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The "Joy" of Journaling

When I suggest a journaling homework assignment to my clients, I often hear:

“Really, you actually want me to journal? I honestly can’t do that.

I’ve tried before and it just doesn’t work for me.”

A suggestion to journal can often cause people to shrink back in fear, feel defensive or be certain they cannot complete the assignment.

Some people even fear journaling about experiences, thoughts or emotions – afraid that it will “just make everything worse” or more intense.

Have no fear, journaling can not only be beneficial but it can also be accessible to you!

There is a plethora of research projects on the benefits of journaling showing that:

Journal sitting on cozy bed
What do you need to feel cozy when you're journaling?

  • Journaling can be a way to record daily/weekly/annual events in your life.

  • Journaling can be a way to process through certain life circumstances.

  • Journaling is a great way to explore and work through emotions.

  • Journaling is an avenue to process negative thoughts/feelings/experiences by releasing them.

  • Journaling can assist when you tend to ruminate on situations or relationships.

  • Journaling can help you find clarity when needing to make decisions.

  • Journaling, according to some research, seems to be effective in reducing anxiety and depression.

John Eldridge, author, counselor, teacher and president of Wild at Heart Ministries states the following about journaling in his book Resilient:

  • Journaling reduces stress in the body, soul and spirit.

  • Journaling improves our immune system function and overall health.

  • Journaling keeps our memory sharp, improves mental clarity and boosts our mood.

  • Journaling can strengthen our emotional functioning, giving us a better grip on our own emotions.

How do I get started?

Having an open “I will try this” type of attitude can often help begin your experience with journaling.

It’s also helpful to leave negative thoughts and feelings about journaling behind and just give it a try!

Pro tip: you don’t have to begin by journaling pages and pages!

Start with small steps.

Buy a journal that is inviting to you (flowers, colors, fonts, etc.)

Try just writing some words or bulleted statements.

If you are creative, what about drawing pictures in your journal depicting what you are currently dealing with in your life?

Or, begin with a gratitude journal by writing things you are thankful for and why.

You can also purchase journaling books that prompt you with questions similar to the following to get you started:

  • Today I am…..

  • Yesterday I was…..

  • I am becoming….

  • The parts of me I would never share with others are….

  • What are the masks that I wear?

  • My authentic self can be described as…..

  • My purpose for being in this place right now is….

  • What does the present moment offer me?

  • Where do I want to go next?

  • What do I need?

  • Who am I?

  • What is my favorite memory?

  • Who has made a difference in my life?

Are you convinced yet that journaling is for you?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be totally sold on journaling to try it.

You don’t even have to “want” to journal, need to be motivated to journal, nor do you have to be “successful” in journaling (but p.s. there is no way you can fail!).

Start with small steps: Pray about journaling, asking God for direction.

Begin journaling once a week or work to write 2 sentences in your journal every day.

It doesn’t matter how you start – JUST START!

Please Note: If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest hospital for emergency services or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.


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