, and memories on paper because how could you possibly ever grow if you haven’t even had time to look back on where you’ve been? Learn more about how to journal for better mental health and growth.

1. Journaling Can Help You Reflect

Journaling can help you stay organized and focused on your goals. It’s also a great way to deal with difficult emotions.  One of the best ways for me to explore my feelings has been journaling. While it can be boring for someone who feels like they don’t have anything to talk about, I find it immensely helpful when I’m trying to exit traumatic or stressful situations. It keeps my mental health in check, and in the darkest moments, it can help me find the energy to get out of bed and get some work done. 

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Get Started Journaling

My journaling began with the encouragement of a middle school English teacher. At first, I didn’t like writing about myself, but I found it an enlightening practice as time went on. I could keep track of all of my memories and think about times I enjoyed with clarity. I could also express my grief, sadness, and frustration in a way I couldn’t discuss with friends and family.

Topics to Reflect On

I would write my goals, the exciting moments that made me excited, and anything else I felt like writing about at the time. I also wrote down moments I wanted to remember and detailed things like trips and exciting events. It’s been my joy in happy times and my refuge in darker times.

2. Journaling Allows You to Explore Your Goals and Emotions

You can use your journal to reflect on your life, experiences, and thoughts, and feelings. When you journal, you can also use it to plan for your future. It’s an important tool for self-exploration and emotional release. While writing in a journal can sometimes be a daunting task, that’s where you can find a clear goal and purpose too. By putting your thoughts and dreams together, you can chart your goals and your accomplishments. 

A Journal is for Exploration

A diary entry can be filled with anything you want to add to it. You can write about your dreams, what you’re grateful for, what “feels” good, your hopes and dreams, your frustrations, whatever you want to write about. Regardless of what you plan to write about, we should always start with our goals. 

How to Use a Journal for Goal Setting

It’s always more powerful to start with your most important decision. Identify your biggest endeavor. The most potent steps here are to always start with the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of your goal. It will then help you put into action all the other steps. 

For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, start with why you want to lose weight in the first place. Then, work backward. How do you let yourself fall into the trap of perfectionism? What tempts or discourages you? How do you overcome those obstacles? Then, and only then, can you start looking into ways to get yourself to where you want to be. 

This is where planning your week properly comes into play. If you know what you want and why you want it, you can tend to it like the king of all tasks: discipline. You’ll have a clear direction towards what you want to accomplish and the self-restraint to achieve it.

3. Journaling Helps You Make Sense of Your Life

Journaling is a great way to make sense of your life. It’s also a great way to find your purpose and to make some sense of your professional and personal lives. Journaling is a great habit to get into and a great way to make sure you’re not missing out on anything.

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Get in Touch with Your Inner Self

When you journal, you are able to reach your inner self. This part of your mind is unguarded, and you get access to a lot of its secrets. If there’s one thing we have learned about ourselves from ages of journaling, it’s that we’re able to recount our experiences in a way we cannot speak with others. It fosters growth, catharsis, and transformation. 

A journal is a powerful tool and can be shared with others (if you choose) in a more intimate way than an email, text, or phone call could ever be. You’re able to open the door to self-discovery without ever needing to speak with anyone else.

Journal to Find Your Strength

When we journal, we are able to interact with our inner self. When you start seeing yourself in the same, raw way, you begin to find your own tenacity. You notice that you can come back to a place where you can gain strength and a voice that you can trust even in the worst of times. What does that look like? When you discover that it’s often you fighting yourself, you learn how to be vulnerable in a way you’ve never had before.

When you write about the fears or insecurities that keep you from getting through the day or writing about how empowered you feel as you move forward in that path, this is what becomes real for you. Counting my blessings is a powerful habit. Counting coins can be useful, but it does nothing to change your circumstances. 

The important thing is to look back at your life and realize that you had some good moments and some bad moments. Recognizing this fact gives you a sense of perspective to look toward the good things in your life. It also helps you see how resilient and dynamic you truly are.

4. A Journal Can Teach You New Skills and Teach You New Ways To View Certain Problems in Your Life

A journal is a great way to get perspective on what you’re going through in your life. Writing something down and making that a record of what you’re experiencing can help you to gain perspective.

It helps you learn from your mistakes and how you can better handle certain situations in your life. Many people stop journaling but then never want to start it again. Whether it was a disappointing breakup, the loss of a job, or another life issue, most people get stuck in a rut if they don’t take a break from a survival mechanism like journaling. 

That’s why having a journal on your phone can actually help you get resources or boost your mindset when you hit a rough patch. 

Maintain Well-Being Through Self-Reflection

In fact, a 2019 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General solidified the point. “Self-journaling, but especially reflective practice, can help individuals maintain optimal levels of well-being,” write the authors. 

They mean that self-reflection will provide you with epiphanies and help you return to the present to make better choices. From overcoming personal challenges to controlling your eating habits, learning, and changing how you respond to life situations, self-reflection not only helps you become a stronger person; it can also inspire you to make a positive change in the world. “Considering your life objectively is an integral part of self-development,” — Chen, Alleyne & Carpenter (2018) 

well-being through self-reflection
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Better Goal Setting

As you start setting goals or making plans for the second half of 2021 and beyond, you might be tempted to rely on the past to guide them when it comes to goals and intentions. But by setting goals in a place you can track and evaluate your progress, you can make more informed decisions about what it takes to reach those goals. 

Journaling helps you to get your thoughts on paper and analyze them through the lens of hindsight and your current situation. It enables you to ask yourself questions such as: By journaling and reviewing your thoughts, it can become clearer for you when something is missing or what you’re capable of achieving in your life.

5. Learning From Your Failures is Just as Important as Learning From Your Successes

Learning from your mistakes is just as important as learning from your successes. One of the most important things when it comes to any “failure” is to learn from your mistakes and not make the same mistakes again. 

We’re born a clean slate and have to make mistakes to learn. As you grow, you’ll inevitably have youthful blunders and downfalls. It’s easy to become depressed and disillusioned with life. That’s when you need to reflect and see how much you’ve grown. Even when it seems like you’ve gone backward, you’ve learned many important lessons. 

Self-reflection and introspection will allow you to see how you can begin again with a more informed attitude. Once this becomes practice, you’ll see how much better you get along than those that don’t take a moment to understand the past and be more successful in the future. Think about it like budgeting for your mental well-being.

Now that you know a bit more about journaling, you can see the benefits of daily journaling. Try it for yourself and see what it does for you!

Journaling for mental health and personal growth
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