You might be wondering how writing in a journal can be healing. The first step is to understand what journaling is about.

Journaling is a method many therapists suggest. You express your feelings and release your thoughts on paper. You may draw, scribble, paint, add photos and memories, include mind maps, sketches, maybe to-do lists every now and then – be creative and make it your own! It is an introspective practise to help you reflect on your behaviour, potential patterns, and thought processes.

Keeping track of your Life

A journal will help you keep track of your life. We live in a fast-paced world with many things happening, and trying to reach a goal can be difficult due to constant distractions. A journal can help you remind yourself of the steps that need to be taken going forward. After some time, you can open your journal and look back to track your progress. 

Grounding through Journaling 

Many people struggle to live in the present, constantly thinking about their past or worrying about their future. While creating your journal, you are in the present moment, which helps to ground you. Those are mindful moments that can improve your mental and emotional well-being while you tune in with yourself. You can brainstorm with yourself in a safe space where nobody else can enter, and while doing so, you explore ways to solve your problems. 

Identifying Patterns Through Journaling

Have you ever said something out loud and then realized “Oh, I have never seen it from that perspective”, “I wouldn’t have thought that it could be so difficult for me to explain this” or “Now that I put my thoughts out there, I feel how much this actually bothers me even though I knew it the whole time”? Seeing your thoughts black on white in front of you might help you reflect and see different perspectives – you might be able to identify patterns that have been affecting your mental health for some time. You can see the bigger picture

Having a clear idea and plan written/drawn in front of you can give reassurance and reduce anxiety. Journaling can help you tackle overthinking: Many thoughts come up again and again, and we tend to think “Hey, I have not thought about this before”. A journal reminds you that you have thought about it before and can put your mind at rest. 

Your brain holds all your experiences. The process of writing happens in the left brain – your rational and analytic side, whilst the right side is activated when being creative, intuitive, and emotional. Writing a journal, therefore, engages the whole brain and can be seen as a challenging mental task. It allows you to express your emotions – you may feel relief and thereby also less stressed once you have gotten your thoughts and feelings on paper, being able to put them outside of your brain. 

Self-awareness and self-understanding will be the result of journaling if it is done correctly. This can lead to more self-confidence. 

Low-cost Method to Improve Your Mental Health 

In summary, journaling is a low-cost, simple way of improving your mental health. It can be a powerful tool in terms of coping strategies in your self-care toolbox. Instead of sitting down with a journal and thinking “Let me write to achieve healing”, try journaling with this in mind so the healing can start organically:

  • I write to release. 
  • I write to gain clarity. 
  • I write to explore possibilities. 
  • I write to uncover hurt. 
  • I write to know yourself better. 

Whilst journaling, you can be sure that everything you release is private. It can help you open up with yourself which can lead the way to open up with a trusted friend or counsellor/therapist eventually to continue your emotional healing journey.

Find out more about how to start your journal here

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Franziska Richter is a transcultural counsellor with the Willingness Team, offering counselling sessions to individuals and couples. She is particularly interested in sexuality, relationship issues, trauma and general mental health.