What Is Journaling? 

Journaling is an effective mental health practice that is quick, easy, and can be done everyday at your own convenience. It requires very few materials, as you can use a piece of paper, a notebook, or even your phone to keep a journal. For some people, journaling is simply the task of writing about their day. For others, journaling can be a creative outlet. There are many different types of journals that you can have. Whatever type of journal you choose to keep, there are lots of benefits of journaling for your mental health.


What are the Benefits of Journaling? 

Journaling can be extremely helpful for anyone struggling with their mental health. For people with anxiety, journaling can be extremely helpful in managing intrusive thoughts and worries. When you’re having constant stressful thoughts, writing them down can allow you to set them aside for a moment. Additionally, you can write down the different positive possibilities of how a situation might turn out to de-stress about an upcoming event that is giving you anxiety. One study found that after just 12 weeks of positive journaling, a sample of 70 adults with anxiety symptoms felt increased well-being and decreased levels of anxiety.

Journaling can also be helpful for managing symptoms of depression. One study found that when people with depression wrote about the emotional events of their day, they experienced decreased depressive symptoms because they were able to take the time to process those emotions. Another way that journaling can help with depression is by writing down what you are grateful for, whether you do this each day or just keep a constant list.

In addition to anxiety and depression, journaling is an effective method for many mental health disorders, and really just for anyone. Everyone experiences negative emotions, and journaling is a great way to address and reflect on them. There are many different types of journals that you can keep depending on which aspect of your mental health you are hoping to improve.


Different Types of Journals 

When you first start journaling, you might feel like you don’t know where to start. A great way to narrow down what you would like to write about is by choosing a specific (or multiple) type of journal that you would like to start. There are many different types of journals that you can have. Some examples are:


Daily Journal 

This is the type of journal that usually comes to mind first when people think about journaling. In a daily journal, you can simply just write about all the different parts of your day. Usually people who keep a daily journal like to write in it before bed. In your daily journal, you can discuss:

  • What did you do today?
  • What parts of your day made you happy, sad, stressed, excited, etc.?
  • What are you looking forward to doing tomorrow?
  • What do you think you did well today?
  • What do you think you can improve on tomorrow?
  • If it’s the beginning of the week, what goals would you like to accomplish this week?

This is a great way to decompress at the end of the day and reflect on the day. Sometimes, it can be easy to tell ourselves we had a bad day just because one bad thing happened. When you sit down and recount everything that you did, you might realize that more good things happened that day than you realized and you can go to sleep with a more positive mindset. Additionally, thinking about the parts of the day that you think you could have improved on will set you up very well for the next day.


Gratitude Journal 

A gratitude journal is a great journal to keep if you have a very busy schedule, as it can take as little as five minutes out of your day. Each day, whenever you have a few spare minutes, write down at least 5 things you are grateful for. You can write about:

  • Something good that has happened today
  • Someone/something that made you smile
  • A moment or experience where you felt at peace or ease
  • Something you recently learned that helped you

The great thing about a gratitude journal is that writing even the smallest positive things that you are grateful for can completely change your mindset for the day. Perhaps you got all green lights on your drive to work or you had a really great lunch; you can write those down! The most important part of a gratitude journal is to just get positive things about your life onto the page, no matter how insignificant they may seem to you.

Whenever you are feeling stressed, anxious, or sad, you can go back to previous pages of your gratitude journal and remind yourself what you are thankful for. Therefore, this journal can help you in the present, and in the future.


Productivity Journal 

Have you ever felt like you have a million things to do? Or a thousand ideas that you can’t keep track of? Keeping a productivity journal can immensely reduce the stress and pressure of these feelings. Too often, we tell ourselves that we will remember to do something and never write it down. Soon, it turns into many things we need to do and our thoughts become overwhelming. Keeping a productivity journal on-hand (such as on your phone) will allow you to take the pressure off of yourself to remember everything that you have to do. Additionally, once you write everything down, you’ll most likely realize that your to-do list is much smaller than you thought.

Another aspect of a productivity journal is to write down your ideas. Similarly to things we have to do, we often have great ideas that we quickly forget. Writing these ideas down in your productivity journal will take the pressure off of keeping everything in your mind and allow you to focus on the present.

There are many different types of journals that you can keep to improve your mental health. Keeping a journal can also be a great adjunct to therapy if you are seeking professional help. For more ideas on journals you can keep, check out this link! If you are looking for a therapist we are here to support you. You can reach out for a complimentary consultation call.


Thank you to Dr. Laura Riss, Atlanta based psychologist and Jane Goldsmith, Best Within You Therapy & Wellness intern for this blog post.