Journaling as a Mental Health Tool
Why I Journal:
Writing is something I’ve always done from a young age. I wrote my first poem in 5th grade titled “sad is blue” and I started keeping a diary at the age of 11. As someone more introverted in nature, writing is my preferred method of using my voice.
Personally, I don’t know what I’m thinking until I write it down. I look at it as a very valuable tool for anyone who struggles to access and express their feelings. It’s something that I’ve always fallen back on when I struggle to understand my feelings or express myself.
In this post I’ll explain why I believe journaling is therapeutic, how it helps us to better understand ourselves, what it has to do with yoga, and 3 tips on how you can get started today.
How Is Journaling Therapeutic?
Journaling is all about emotional release and finding clarity.
Did you ever have a good conversation with a friend or therapist where you just lay it all out on the table, and leave feeling 10 lbs lighter, with a fresh perspective on the situation?
I think of journaling like a good conversation with yourself. Like a free therapist that's there for you at any time. It is a way to get your thoughts and feelings out of your brain and onto paper.
When you write down and then re-read your thoughts back to yourself, you have the opportunity to gain these “aha” moments of where you feel understood by yourself. And then you have a record of it that you can reference back to later. I’ve found myself re-reading things in old journals and felt as if I was reading a strangers words, sometimes even admiring my own perspective, reminding myself of the wisdom to be gained from dealing with hard shit.
This helps to give purpose to the struggle on those hard days.
Side note: You could also shred it or burn it as a ceremonial release, if you're the kind that likes to get rid of the evidence.
Journal like a Yogi:
Wondering what journaling has to do with yoga?
Writing is one of the ways we can practice Svadhyaya (svadh -YAHyah), which is one of the niyamas or positive habits, that we honor through following the 8 limb path of yoga
Svadhyaya means self-study or self reflection.
( more about that in this post: Svadhyaya, the Yogic Tool for Lost Souls )
Journaling is a means of self study when you use it to learn more about yourself, your beliefs and your relationship with the world around you. Through this practice, we come to understand ourselves more clearly and are able to live a life more aligned with our true nature.
What Should I Journal About?
Three tips to use a journal as a tool:
1. Write down anything that speaks to you, or inspires you, such as quotes, song lyrics,
or passage from a favorite book.
2. When an outpouring of thoughts and feelings begin flooding your head, don’t
suppress them. Write it down. This is called stream of consciousness writing, and you can think of them as mental downloads. Allow your thoughts to flow on to the paper
without judgement. Don't try to make sense of it in the moment, just get it all down, and
sort it out later.
3. Pull an oracle card and write the key take away from the message of the card and
explore what it means to you and how it relates to your life in the moment or the issue at
hand. Similarly, you could pull an inspirational book and flip to a random page, let
wherever you finger falls on the page be your personal message to contemplate on and
There is a lot of value in journaling prompts for someone who struggles with knowing where to begin, or who needs a little helpful and positive direction. Check out my last post, 10 Journal Prompts for Processing Emotions, for more writing inspiration.
Ok so, that’s all for my thoughts on journaling today. I'd love to hear from you! Share your thoughts with me in the comments below, and subscribe to the blog if you'd like to see more posts like this. Also, share with your friends or anyone you think could benefit from reading this blog.
Love and light!