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After months of my therapist sharing the benefits of journaling & how journaling helps your self-love journey, I decided to get started and honestly journaling has changed my life for the better.
Disclosure: I am not a medical professional. All thoughts and opinions made on twinsandcoffee.com are based on my life experiences and personal research. Click here for my full disclosure.
How I Got Started Journaling
I’ll be honest, I was SO hesitant on diving into the world of journaling. I thought it was full of “fru-fru” junk that wouldn’t provide any life value- but I was wrong.
Journaling has helped me open up with myself and truly start to heal the many wounds that have been weighing me down for…way too long.
There are so many ways to get started but personally I got started by brain dumping and it’s led to discovering some of the awesome benefits of journaling.
If you’ve been around for a while, you’ve probably heard me talk about brain dumping a million times by now, but let me share with you what I mean.
To me, brain dumping is opening up a blank document, note, or taking out my empty notebook and dumping out every thought on my mind. Every. Last. One. None of it has to make sense, be grammatically correct, or even use punctuation. Instead, I focus on letting the thoughts and feelings flow through my fingers and onto the screen/paper.
And let me tell you- it is SO freeing. I feel so much lighter afterward. I’ll dive more into what this could look like for you down below, but seriously. If you take anything from this post, please let it be to start regularly brain dumping.
Can Journaling Help Your Mental Health?
Short answer, absolutely!
But let’s dive into how journaling helps your mental health a bit more than just “yes it does”.
How journaling helps your mental health
I could go on all day about how I have seen journaling help improve my own mental health as well as my friend’s mental health, but let’s leave this to the experts.
The University of Rochester Medical Center stated in a post titled “Journaling for Mental Health” that:
” Journaling helps control your symptoms and improve your mood by:
- Helping you prioritize problems, fears, and concerns
- Tracking any symptoms day-to-day so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them
- Providing an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts and behaviors” (University of Rochester Medical Center)
I think those few bullet points really describe how journaling ultimately helps your mental health by allowing a healthy way to work through your complicated emotions, thoughts, and fears.
Other Benefits of Journaling
- Processing emotions/events/traumas
- Improves memory
- Boosts mood + confidence
- Helps you track your progress/evaluate various moods/cycles
- Learn your triggers
- Reduces stress
- Organize your thoughts
- Helps you understand yourself
- Helps you make decisions
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Beginners Guide to Journaling
Okay now let’s dive deeper into journaling beyond the benefits of journaling & how journaling helps your mental health.
Let’s talk about how to actually start journaling!
Decide Paper or Digital
Deciding on how you are going to journal can seem like an overwhelming decision to make but my best suggestion is to just go with something and see what happens. One of the many benefits of journaling is that it can help your mental health no matter which way you go about it. I’ve tried journaling apps, notes in my phone, google docs, as well as colorful bullet journaling.
I’ve landed on my bullet journal for my morning affirmations & such, then an app called “Daylio” for evening journaling which essentially is a great tool for tracking my mood (which we’ll dive into in a bit).
Favorite (& top-rated) Bullet Journals:
Here are some other awesome apps that provide the many benefits of journaling:
Start with Simple Braindumps
I think there are a few different ways to go about “brain dumping”, but I’ll share what has worked well for me.
Essentially, all I do is open up whatever form of journal I am using and I starting dumping out everything on my mind. Like I said earlier, I don’t focus on punctuation, spelling, or honestly making much sense at all. I genuinely just pour out my thoughts into the journal.
Now the ultimate act of brain dumping offers some incredible benefits in and of itself, like leaving you feeling much lighter with a less cluttered mind. But the real benefits of journaling through brain dumping come from after you step away.
After you pour your soul into your journal, I want you to close it and drink some water, watch tv, or even close your journaling tool for the day. BUT THEN I want you to come back to it later on (30 minutes, a few hours, or the next day) and read through it.
Do your best to try to make sense of it and start making an action plan for yourself.
To give you an example, I use brain dumping as a form of taking notes after therapy.
Usually after therapy (at least for the first six months after my divorce) I would feel fatigued and like my brain was about to explode with all of the new thoughts I had that either therapy brought up or I took away from what my therapist said. SO I started taking about 15-30 minutes after my weekly sessions to dump out all of my thoughts and feelings & let me tell you, not only did it help me process those emotions a lot more efficiently, but being able to look back and see how far I have come is an incredible feeling.
Seriously, just try!
After brain dumping, my favorite way to journal is by using journal prompts. When you look up things like “how journaling helps your mental health” odds are you’ll be met with a ton of journal prompts meant for just that.
There are so many places to find journaling prompts, from books to Pinterest to popular journaling Instagram accounts to apps. Honestly, they’re everywhere!
Personally, my favorite place to find journal prompts is on Pinterest. I have a board here full of different ideas and when I’m in the journaling mood or need a good mental reset, I’ll pick from my collection and let my mind wander.
I also have a handful of guided journals that include various prompts & worksheets. Swipe through this list to check them out!
Journaling Prompt Ideas
Here are some prompts to get you started if you don’t want to buy a guided book!
- Five things I like about myself
- Five things I am thankful for
- Five things I want to work on
- What am I most proud of?
- I am grateful for…
- What would I tell my teenage self? (younger self)
- What would I tell my future self?
- What are my strengths?
- What do I want to accomplish in the next year or five years
- What makes me happy?
- What do I enjoy most about the day?
- What is my ideal day?
- Who is my person?
- What am I thinking right now?
- What are all of my worries?
- What do I feel strongly about?
- What is a happy memory?
- What is a favorite trip/experience from my past?
- What makes me special?
- What is my best personality trait?
- Five things I am grateful for
- Best compliment I have ever received
- Happiest moment of my life
- Five positive changes over the last five years
- Something you are very proud of
- Describe your favorite food and why it brings you comfort
- Describe your favorite place and why it brings you comfort
- What makes you feel loved?
- What does your ideal day look like?
- Ten things I am very good at
- Three goals to accomplish by the end of the year and why
- What makes you feel happiest?
- Who makes you feel happiest?
- What are three of your biggest worries and how can you work on them?
- If you could do anything in this world, what would it be?
- If you could go anywhere, where would it be and why?
- What is the best book you have ever read?
- What is your comfort show and why do you love it?
- What is the best movie you have ever seen?
- What is a memory that stands out from your childhood?
- How do you define success?
- What can I work on forgiving myself for?
- What is holding me back from the life I truly want to live?
- What are my biggest insecurities and how can I work through them?
- How am I working on myself?
- What would make you happiest right now, in this moment?
- Who is someone you admire?
- What is something you want to learn?
- What brings me out of sadness?
- What will make me feel successful when I am eighty?
I hope by now you have gathered just how journaling helps your mental health and in the many ways you can get started in a way that makes sense for you!