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Journaling is not just a great everyday tool to take care of your overall well being but there is a tremendous amount of scientific evidence to show its benefits in improving mental health. It facilitates a healthy way to express your emotions, clear your mind, make and keep track of goals. When you journal you are combining the strengths of both hemispheres of your brain, ie analysing and sifting through thoughts, experiences, etc and at the same time tapping into your more creative right hemisphere through free expression and bringing release (Grothaus, 2015).
Journaling has the added benefit of helping you work through challenging situations and managing depression, stress, anxiety or trauma recovery. Specifically it can help you to keep track of your symptoms, particular thought patterns, triggering situations, face negative emotions, common fears and concerns etc which increases awareness and facilitates a more focused approach to resolving problems.
The effectiveness of journaling lies in making it a regular practice. Endeavour to write every day and set aside a dedicated time. Choose a place and a time that is distraction free and that feels relaxing to you. Let your thoughts and feelings flow freely and put down whatever feels relevant to you. Allow yourself time afterward to reflect and reset. You could add on additional resetting exercises such as a few minutes of deep breathing, meditation or visualisation.
If you are looking for some set guidelines on effective journaling, the Center for Journal Therapy website has some suggestions such as their simple acronym: WRITE!
W: What do you want to write about?
R: Review or reflect on it.
I: Investigate your thoughts and feelings
T: Time yourself to write for your current goal
E: Exit strategically and with introspection.