Journal. Diary. Blog. Archive. Memoir.
There is a myriad of names for the timeless act of recording your daily thoughts and feelings, but is it right for you? Maybe you’ve tried it before, but it didn’t feel right, or maybe you never have. With so many variables in journaling styles, it’s easy to get it wrong and dismiss the whole thing entirely. There are also so many ways to get it right, and the near-infinite nature of journaling styles means that there’s sure to be one that feels good for you.
So, Should I Journal?
The quick answer is yes. There are countless benefits to clearing out your mental dust bunnies. Your critical thinking skills, emotional processing, and trauma response are all likely to improve when you spend time with your thoughts and feelings. But it can feel stressful to begin, and to select the method that feels most healing for your personal journey. No matter how you journal, your process can benefit from remembering to WRITE:
What do you want to write about?
Reflect on the feelings, desires and thoughts surrounding the topic.
Investigate those emotive responses through your writing.
Exit with introspection.
Whether you elect to structure your journaling, create an artistic element or just sit down with a page and let your thoughts pour out as they arrive, there is healing to be found in becoming an emotional scribe.
Science Says Yes
Even the most free-flowing styles of journaling offer benefits that drive you toward not just setting goals, but achieving them. Supporting recovery in all manners is more effective when you allow yourself to take up space, and spending time in your own head validates that.
Engaging with your thoughts can help you process them, and processing them allows meaningful change to occur not just within that thought, but others like it as you move through life. It is not a stagnant indulgence. Journaling promotes active learning through reflection and can lead to better emotional processing, perspective-taking, and critical thinking skills.
Even If It Hurts a Little
While it can be uncomfortable to spend time with those painful realities taking up space in your mind, there is much to learn from them and your strength will only increase from confronting them. Connecting authentically with your emotions and processing them are keystones in recovery. Learning new methods to dispel old tendencies can be difficult or even painful, but learning is growing.
Connecting to your thoughts and emotions, making space for them, and having the opportunity to be honest with yourself are priceless tools toward healing. Journaling offers you a record of this growth and accountability that may be otherwise easy to discount or overlook. Whether you are setting goals, spending time with your gratitude or just spilling your heart on the page, that record will illustrate the strides you make.
What Should You Write?
Anything. There’s no wrong answer here, because this is yours and yours alone. But if the infinite possibility of emotional exploration feels a little (a lot) overwhelming, here are some topics to get you started:
- Dear future me,
- Write a letter to someone you love.
- Make a “yes” list and a “no” list.
- How are you really? (and don’t filter it)
- Recall a memory that made you feel powerful and write in detail.
There are healing prompts or explore something more imaginative. If none of these strike your fancy- feel free to just write. Writing when you aren’t bound by structure, sense or concept can be freeing. Stream of consciousness journaling may surprise even you.
There’s No Wrong Way to Journal
It truly is that simple and that profound. Just like your recovery, this healing experience through your emotional mind is all yours. It is bespoke. Created for you, by you, and you can’t get it wrong. You cannot fail. But you can grow. Your words can change your world, and there is no limit on the change you can be in the world.
With the therapeutic benefit of healing in mind, body, and soul, you can move through the process of recovery feeling capable. Journaling can lead the charge for change and healing. But both start from within and do not require profound skills or tools to begin. Put pen to paper or letter to screen. Put thought to word and just write.