Simply searching for why you should journal to lower your anxiety, sets you up for success. I know it seems like such a cliche at this point but the benefits of journaling to your mental health is outstanding.
By now, many of you may know that journaling helps to reduce stress, improve mood and increase positivity. It also helps by improving your IQ, sleep hygiene and self confidence.
However, do you know why? Do you find that when you try journaling you have nothing to say? This is not rare.
Plenty of individuals struggle with journaling and, as an unfortunate result, are not able to benefit from the activity. Let’s start from the beginning shall we!?
Why You Should Be Journaling
It helps to decrease stress and negative moods by allowing you to be mindful. If you’ve read my previous post you have a good understanding of mindfulness.
A summary for those of you who haven’t (go read it!). Mindfulness is simply being aware of your needs, acknowledging your thoughts and feelings without a right/wrong judgement.
With the new wave of self care popularity, journaling piggybacked on it and made an easy comeback. While most of us remember having a journal when we were younger somewhere along the way you stopped.
Life became too busy, too stressed, and you were too tired to worry with journaling. It is interesting that no one notices how large of an impact this activity had on their mental health when in their younger years. We just have good memories and chuck it up to the fact that we weren’t paying bills at that time.
This mindfulness activity allows you to label your emotions and relate them to behaviors you notice within yourself. Journaling something positive you noticed about yourself or morning experiences, improves your mood when continuing throughout your day.
Though you need not journal each day, it is recommended you do so for 15 minutes 1-3 times a week (depending on your life experiences). Write about anything! What may be bothering you or what ever seems to be stressing you out. You could also check out the prompts I have laid out to get you started.
What Happens When You Don’t Journal
If you do not journal-or participate in any other mindfulness activity- your symptoms will continue to persist. Journaling helps you “work through anxious feelings” by identifying triggers to the symptoms, plan ways to combat or avoid triggers and implement.
Avoiding to resolve your anxiety can result in stress, continued rumination and-at times- depression. Read here for tips to get stuff done when depressed. Research has shown that individuals who implement use of expression, reported lower levels of anxiety than their counterparts who did not implement use.
How To Make Journaling A Habit
Now, that you know a few reasons why it is important to journal to reduce anxiety symptoms, it is important to begin forming a mindful habit. It takes 21 days to form a habit and even longer if you do not acknowledge its importance.
Step One: Get A Journal
To be successful in creating this habit you must begin by purchasing a journal that fits your needs. There are many different types of journals such as bullet, goal oriented and even prompts with blank sheets for journals. Choose the one that satisfies!
I recommend the Journaling For Anxiety that will help you “have a deeper understanding of yourself, your journey, and who you are at the foundation of your being.” By purchasing you are demonstrating your commitment to clarity and peace within.
Step Two: Pick A Place, Time And Set Boundaries
Now that you have made your commitment it is important to pick a quiet, calming place for your activity. Choose a space where your creativity can flow and your mind can be clear.
Set a time during the day where you are limited in distractions and are able to complete your entry. Personally, I choose the very beginning of the day when I know I am in for a stressful moment. However, most times I chose close to the end of my day to ensure I fully reflect on my entire day.
So you pick a place and time but someone comes barging in with needs or wants! How do you respond? I suggest notifying individuals from the moment you will begin to journal that you need x amount of time.
In the beginning it may be difficult to set this boundary however you must be consistent. Setting clear boundaries when practicing mindfulness will allow you to identify other areas you may need to set them for your mental health. Learn what can happen when you don’t set healthy boundaries.
Step Three: Write, Read, Reflect
Write out your thoughts, emotions and behaviors you have noticed throughout the day. Follow the prompts laid out unto you. What comes next is important!
Read what you wrote.
After reading what you wrote down, reflect on your words. If it helps, read your entry as though someone else wrote them. What does it seem like the needs are? What is being overlooked that is causing such intense anxiety?
Step Four: Act
When we know better, we do better. Acknowledging your needs and doing nothing about it, will not wield you any changes. You will continue to stress, have excessive worry, have fatigue, depressive symptoms and…well… the list goes on.
Do not feel pressured to change EVERYTHING overnight however acknowledge that some things will need to be changed quickly. If you identify there is an individual that triggers negative emotions within you, you must begin to set boundaries with this person. If you identify a lack of sleep for your anxious moods, you must set a proper sleep hygiene to begin to reduce your symptoms.
Step Five: Affirm
Occasionally, throughout your journaling journey, read back from the beginning. Read your words and be impressed by what you have accomplished. Affirmations are sure to increase the likelihood of you continuing this mindfulness practice and continuing this positive habit.
Not only will noticing the change within yourself encourage further journaling it will also encourage continued changes. I began by setting boundaries with people to completely avoiding individuals because of the way I felt when I left their presence. I stopped accepting less from myself and began to acknowledge that I could do better so I did!