Journaling is one of the easiest things that you can do for yourself to reduce stress, help with anxiety or depression, organize your life, build self-awareness, achieve clarity, and overall enhance your sense of inner peace. It’s a great coping skill that you can do privately to make sense of your everyday experiences. For people dealing with trauma or other difficult situations, journaling can be highly therapeutic and contribute to your sense of healing. For others, journaling might simply be a way to keep your thoughts organized as you go through life. It’s a great way to unwind after a long day because journaling helps us reflect and process our perceptions, which helps calm our nervous system.
Another huge benefit of journaling is that it can help us with our self-esteem, especially as we validate ourselves through the act of journaling. Many people question themselves and seek reassurance from others, but it’s much healthier to practice self-validation. Self-validation means that we are honoring our thoughts and feelings, fully accepting them for whatever they may be, rather than doubting or shaming ourselves. Validating yourself through authentic written expression will help you achieve a stronger identity and you will gain skills for managing a variety of emotions.
Journaling also helps us create order when we feel like things are chaotic in the world around us. Consider your writing time as your personal relaxation time. Create a calming environment by reducing noise and distractions as you write. This should be a time to slow down and try to make sense of the things that feel chaotic by organizing your thoughts and feelings. You might want to use different headings or bullet points to categorize different events in your life. It might help to draw different boxes in your journal or use different colors of pen or markers when journaling about different stressors. Drawing pictures in your journal may also hope you create order.
Some also find that journaling helps to improve their communication skills. Writing helps you practice how you might explain what you want to communicate to your friends or family members. Putting your thoughts and feelings into words on paper can help you feel more confident in how you want to present the information to people. As you go through this process, you will likely feel less anxious about opening up to others because getting your thoughts and feelings out on paper tends to make your inner experiences feel more manageable. This can help reduce obsessional thoughts as well. When we keep everything inside, it’s easy to ruminate over the same thoughts and worries repeatedly in our minds. Getting things out on paper is often helpful for feeling less consumed by them.
There is no right or wrong way to journal. Some people prefer to write in a physical notebook, while others find that typing on the computer is easier. Others like to keep a journaling app on their phones so they can jot down notes throughout the day. Choose whichever option appeals to you most. You may even want to try different methods. It’s also important to remember that you can engage in journaling as often or you like. You might want to journal whenever the mood strikes or set aside a designated time. Exploring what works best for you will help you gain the most out of this process.
To help you get started, below are 10 journal prompts to help build your inspiration for writing:
- When do you feel good about yourself?
- What is your biggest challenge in life right now?
- Which emotions do you find hardest to accept?
- What are some of the strongest emotions you’ve ever felt?
- What values do you consider most important in life?
- Describe one significant life event that helped shape you into who you are today.
- What place makes you feel most peaceful?
- What do you look forward to most in the future?
- Write a list of things you are grateful for.
- What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?
Written by Lauren Presutti