The Power of Journaling: Therapeutic Writing for Emotional Release

journaling, therapy ,mental health, mindfulness

Expressive writing is a trending topic among psychologists, therapists, and self-help experts alike. No one can deny the benefits of journaling your emotions on paper. It reduces stress, helps you process emotions, elevates your mood, and helps you question negative emotions. Since it reduces fixation with suppressed emotions, it is unsurprising that you’ll feel better afterward. Even a 10- to 15-minute journaling session per day can make you happier. But the question is, why is journaling therapeutic? Is there scientific research that backs up its supposed benefits? Why do we feel better after journaling? We will address all those questions in this article. So, without further ado, let’s dive a little deeper!

Why is journaling therapeutic?

Have you ever felt low, sad, depressed, or just like you were stuck in a rut? Well, I know the answer to the question is ‘yes’ for almost everyone. We all fall hard sometimes and we might even find it hard to get back on our feet. For some, getting back to an equilibrium can involve seeing a therapist. For others, it could be starting a new job or moving to a new place. And some of the more literary-minded or creative folks, getting better can begin with art.

Writing can calm you down when you feel emotionally overwhelmed. It can help you feel more relaxed and content. Any individual who has resorted to journaling as a form of self-expression will testify to its efficacy.  But what makes it such an effective tool for mental stability? Exactly why is journaling therapeutic? Let’s find out:

1.journaling is a safe space

Generally, when we start opening up to other people, we might be subjected to criticism and unsolicited advice. For someone looking forward to feeling understood, this can feel like an attack instead. Most people want to feel heard. But they might not be surrounded by people who are good listeners. It is also worth noting that our emotions are often irrational. For example, our feelings might clash with social, moral, and cultural norms. This might be confusing to navigate for an individual. Those around them might actively shut down their attempts to express themselves. Journaling provides a safe place where you can connect with yourself without judgment or distractions. Journaling is therapeutic because it allows us to be our authentic selves.

2. self-reflection and insight

As humans, we have a natural disposition to draw comparisons. We compare our wealth, our progress in our careers, and even our relationships. Journaling allows us to compare with our past selves. This allows us to see exactly how far we have come, making it easy to identify and change our thought patterns. This self-reflection can help us improve and easily dismiss things we cannot control.

3. it Transforms Our Perspectives

mental health, journaling, therapy, therapeutic journaling

journaling has the transformative power to shift and broaden how we perceive things. By engaging in the process of regularly recording thoughts, feelings, and experiences, individuals can experience significant changes in how they perceive themselves, others, and the world around them. Journaling can transform our perspectives in the following ways, encouraging self gratitude, improved communication skills or even cultivation of empathy

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF JOURNALING?

We have already established that journaling can be a healing and transformative activity. But why is journaling important? Let’s discuss that in the light of its benefits. 

1.Self Compassion

Journaling helps us understand more about ourselves. It can help us embark on a self-discovery journey and helps us create a positive self-image. For example, maybe you need to work on your academic grades. You worked hard, but for some reason, the result was worse than you expected. Instead of bashing yourself, you could journal about how you feel. Perhaps you could write, “I did the best I could, but I did not get the desired result. That makes sense because I got sick during examinations. My mind was not functioning well. Either way, this is not the end of the world. I know I am capable of so much more”. This is a better method to soothe yourself and move on rather than feeling guilty or ashamed about something that was not in your control. Journaling provides psychological relief when we need it most.

2. Physical Wellbeing

Our mental and physical well-being have significant overlap. An example is lower energy levels when you’re depressed. You might not be able to get out of bed. You could feel tired and lethargic all the time. Your mental state has a direct connection with your physical well-being. Another example is laughter yoga. It is known to release endorphins and lower stress. So, coming back to our question: why is journaling important? Because it helps us stay emotionally and mentally fit.

