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 was, and still is, therapeutic. Whenever I felt low, I would pick up my journal and let my emotions flow onto the pages. In this post, I am going to teach you how to journal for depression in order to improve your mental health and overcome depression.
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 in a safe space.
There are many different types of journals. Gratitude journals, bullet journals, or a plain and simple, lined notebook. Here are a few of my favorite journals that amazon has to offer.
Benefits Of Journaling For Mental Health
Writing in a journal daily has huge mental health benefits. If you struggle with anxiety or depression, journaling will help you tap into your thoughts and feelings. It will allow you to understand and process your emotions to uncover triggers and potential stressors.
Changes Your Perspective
Mental illnesses like depression and anxiety can cause you to look at the world negatively. Depression can make you become tunnel-visioned and only notice the negativity around you.
Journaling helps your mind open up and welcome positivity into your life. Writing about your day will help you notice the little pockets of happiness and they will become bigger and more noticeable 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, it will help to clear this build-up of thoughts.
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.
Makes Life Feel More Manageable
How many times have you felt like a dog chasing its tail, round and round and 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 up and completely forget your plan?
Dedicate a page to your goals and break them down into smaller, more 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. That was 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 your goal will help your devise a plan and turn this huge daunting task into a nicer, more manageable plan.
How To Journal For Depression
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 everyday life. 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 having a journal is having a physical 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 to understand why you were feeling that way.
Pro Tip: If you’re creative, dedicate a colour to your emotions and shade a section of each daily journal page with the colour of emotion that you felt that day.
Reflect On The Day
Reflecting on your day 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 turn an activity into a habit. To make the most of journaling, you need to make it part of your daily routine.
I have the perfect thing for you, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a complete beginner.
My 30-day free self-discovery journal.
The 30-day free self-discovery journal includes 30 printable pages of journal prompts to encourage self-improvement and mental exploration.
It takes 30 days to start a habit and my free self-discovery journal is designed to get you in the routine of journaling and exploring your emotions every day. If you’ve ever tried journaling before and given up, then the 30-day journal is perfect for you. It is designed to easily fit into your evening routine and only take 5 minutes out of your evening. The daily prompts encourage you to write every day without it feeling like a chore.
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 every day.
Check-in with yourself. How are 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!