The Power of Journaling - How It Can Improve Your Mental Health

Ever since I was little, I’ve loved to write. It wasn’t uncommon to find me under our dining room table with a glittery gel pencil and a pad of paper.

I would mostly write short stories about daydreams but a majority of the time I used my imagination.

As I got older, I moved into diaries and notebooks. Then college hit and I became an “adult”. I was doing all the #adulting things and journaling seemed…childish. Antiquated, at best.

It wasn’t until I finally realized I was suffering from anxiety that my therapist suggested that I start keeping a journal.

At first, I was like…"uh’ what? I’m not 13 anymore. What am I even going to write about?"

But I was desperate for relief. I wanted more than anything, to figure out why I was so anxious and stop the feeling of fear that I overcame me all the time.

So I went to Target and bought a cheap composition notebook. 

Those $6 dollars changed my life.

It became a routine for me to spend 10 minutes every morning writing in my journal. Some days, when I was really anxious, I would spend another 10 minutes at night.

HERE IS HOW JOURNALING IMPROVED MY MENTAL HEALTH:

Understand yourself better

When was the last time that you spent a good 10 minutes with yourself? It’s so easy to get caught up in other people’s perceptions of us that we forget how we view ourselves. When you are consistently showing up for yourself, you begin to understand what you value and who you are. This leads to improved self-confidence and self-love.

Drastically reduced stress

Stress is no bueno. Typically what we are stressed about is just the manifestation of something deeper. There is something else going on underneath that is causing us to stress ourselves out. When we journal it out, we begin to understand what that root cause is. (It’s usually never what we think.) By accepting that we are stressed, we stop investing our energy into denying our circumstances and learn to embrace the changes we need to make so we can move forward.

Helps you communicate more efficiently

You know when you get into an argument with your friend or partner and 10 minutes after the conversation ended, you’re like… “Why did I say that?! I should have said this!” or “I forgot to mention that 6 months ago they ate my leftover pasta out of the fridge and I didn’t even get mad.” Welcome to the club. Journaling can help you understand what is truly important to you and how to communicate that to your loved ones. It can also help you understand their point of view.

Become crystal clear with your thoughts and feelings

When I was at the peak of my anxiety, there was a huge disconnect between my thoughts and feelings. I was feeling one way but thinking another. When I learned that my thoughts could control my feelings, my anxiety decreased dramatically. But first, I had to write out what I was thinking and how I was feeling so I could physically draw those connections.

Resolved problems faster and less painfully

We often like to drag out our problems. Sometimes they are painful and scary. Sometimes we just don’t even want to deal with them. But that is when things like resentment and dis-ease develop. Writing out what your problem is and thinking of actionable solutions can help you respond more efficiently to your problems.

Journaling is one of the most powerful tools you can utilize during any season of life.

And when I say journaling, I don’t mean writing on a tablet or computer or any technological device.

I mean…

Physically writing.

Something magical and powerful happens when your subconscious can see your own handwriting.

Science has even begun to support the power of journaling. New studies have shown that the physical act of writing stimulates your left-brain, which is more analytical, rational, logical and precise but leaves your right brain with free-range. The right side of your brain is used for creativity and holds your intuition and emotions. By using both sides of your brain, simultaneously, your brain is removing mental blocks that keep you from understanding yourself, others and the world around you.

So give journaling a shot. Who knows, it might change your life too.

XO, Ape. 

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