When I was really struggling with depression and anxiety, I found comfort in writing. The act of getting my thoughts and feelings out of my head and onto paper is therapeutic. Whenever I felt low, I would pick up my journal and let my emotions flow onto the pages. In this article, I am going to teach you how to journal for depression and anxiety.
What Is Journaling?
A journal is a notebook or diary where you write down your thoughts, feelings and experiences. Journaling is a great way to deal with depression and anxiety as it allows you the opportunity to clear your mind and process any negative emotions.
There are many different types of journals however, I recommend staring with a simple, lined journal. Amazon have some amazing journals like this beautiful, celestial journal.
Benefits Of Journaling For Your Mental Health
Writing in a journal daily has huge benefits for your mental health. If you struggle with anxiety or depression, journaling will help you tap into your thoughts and feelings.
Changes Your Perspective
Mental illnesses like depression and anxiety can cause you to look at the world negatively. You become tunnel visioned and only notice the negativity around you.
Journaling helps your mind open up and welcome positievity into your life. Writing about your day will help you notice the little pockets of happiness and they will become bigger and bigger over time.
If you struggle with anxiety, chances are you have thoughts racing around your head every second of the day. When your mind feels like its running on a treadmill, you need to clear it.
These racing thoughts are often worries and stresses that cause anxiety. Dedicating a page a day to your anxieties will give you the space and time to process them.
Write down each individual worry as it comes to you. From here, try to see if you can reason with it.
E.g) I have too much work. Break down the tasks you need to do individually and focus on the most important ones. From here, you can dedicate time to each task. When that worry comes us again (we know it will) you can tell yourself the plan and let the worry pass by.
Makes Life Feel More Manageable
How many times have you felt like a dog chasing it’s tail, round and round, getting nowhere? Before I started journaling, I felt like this every-bloody-day!
Keeping a journal makes life feel more manageable and less chaotic. Writing down everything you need to do helps clear your mind and organize your thoughts.
Can Help You Achieve Your Goals
How many times have you gone to bed thinking about something you wanted to do the next day, only to wake and completely forget your plan?
Dedicate a page to your goals and breaking them down into smaller, manageable steps. This will help you see a clearer path to where you want to be and give you the motivation to move forward.
When my depression and anxiety was at its worst, I struggled to leave the house. It was a huge, daunting goal that I couldn’t see a way to achieve until I broke it down into steps. They were as follows:
- Get out of bed
- Get dressed and ready
- Have a nice breakfast and cup of tea
- Put on my shoes
- Go for a walk with mum.
Writing down my goal helped me devise a plan and turn this huge daunting task into a nicer, more manageable plan.
How To Journal For Depression And Anxiety
There are lots of different ways to journal for your mental health but below are my top four methods. As you get into the habit of journaling, you will find your own technique and methods that help you manage your mental health.
Plan Your Day
When you struggle with anxiety and depression, its easy to get lost in the everyday. How often have you found yourself going with the motions instead of making the most of the day?
Using your journal to make a plan of action for the day is a great way to increase your productivity and accountability. Why? Because when you write down your goals, you are one step closer to achieving them.
Everyday while I eat breakfast, I plan my day. Your plan should be a mixture of tasks you need to do, activities that make you happy and one thing that challenges you.
Gratitude journaling is all about finding things to be thankful for everyday. Gratitude journaling is especially useful if you struggle with depression because often we don’t feel grateful for anything. Depression causes your thoughts to become negative but gratitude journaling begins the process of positive thinking.
It will be hard to find positives but if you practice gratitude everyday it will become easier and you will begin to look at the world in a positive light.
Track Your Emotions
Part of journaling is having a resource that you can reflect back on. Every once in a while, use your journal to reflect back a few months and see the progress you are making.
A great way to quickly see your progress is to track your emotions. On each dedicated journal page, have a section where you write the most important emotions you felt that day. Anger, sadness, joy, excitement or even hunger. Tracking your emotions daily is a brilliant way to tap into your subconscious.
Pro Tip: If you’re creative, dedicate a colour to your emotions and shade a section of each daily journal page with the emotions that you felt that day.
Reflect On The Day
Reflecting on your day is a brilliant way to journal for your mental wellness. It allows you to focus on everything you have accomplished and encourages a sense of pride.
Reflecting on your day is also a brilliant resource to look back on as you progress in your mental health journey. Your journal for depression and anxiety will become a way for you to see your progress.
Get Into The Journaling Habit
How many times have you bought a pretty notebook and thought about starting a journal only to forget about it for months? I was terrible for doing this until I turned journaling into a habit.
Make Journaling Part Of Your Daily Routine
It takes 30 days to make a habit and to make the most of journaling, you need to make it part of your daily routine.
Every morning while I have breakfast, I write in my journal. This has enabled me to set aside time to focus on journaling and start my day off right. To get the most out for your journal for depression and anxiety, I recommend setting aside time to write in your journal everyday.
Keep Your Journal Close By
I’m not going to lie to you, I am obsessed with my journal. However, it is good to keep your journal close by. Your mental health doesn’t work on a clock so you never know when and where you might really need to get your feelings out.
If you don’t want to carry your journal with you everywhere (like me!) have a little notebook and pen in your bag. I promise, you will thank me!
Helpful Journal Prompts For Beginners
Reflect on the day. Write down everything you did in the day and reflect on your thoughts, feeling and emotions. If something upset you or made you angry, ask yourself why. If something filled you with joy, ask yourself why and how you can have that feeling everyday.
Check in with yourself. How is your mind, body and soul? What have you done today that made you feel happy and healthier and what didn’t? What can you do better tomorrow?
I am grateful for… Write down three short paragraphs about what you are grateful for. You can be grateful for anything. People, life, objects or something that happened today.
Are you thinking about starting a journal for your mental health? Let me know in the comments below!