Benefits of Journaling
- Allows you to process. When you begin to write down information, you begin to think about the thoughts and feelings you have. Thinking about thoughts and thinking about feelings gives you the ability to separate yourself from them and to begin seeing them more objectively. This process serves to diminish the negative impact that these feelings and thoughts can have on your mood and overall well-being.
- Allows you to know yourself. Knowing yourself is one the best ways to combat depression, and it will make your therapist very happy. When you journal, you begin to connect the dots of your life. You find patterns and trends with your thought, feelings and behaviors in ways that you never have previously. As you write, connections will be made to prior entries that you can then go back to refer to regarding the current situation. Knowing yourself allows you to prevent problems before they develop.
- Allows you to solve problems. You will never prevent all problems, but since journaling allows you to be objective to yourself and the world around you, it gives you the power to solve problems better than ever before. You can look at yourself with increased accuracy, and you can understand the people around you with more empathy. Empathy is the act of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to know what it is like to be them. Empathy is essential for conflict resolution.
Types of Journaling
Give up on the notion that journaling is only writing about that day’s events on a blank page. Journaling has more range than that, and chances are good, there is a type of journaling tailored to your needs. Check out these journal types:
- Standard – It would be foolish to start anywhere other than the standard journal. Countless people find this beneficial enough to do it daily. With this process, you write about the day’s or week’s events. You can focus on the events themselves, or you can write about the impact that these events had on your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. For an added level of difficulty, write about how your thoughts, feelings and behaviors impacted the events. This will illustrate the level of power you have in the world around you.
- Gratitude – A gratitude journal is a very interesting fit for someone with depression. If you feel that your previous journaling attempts have been thwarted because journaling made you feel worse, try a gratitude journal. In this, you only concentrate on the positive aspects of the day. This forces you to change your perspective and search for the good that happened that day. This process breeds optimism and hope for the future. These are sure depression busters.
- Stream of consciousness – Some people don’t like journaling because it is too hard to know what to write. This is likely due to being overly filtered and feeling that they need to write the “right” thing. If this sounds like you, try the stream of consciousness. This type may take some practice as the goal is to write whatever is on your mind without stopping to think about it. It may not make sense but that doesn’t matter. The only goal is to get the thoughts and feelings out. For best results, type this on the computer with the screen off or dimmed significantly. This prevents your need to edit or censor yourself. A few days later, read over what was written to process the content.
Next page: making it a habit.