If you’ve been feeling blue lately and are looking for a simple but effective way to boost your mood and make sense of your thoughts, journaling is great.
Here, Amber Sims from EverythingPrinted shares her top tips for getting into journaling and explains why it can be a great move if you’re looking to boost your mental health.
Making an effort to get your feelings down on paper every once in a while can help you to detangle what’s going on in your head. It can show you what you need to prioritise, can make it easier for you to track how you feel at different times of the month, and also allow you to identify any instances where you aren’t the kindest to yourself. You can then go about reframing your mindset, so you can feel happier in your day-to-day life.
Of course, if you’re really struggling with your mental health, journaling won’t be able to take the place of more formal treatments like medication or therapy. But it can work well alongside these, or is a great exercise if you’ve just been feeling a little bit down lately.
Here’s how you can get started with journaling if you think it’s going to be a helpful exercise for you.
Treat yourself to a new notebook and pen
You want your journaling experience to be as enjoyable as possible. So, to get off on the right foot, why not invest in a brand-new notebook and pen that you can devote to the practice?
Whether you pick out a blank or lined notebook is entirely up to you — some people prefer to have complete freedom, while others like to keep their writing neat and tidy with the help of some lines. You should also consider how you best process your thoughts. For example, you might like to draw them out with little doodles, or you might like using mind maps to make sense of your feelings. If you think you’ll use your journal for more than just writing, some blank pages are sure to be beneficial.
Having your notebook personalised can also help you to feel a stronger connection with it. Perhaps you could add your name or, if you would like to keep it somewhat anonymous, you could just add your initials. You might even want to give your notebook a name to remind yourself of why you bought it in the first place. Arranging for it to be personalised with something like “my thoughts and feelings” might make it easier for you to get into the right headspace when you sit down to journal, too.
Schedule journaling into your day
One of the best ways to form a new habit is to schedule it into your day. Think about when you’re most likely to have the time to journal. Would you like to start the day reflecting, is it something you’d really benefit from before you go to sleep, or would you like to factor it into your lunchtime?
Everyone is different — some people can journal away for hours, while 10 minutes is enough for others. It might take you a while to work out what kind of timeframe works best for you, and it may even fluctuate from day to day, depending on how you’re feeling. But, to begin with, set out around half an hour to 45 minutes where you’ll just focus on writing. Whether this is too long, or not enough time, you can tweak your approach in the future.
It’s a good idea to hold yourself accountable by setting a reminder on your phone, or putting your journaling time in your calendar. You’ll be way more likely to go through with it if you get to tick it off your list!
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
Journaling should be an act of self-care, and you don’t want it to feel stressful, or you’ll be far less likely to keep it up. So, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Some days you might have nothing to write about, and on others you might have a lot to say.
Remember that your journal is only for you, too, which means it doesn’t need to be perfectly written. In fact, it doesn’t even need to make sense to anyone else. The whole point is to simply untangle the thoughts and feelings in your brain so you can feel more grounded, relaxed, and organised.
You might not see the benefits straight away, but stick with it. The more you practise, the more you’ll get out of it.
Always keep your journal handy
As well as scheduling some time to journal into your day, you might find that you have spontaneous urges to scribble down your feelings. That’s why it’s important to always keep your journal close by.
Many people leave their journals on their bedside tables, so they can jot down any thoughts they have before bed, during the night, and when they wake up in the morning. It’s also a good idea to pack it in your bag before you head out each day. This is because, if you’re ever feeling stressed or overwhelmed, having your notebook handy can really help. Whenever you need it, you’ll be able to pull it out and make a note of how you’re feeling and what you might need to do to feel better.
Even if you never actually have to use it in public, it can be reassuring to have it on hand just in case.
Show gratitude and appreciate the little things
Another reason why journaling can be so great for your mental health is that it gives you the opportunity to recognise the little joys in life, and think about what you’re grateful for.
You can work this into your journaling practice as and when you feel like it but, if you think it’s something you’d really like to do every day, why not make this a journaling prompt? So, you could start each session by thinking about what you’re thankful for, and what you’ve really taken joy from in the last day or so.
Life can get hectic, and sometimes you really need to slow down to fully appreciate what you have. Journaling is perfect for that.
If you’re feeling down or overwhelmed, journaling can really help you to make sense of your thoughts and will give you a chance to reflect on what you’re grateful for. It’s also very easy to get started — you just need a notebook, pen, and some time. Take these tips on board and you’ll see the benefits of journaling in no time at all.