Writing down our thoughts, feelings, and daily experiences might not be something we’ve done since we were angsty teenagers. But even though we’ve grown out of screaming at mum and dad because they “Just Don’t Understand!”, writing a daily journal or diary may benefit you even into your adult life. Here are some journaling ideas and thoughts to get you started...
Journaling for Mental Health
“Dear diary” is a term from days gone by, but today journaling is the new, grown-up version for anyone who’s ready to take control of their mental health.
By writing down your thoughts and feelings, you’ll be able to get clarity on your mental wellbeing. Spotting things in your day that maybe upset you more than you let on or really weren’t that big of a deal.
And although your “diary” might not need to hide under your pillow, sealed with lock and key, like it did when you were younger, keeping a private log of your thoughts allows you to better process how you’re feeling. No worries about grammar, punctuation, or spelling. This log book is just for you - a private space for you to empty your brain and reveal your most deep and private thoughts, fears, and emotions.
Helping you create order when your world feels like chaos.
The Health Benefits of Journaling
These journaling ideas are a fantastic way to clear a cluttered mind. And there are multiple scientifically proven benefits to sitting down with a pen and paper to process the day’s events. Here are some of the ones we found most impressive:
1. Stronger Immune Functioning
Journaling isn’t just great for your mind; it can actually strengthen your immune system and decrease the likelihood of you getting sick!
In new studies, researchers found journaling offered multiple physical benefits to people battling life-threatening and terminal illnesses including HIV, AIDS, asthma, and arthritis, by strengthening the immune cells and improving the function of the immune system.
Journaling has also been linked to faster healing from wounds!
2. Boosts IQ & Communication Skills
Because writing down your experiences is fundamentally an exploration of language and communication, the theory is that it will enhance your natural urge to search for new words that perfectly describe your feelings, increasing your vocabulary.
In addition, journaling can improve your communication skills. Although you’re just talking to yourself (even if you address the entry “dear diary,”), journaling allows you to learn how to express your thoughts and feelings more accurately, which can have a carry-on effect on how we communicate with others.
In other words, as you learn to understand and express yourself, making yourself understood will become easier.
3. Reduces Stress & Anxiety
If you’re the sort of person who lies awake at night with every single worse-case scenario running through your head, journaling could be just the trick to help you return to a more peaceful state of mind.
Instead of over analysing everything, writing down your thoughts can help you find clarity and calm as you organise and dissect your feelings and fears. You may even notice that your most stress-inducing thoughts aren’t so bad, after all!
Journaling also provides an opportunity to come up with creative solutions to the problems that have been keeping you awake (mind mapping solutions following a journaling session can be incredibly beneficial when you feel stuck).
4. Learn From Experiences
As you write down your experiences, thoughts, feelings, and fears, it’s an invaluable opportunity to reflect on the day’s events. This could help you spot a trigger you didn’t realise you had, give you the space and clarity to see how you could have done better at a specific task, or perhaps you’ll realise that fight you had with your partner was really about something else altogether.
Studies show that the best way to learn is through experiences and making mistakes. But these are pointless if we don’t take the time to recognise and learn from what’s going on in our lives.
Journaling forces us to slow down and take stock. Looking not just at what you did, but how you felt, to provide clarity and give you a chance to learn something.
5. Improves Mood & Reduces Depression
Psychologists have discovered that writing about your feelings doesn’t just make you feel more relaxed in the short term but can actually help your brain overcome emotional upsets, giving a boost to your emotional wellbeing and happiness.
The “Bridget Jones Effect” was noticed to calm down brain activity in the amygdala - the part of the brain that controls how intense our emotions are. This brain activity happened through the simple process of writing down feelings, whether or not any solutions were found was irrelevant.
Other studies have shown that journaling can also be effective in extreme cases: helping people deal with severely traumatic experiences. In these cases, expressive writing was found to aid with PTSD, lower body tension, and reduce feelings of anxiety and anger by helping people process their trauma.
6. Sleep Better
Journaling before bed is a fantastic way to get your thoughts, ideas, to-do lists, goals, fears, or anything else that usually keeps you up at night out of your brain and onto paper. By processing your daily experiences and feelings, you can enjoy a less cluttered and noisy mind, allowing for a sounder and easier night’s sleep.
(MORE: Why Am I So Tired?)
When you add journaling to your bedtime routine, there are some tips to help you structure this as efficiently as possible: particularly useful if you’re new to journaling.
- Spend 5 minutes writing a really specific to-do list for the next day. The more specific, the better!
- Spend at least 5 minutes writing down positive events that happened to you. You could do this in the form of a gratitude list or as a free writing exercise.
- Spend 5-10 minutes free writing anything that comes to mind. This could include drawings, take the form of a poem, or be a detailed description of something important that happened to you.
Journaling Idea and How to get Started with Journaling
If you’re new to journaling, it’s important not to get too caught up in the “right” way to do it. Journaling is an incredibly personal and private event, and the only right way to complete your journal is in a way that makes you feel the happiest.
Most people find writing in a physical notebook before bed is the best way to empty their mind and improve their sleep, but if you prefer to jot your thoughts down on your phone throughout the day or write your gratitude list first thing in the morning, you go for it! And if you don’t feel like journaling one day, then don’t worry, your diary will be waiting for you tomorrow.
By putting pen to paper, you can improve your mental health and overall wellbeing, as well as a range of physical benefits like fewer sick days and faster healing.
Journaling can help you prioritise your problems, fears, and worries, track your daily symptoms and triggers, and help you identify any thoughts or behaviours that might be holding you back.
And if after all that journaling, you’re still not feeling relaxed and ready for sleep, then just grab one of our Sensory Retreats self-heating eye masks and complete your day in peace and tranquility. You can shop the range HERE.
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