The Benefits of Journaling
Updated: May 4, 2022
by Kristen Milliron, LCSW, Mental Health Therapist
Many of us have memories of writing in a journal as an adolescent or young adult. The picture that comes to my mind is of a flower notebook, with all the writing in sparkly gel markers, rehashing my day and talking about my boyfriend. Thinking back, I really wish I had some direction of what to write in a journal and feel that having some direction would have greatly benefited me and is a skill I would have continued to use and develop.
It has been found that journaling has many health benefits. Journaling has shown to reduce stress and is a fantastic stress management tool. Studies show that journaling for 15-20 minutes a day helped people reduce stress to a point that it was shown to lower blood pressure and improve liver function.
Journaling helps keep your brain in shape, by boosting memory and comprehension. Journaling has also been shown to improve your mood, improves your emotional health and increases self-confidence. Journaling can help you be more mindful, keep perspective and help regulate emotions.
So how do you start journaling?
You can find many journal guides online that give you suggestions and prompts of what to journal. There are many types of journals: Stream of consciousness, Dream Journal, Food Journal, Fitness Journal, Gratitude Journal, Sketch Journal, Day Events Journal and To-do list Journal. Try several and see what type of journaling you like the most and what works best for you and your goals.
Here is a suggested guide to your first 7 days of journal writing that can also help you determine which type of journaling you most enjoy.
Day 1. Journal your goals for the week and why you chose these goals. Journaling your goals reminds you of what is most important to you and why. This can include making a schedule for your week to help you stay on task and manage what you want to work on.
Day 2. Journal three qualities that you admire about yourself and three qualities you admire about others. This prompt highlights your own values and may give you ideas of areas in your life that you want to improve.
Day 3. Journal three things that bring you joy? Often when we are under stress we have a hard time thinking about the positives in our life. Highlighting things that bring us joy can increase positive mood and can remind you to do the things in your life that make you happy.
Day 4. Journal what self-care tools you use on a daily/weekly basis. What are 3-5 self-care activities that you use? What have you used most recently and how did it make you feel? What self-care activities do you want to use the rest of the week? Self-care is so important to our mental and emotional health and highlighting what works for you also reminds you to use those tools.
Day 5. Journal about something that you want to plan and something you are looking forward to doing in the next week or month. This could be planning a vacation, scheduling a dinner with a friend, planning a hike, getting tickets to a show or concert.
Day 6. Journal about which people you admire most in your life and why. What characteristics do they have that you admire most? Have you told that person about the positive impact they have had on your life?
Day 7. Think back about day 1 and Journal what progress you made towards your goals this week? What actions did you take to help you reach your goal? What are the next action steps you need to take?
Remember, there is no right or wrong approach to journaling. It is all up to you. Journaling is taking the simple step of getting in touch with your mind, body, and spirit and that is what is most important.
I believe that prioritizing your mental health is a daily practice. Need help putting yourself first? Reach out.
Kristen Milliron, LCSW sees patients in-person at The Facility in Denver, CO and is accepting new patients (Telehealth and In-person).
Learn more about Kristen's Therapy Style here.
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