A journal can be many things. It can be a form of therapy for people who are battling illnesses. It can be a pool of ideas for writers and designers. It can also be art in itself for artists who enjoy doodling and sketching. It can be the memories immortalized through words by a mother who doesn’t want to forget.
There’s no right or wrong way to do a journal. The journal itself becomes personalized based on your choices that make up the entire thing—from the kind of paper to the type of pen. You can custom build the notebook by hand or purchase a leather-bound diary from a stationery shop. You can opt for black paper and permanent white chalk marker for nostalgia’s sake.
Notable people like Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Ernest Hemingway, Andy Warhol, and Maya Angelou are also known for writing in their journals. Joan Didion, a famous non-fiction writer, even wrote an essay in her book of anthologies about keeping a notebook. In her essay, she said, “We are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not… It is a good idea, then, to keep in touch, and I suppose that keeping touch is what notebooks are all about.”
This makes journaling personal and personalized. The journal becomes a tool to explore the self’s inner thoughts, then and now. For people who are suffering from mental illness, therapeutic writing can help them release their blocked emotions and find patterns to figure out their triggers.
Here are the reasons why therapeutic writing can be good for one’s mental health:
Keeping a journal helps you become self-aware
If you’re suppressing certain kinds of emotions as a form of defense mechanism, know that you can be your honest self when you write on your journal. Every word is yours. Sometimes, even if you’re clueless of your real emotions, writing them will let you realize what has been bugging you, how you genuinely feel about a specific scenario—things that are difficult to discuss out loud.
Write like no one will see it, which is true, because you have the liberty to choose the people who can view your entries. Is it a private journal which can only be read by you? Will you allow your psychiatrist to read it? Whichever choice you make, remember that it’s valid. No one can judge you, and no one can invalidate your feelings.
Your journal entries can showcase your triggers
You don’t have to write daily to find a pattern. Answering the question “When do you feel the need to reach for your journal to write?” can give you enough clue as to what disrupts your mood. It is similar to having the mood tracker provided by psychiatrists, but a journal contains more details and doodles.
Having a journal can promote positivity through creativity
Customizing your journal with doodles and stickers is a relaxing activity. It is similar to the therapeutic effects of adult coloring books. By giving your time and focus on the creative activity, you’ll be inclined to veer away from negative habits and issues. Your energy will be spent on a healthy and productive activity.
Of course, journaling is only one of the many lifestyle changes you can do to improve your mental health. Keep in mind that no one can tell your truth other than yourself. Write about it.