How to Begin Creative Journaling for Mental Health

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  • 06 Jan 2024
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What is the purpose of creative journaling for mental health? Is it scribbling on your calendar, writing in a colorful notebook with your favorite pen, or capturing your thoughts and insights in a Google document?

Journaling is a written record of your feelings and ideas. People journal for a variety of purposes. Some people journal to express themselves, get insight, or perhaps solve an issue.

However, many people write for the purpose of healing and rejuvenation, or to support their mental health.

Therapeutic writing, according to Zencare, is an opportunity to explore feelings and thoughts with the objective of increasing self-awareness and understanding. Creative journaling is a helpful activity for relieving stress, managing anxiety, and coping with mental health difficulties.

In this post, I will discuss the benefits of journaling for mental health, how to get started, and journaling prompts to help with mental health.

Benefits of Creative Journaling for Mental Health

1. It Helps You Cope With Stress

Journaling can help you cope with daily challenges and enhance your mental health.

Dr. Francisco Cruz, chief psychiatrist of Ketamine Health Centers in Florida, defines stress as "when your mind and body become out of balance." Adrenaline and cortisol are stress chemicals that inhibit your immune system, increase your heart rate and blood pressure, tense your muscles, and widen your pupils.

There are several pressures in our life. As a result, it is fairly unusual to have chronic stress that lasts longer than six weeks. Finances, relationships, health difficulties, professional struggles, family troubles, and a plethora of other concerns may all cause stress.

It is, nevertheless, quite feasible to handle stress through journaling.

Stressors can make you feel overwhelmed, irritated, nervous, angry, lonely, scared, or a combination of these emotions. Writing about one's emotional condition, on the other hand, helps one to analyze and express their ideas and feelings. It may also bring clarity and aid in the identification of potential solutions.

2. It Strengthens the Immune System

We've all heard the adage, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away."

Participants in a 2018 Cambridge research were asked to write about their deepest thoughts and feelings concerning pressures in their life. Four months later, individuals who wrote for 15 minutes a day about their experiences reported fewer medical visits and fewer sick days.

Journaling is not only connected to long-term reductions in health problems, but it also helps you recuperate faster.

3. It Provides a Place to Express Gratitude

It is all too easy to grow addicted to the hustle and bustle of life and just miss all we have to be grateful for, according to Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine, authors of The Power of Thanks: How Social Recognition Empowers Employees and Creates a Best Place to Work.

According to research, thankful individuals achieve more, are less likely to burn out, are more resilient, and have overall better health. Gratitude has also been proven to stimulate brain regions associated with good emotions.[4]

Thus, journaling allows one to document everything for which they are grateful.

4. It Helps You Achieve Your Goals

Writing out your objectives is one of the most effective strategies to attain them. Many great sportsmen and corporate executives employ visualization to attain their objectives. However, writing out one's objectives allows them to better understand and picture the final result or achievement of the goal.

Dr. Gail Matthews of Dominican University of California discovered in 2020 that persons who write down their objectives had a better likelihood of achieving them than those who do not write them down.

To achieve one's goals, more than a to-do list is required. Journaling allows one to intentionally connect with their objectives in order to produce effective prioritizing of tasks rather than building an overwhelming list that causes analysis paralysis and inhibits goal accomplishment.

5. It Helps Support Mental Health

Expressive writing in the form of journaling is an excellent technique to handle stressful situations. Processing the distressing incident frequently helps those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Journaling creatively is a helpful technique to handle these feelings. A 2015 study discovered that keeping a journal on a regular basis may be an effective method to manage the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Creative journaling appears to be a helpful technique to address depression as well.

In a 2013 study with people living with major depressive disorder (MDD), participants were asked to write about an emotional event or non-emotional daily events. They performed this writing repeatedly over several days. It was noted that emotional writing greatly decreased symptoms of depression, while the more routine writing didn’t show a significant impact.

How to Get Started in Creative Journaling

Now that we've covered a few of the numerous advantages of creative journaling and the significant influence it can have on our mental health, let's look at how to get started.

1. Gift Yourself a Priceless Gift

Do you remember as a youngster opening presents on significant occasions? You were being given a great present, and it certainly made you happy.

Consider it a great present to yourself to make time for creative journaling. Schedule time in your calendar to give yourself the gift of creative journaling. Allow yourself to be totally present for yourself by letting go of the impulse to multitask.

2. Start Small

Journaling habits are formed by consistent journaling. It does, however, need time and space. If you tell yourself that you must write 400 words every day, you will place more pressure on yourself.

Set the aim, however, to utilize your notebook on a regular basis to examine your ideas and feelings in writing.

Some days, sketching about an incident feels natural, while other days, writing in narrative form feels natural. However, the goal is to start small and develop persistent behaviors.

3. Don’t Turn It Into a To-Do List

Journaling is a reflective activity. The desire to take notes on work, develop to-do lists, and perform other irrelevant chores may occur.

Be kind with yourself and concentrate on expressing yourself.

4. Keep It Spicy

The goal is to develop a journaling habit that benefits your mental health. Try to keep it spicy, though.

Try journaling in different places and at different times—on the balcony, at a coffee shop, in the morning, at lunchtime, and so on. Hopefully, this will keep you from becoming bored and will help you maintain your consistency.

5. Remember, There Is No Right Way

It's critical to keep in mind that there is only one way to journal—your way.

It's not about having a nice pen or scheduling the right moment on your schedule. This isn't about all of the Pinterest, Instagram, or Etsy notebooks. Rather, this exercise involves you writing down your ideas and feelings.

How to Begin a Creative Journaling Practice

Here are some pointers to help you get started with your creative diary.

1. Choose Your Method

Choose how you wish to keep track of your ideas and feelings. What about your favorite pen and a diary with a lovely cover? A ballpoint pen and a legal pad? Is it better to use a laptop or an iPad?

Choose the technique that appeals to you the most.

2. Find the Right Spot

Choose one or more locations where you may sit comfortably and have some solitude without being bothered by too much noise or interruptions. Consider your favorite coffee shop, a park bench in your neighborhood, your house in the early morning hours, and so on.

3. Pick a Time That Consistently Works (Or Kind of Consistently)

Determine when you are most likely to journal. Before work or school in the morning? Before going to bed? In the middle of the day, at a natural rest between activities?

Try to write at that time every day or almost every day, even if only for a few minutes. According to experts, 20 minutes each day is excellent.[8]

Start small and be patient with yourself.

4. Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation—Who Cares?

Don't be concerned about spelling, grammar, or punctuation! Allow your thoughts to freely flow onto the page or computer without evaluating how you convey them.

Your journal is a free-for-all. Correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation are unimportant. The objective is to freely express your feelings and opinions.

Final Thoughts

Journaling has been shown to improve our mental and psychological well-being in a variety of ways. The therapeutic practice of creative journaling for mental health can help you endure life's difficulties and have a better outlook on the future.

If you're not sure where to begin, simply follow the advice in this article, and you'll gradually find additional things along the way.

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