3. Achieve Your Goals

Journaling is known to increase productivity and will help you achieve your goals. The best way to achieve your goals with journaling is to create a vision journal. A vision journal is based on visualizing success and then writing about it. This type of journaling is more visual with creative elements, but the goal remains the same. You must journal every single day to establish a routine. Remind yourself of your goals for the next week, month, or even year. This will help you stay on track.

Why do therapists want you to journal?

Therapists often encourage their clients to journal for several reasons, recognizing the therapeutic benefits that the act of writing can bring to the therapeutic process. Here are some key reasons why therapists may recommend journaling:

  • Journaling is an effective way to delve into our minds.
  • It can assist us in becoming aware of our thought patterns.
  • Identifying problematic thoughts is the key to developing healthy coping mechanisms.
  • It helps us in self-reflection and analysis. 
  • It helps shift the biased story we tell ourselves. Even if the world was unkind to you, that doesn’t mean you are not worthy of love. 
  • Mindful activism helps us shift the narrative from a negative perspective to an optimistic one.
  • It helps us become more self-compassionate.
  • Good mental health leads to physical benefits.
  • Feeling good helps us stay physically active as well.

How to start journaling for therapy?

There are many ways to begin writing for therapeutic purposes. If you are working with a mental health professional, they may provide you with directions on how to begin journaling for therapeutic purposes.

While true writing therapy would be conducted with the help of a licensed mental health professional, you may be interested in trying the practice on your own to explore some of the potential benefits to your wellbeing. If so, here are some good tips and steps to get you started.

TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED

  • choose your preferred way to journal
    • Select a journal that feels comfortable and inviting. It could be a traditional paper journal (note book or diary), a digital journaling app, or any other medium that suits your preferences.
  • Set a Regular Time:
    • Establish a routine by setting aside a specific time each day or week for journaling. Consistency can enhance the therapeutic benefits.
  • Choose a Journaling Style:
    • Decide on the type of journaling that suits you. It could be free writing, gratitude journaling, goal setting, or creative expression. Experiment with different styles to find what resonates with what you want to achieve in the long run.
  • Use Prompts:
    • If you’re unsure where to start, use prompts to guide your writing. Prompts can help stimulate thoughts and emotions. Examples include “Today, I feel…” or “One thing I’m grateful for is…”.
  • Focus on Feelings:
    • Center your journaling around your emotions. Describe how you feel and explore the reasons behind those emotions. This self-reflection can be insightful.
  • Write Freely:
    • Don’t worry about grammar or structure initially. Let your thoughts flow freely. The goal is self-expression, not perfection.
  • Reflect on Positive Experiences:
    • Dedicate some entries to positive experiences or things you’re thankful for. This can contribute to a more optimistic mindset.
  • Include Visual Elements:
    • If you enjoy it, incorporate visual elements into your journal. Drawings, doodles, or even pasted images can add a creative dimension to your entries.
  • Set Small Goals:
    • Include small, achievable goals in your journal. Tracking progress and celebrating small victories can be motivating.
  • Review and Reflect:
    • Periodically review your past entries. Reflect on the progress you’ve made, challenges you’ve faced, and any insights gained. This retrospective view can be valuable.
  • Be Kind to Yourself:
    • Remember that journaling is a personal and judgment-free space. Be kind to yourself, and don’t criticize your thoughts or writing style.

Important things to note when writing a therapeutic journal

  1. It’s okay to write only a few words, and it’s okay to write several pages. Write at your own pace.
  2. Don’t worry about what to write about. Just focus on taking the time to write and giving it your full attention.
  3. Don’t worry about how well you write. The important thing is to write down what makes sense and comes naturally to you.
  4. Remember that no-one else needs to read what you’ve written. This will help you write authentically and avoid “putting on a show.”

In conclusion you should always remember, Writing to relieve emotional tension is a healthy coping mechanism endorsed by numerous mental health professionals. If you’ve used journaling as an outlet when you felt overwhelmed, you now know why it works so well. So, why is journaling therapeutic? Because it’s a medium for expression. It serves as a healthy way to channel our feelings. So, find your journal, grab your pen and start writing. 

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