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How Journaling Changed My Life and Improved My Mental Health 

Cup set on open journal with plant and sunny background.

This is a deeply personal story; which shouldn’t be all that surprising. Journaling is personal. The act of sharing our deepest, most inner thoughts and feelings on paper–can be powerful, transformative, and also vulnerable. Even if the words you write stay between you and a piece of paper, journaling forces us to look inside ourselves and sometimes we don’t like what we find. So we choose to not look. But what happens if life hits you square in the jaw with something terrible? Something so earth-shattering that you’re forced to face the demons in your life and clean up the mess life handed to you. When my life was turned upside down with such an event, I turned to journaling. 

My partner of 9 years decided to leave, and I thought my life was over. I couldn’t even picture what life would look like without him. We had a 7-year-old and 1 on the way, and he woke up one day and decided that this life wasn’t for him. There are hardly words that can convey the depth of the hurt, rage, and confusion I felt. But I picked up a pen and paper (along with the broken pieces of our life) and tried to express it anyway. It was the only thing that brought me any kind of relief. 

The more I wrote, the better I felt. Feelings poured out of me like puss from a lanced wound –and I had a lot of feelings. I filled pages and pages of journals like my life depended on it. I wrote every single day for about 2 years and then one day, I had fewer and fewer things to write about regarding my feelings about the events that had unfolded. My emotions felt less potent. I thought about other things. Even happy things. At first, it felt strange. I wanted to keep writing and I found myself journaling about other things going on in my life. It still brought a sense of relief and even joy to write about other things going on in my life. Who would have thought? So, I kept going and continue to do so today. 

Maybe you’ve had something similar happen in your life. Or maybe you deal with just the daily stress that gets to us all. The truth is, none of us escape life unscathed. If you feel like life is also hitting you in the face, journaling for mental health can provide a great outlet and help you process your emotions. Whatever personal reasons for journaling, here are some additional things to consider and help you in your journaling practice. 

Is journaling the same as a diary?

While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there's a nuanced difference between journaling and keeping a diary. Journaling often involves a broader scope, capturing thoughts, ideas, and reflections beyond just daily events. Understanding this distinction allows for a more versatile and enriching journaling experience.

Therapeutic benefits of journaling

Beyond being a mere record-keeping activity, journaling offers therapeutic benefits. Expressing thoughts on paper can be a powerful catharsis, providing a safe outlet for emotions. The act of putting pen to paper can contribute significantly to mental and emotional well-being. Getting a self-care journal and using it exclusively for sorting through your thoughts and emotions can be greatly beneficial.

Documenting life in a journal 

Documenting life in a daily journal is like creating a time capsule of memories. From momentous occasions to small, seemingly insignificant details, capturing life on paper allows for reflection and appreciation. Each entry becomes a snapshot, preserving a slice of your unique journey.

Journaling for self discovery  

Journaling serves as a mirror to the soul, offering a platform for self-reflection and discovery. Exploring your thoughts, aspirations, and fears on paper can lead to profound insights into your own psyche. It's a journey of understanding oneself on a deeper level.

Journaling for anxiety 

In the tumultuous landscape of anxiety, journaling emerges as a therapeutic. Putting anxious thoughts into words not only helps in processing emotions but also provides a tangible record of patterns and triggers. It's a constructive way to navigate the complexities of the mind.

Using a journal for mindfulness 

Journaling can be a mindful practice, grounding you in the present moment. Whether through gratitude journaling or mindfulness prompts, the act of writing fosters awareness and presence. It transforms journaling into a meditative exercise, fostering a sense of calm and clarity.


The joy of reflective journaling 

As time unfolds, the joy of reflective journaling reveals itself. Flipping through past entries is like revisiting old friends, each page holding a piece of your evolving story. The joy lies not just in the act of writing but in the profound connection with your past self.

As you embark on your own journaling journey, may you discover the transformative power it brings, offering a safe place for your thoughts and personal growth.

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