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The Importance of Journaling

Alexis Vogler, LPC
Counselor, Insight Clinical Counseling and Wellness, LLC

I love journaling so much. Journaling can be one thing that can truly be customized to you and what you are going through/wanting to work on for yourself. Types of journals can include gratitude journals, self-care journals, food journals, weight-loss journals, video journals, dream journals, feelings/mood journals, and so on. The biggest thing about journaling is that you don’t even have to buy a lot of materials! Sure, maybe a pen and a notebook, or just using something we have on us every day, a cell phone! Most cell phones now-a-days have a ‘notes’ section or even a ‘journaling’ app. If you aren’t a good writer, no problem. There are video logs that can be made and even a talk-to-speak action that can be used with a computer or smartphone. There is literally no limit to what can be done through the magic of journaling.

Yes, journals can help us keep accountable if we are trying to achieve something. For example, journals for food intake, water intake, and weight logs, which can be beneficial for trying to reach our goals. However, journals can also just be a level of comfort to improve our mental health. I always say that when we cry, that is our body’s way of releasing any pent-up emotions/feelings that we store in our body. Just like when we sweat because we overheat; our body protects us by releasing water to calm us down. In a way, journaling is a form of releasing those emotions and feelings that we tend to keep inside but need to get out. If we journal AND cry, then even better. That release may be exactly what our stress-, anxiety-, depressed-induced self needs to cope with at that moment.

After journaling for the day, week, month, what can be done? Well, I think there can be some strong conversations if you share a journal entry whether to your partner, therapist, family member, or friend; it can be a great way to get what may be hard and difficult conversations started. However, if that is not the case, it is also therapeutic to 1) either keep your journal so you can look back on your growth and create empowerment for yourself, or 2) rip it up, burn it, destroy those entries like you are manifesting those feelings away from yourself.

After researching this topic for myself, I came across an article through positivepsychology.com by Dr. Jeremy Sutton titled, 5 Benefits of Journaling for Mental Health. He went through previous research on benefits of journaling from conducted research studies. There were various findings, but one important component I learned is that journaling personal thoughts and feelings can be helpful with breaking away from cycles of spiraling and non-stop obsessive thinking. I find that this is the most freeing statement anyone could make. Through previous clients and personally myself, I can acknowledge the scary feeling that can take hold when we cannot control our own thoughts. Feel free to read the whole article where he presents many benefits to journaling through research findings.

Link to article https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-journaling/#benefits

The first step to journaling is probably the most difficult, which is finding out what kind of journaling you want to create for yourself. This is where some self-reflection can be used; asking yourself “what do I need right now?”. Whether it is accomplishing tiny goals and a journal to keep track and accountability like a journal for positivity and gratitude passages; journal for grief and overwhelming feelings/emotions; journal for mood changes and pattern developments; and so much more. Remember, you can customize your journal to whatever you NEED at this moment. Listen to your body and reflect on your needs.

Happy Journaling!

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