Benefits Of Journaling For Your Mental Health

Benefits of journaling for your mental health.

I’ve always believed that writing evokes passion, emotion, and purpose. Which is why I started writing and journaling as early as 8 years old.

At first, I would scribble down random thoughts, or give every detail about my day. But as I got older and transitioned through various life stages, my journals and notebooks became a safe place where I could release my innermost thoughts, feelings, and secrets without fear of judgment.

Journaling was always more to me than just words on paper, it was a place I could turn to when I felt alone. It saved me and pulled me through some of the hardest times of my life, including: making it through the hard teenage years, losing a long-term relationship and friendship, feelings of depression and anxiety, and trying to make sense of my purpose in life. It was an outlet that provided a mental escape and helped me realize things about myself that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. 

Writing and journaling can be a healthy way to untangle your thoughts and feelings, helping you prioritize what’s most important and become self-aware of anything you want to improve or work on. Keep reading to learn the benefits of journaling for your mental health, along with recommended journals to help you on your own writing journey. 

Disclaimer: Some links in this post might be affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with the links provided, I may receive a small commission (with no extra cost to you!).

Journaling Helps You Sort Through Your Emotions 

During college, there was a period of time when I stopped writing in my journal altogether. Up until this point, journaling was always a huge part of my everyday routine. But when I found myself in an extremely toxic relationship, the last thing I wanted to do was write down how I was feeling and confront truths that I didn’t want to deal with. 

Sometimes we don’t even realize the weight of what we’re carrying because we refuse to let go. When we ignore our feelings and emotions, they only get shoved deeper and deeper, until it becomes almost impossible to pull out. Which is exactly what happened in my situation. 

Once I started writing again, I realized how many times journaling benefited me in the past when I had a healthy space to get everything off of my chest. I wrote about experiences that I wouldn’t have shared or tapped into otherwise. It became a way for me again to sort through every emotion, regardless of how deep and heavy everything felt, until I could finally release it all.

Not every single emotion we have needs some sort of solution, but there’s always something freeing about being able to get your innermost thoughts out of your head and on paper. Our feelings will never suddenly disappear just because we suppress and ignore them. When you become more aware of how you feel and why you feel the way you do, it’s a lot easier to try and process how you’re going to manage your emotions. 

Sometimes we don't realize the weight of what we're carrying because we refuse to let go.

Journaling Reduces Stress And Anxiety 

I’ve mentioned before how anxiety became more than just a definition to me after I graduated from college. I was trying to figure out my next path in life, feeling pulled in a ton of different directions, all while trying to navigate the end of a horrible relationship. Of course we all experience stress at one point or another, but I never realized how much journaling helped reduce and identify where my stress and anxiety were coming from.

When we’re able to shift our perspective and step outside our situation, it’s easier to paint a clear picture of why we feel the way we do. It was helpful for me when I started writing about anything that was currently stressing me out, and what I thought was contributing to my anxious feelings. Was it one situation that happened, or was it multiple situations that added up, causing me to feel the way I did? Diving into these questions, helped me realize that I was prioritizing things in my daily routine that wasn’t beneficial to my mental health. Which was essentially putting what was important, completely on the back burner.

Journaling can reduce stress and anxiety by giving us relief, re-shifting our mindset on what’s truly important to us. While it’s not to say that we might not still experience stress here or there, journaling gives relief to those feelings, especially when we can recognize how we feel and how we’re going to incorporate changes in our lives.

Journaling Provides A Space For You To Pause And Reflect 

Sometimes, when we’re in the midst of a situation or a moment, we don’t even realize how it’s affecting us. 

Something that I found consistent the past couple of years in previous journal entries, was how I would describe feeling lost trying to figure out what my purpose was. It seemed like I was always trying to search for something that I couldn’t find, and as a result, it made me feel lost more often than not.

Once I was able to pause and reflect on my current situation and where I wanted to be, I could see the line in between. My purpose wasn’t found in my career, or where I lived for example, but it was found in who I was and the everyday little things. 

Having that time to pause, reflect, and truly dig into why I felt the way I did, provided me clarity and direction. Once I was able to figure out why I felt the way I did, I started to write down ways that I could actively work towards my goals and hopes for the future. We might not even realize some of the thoughts in our heads until they’re on paper. Journaling is such a great outlet to release everything we might be holding onto, offering moments of stillness to gain insight into our thoughts and experiences.

Journal Recommendations:

Journaling can feel intimidating when you’re not sure where to start. I love journaling at night the best, when I’m alone with my thoughts and feelings and I can reflect on the day. I’ve always loved free-writing, which is where you write down any thought that comes to your head without overthinking it. As you can see from the picture below, I have so many different journals for different purposes, depending on my mood or what I feel like writing about (which isn’t even all that I own!). 

Stack of journals.

If you’re struggling on where to start, here are some of my favorite journal recommendations:

  • Spiraled-notebook: When I free-write, I typically write in a plain-spiraled notebook. I can’t even count how many of these notebooks I’ve gone through (probably at least 30 easily!). But I love them because it’s completely distraction-free on the pages. The spiral-bound also makes it easier to flip through the pages or lay in bed and write!
  • 5-Minute Journal: If you feel pressed for time, this 5-minute journal is helpful to reflect on prompted questions. I love that it’s quick and short questions. It also provides prompts to help you set your intentions for the day, then reflect when the day is over.
  • Mental Health Journal: While this journal is similar to the 5-minute with the prompts and questions, this Inner Work Journal provides daily check-ins, prompts, and reflection questions. I also love that there’s a mood tracker because it’s always so much easier to check into how I felt for the week when I can reflect on what happened and what I want to work towards the next week.

There are so many benefits to journaling for your mental health, including learning how to identify negative thoughts and reduce stress and anxiety. If you’re unsure of where to start, the best advice I have is to just start writing. Everything else will flow, and you might even be surprised how much you can learn about yourself and how much better you’ll feel afterward. 

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