What is Journal Therapy?

Journal therapy is used by many therapists to help their patients express their thoughts and emotions in written words. This is also called writing therapy. Journal therapy helps to open a dialogue between patients and therapists, which can help improve mental state, increase emotional capacity, and increase overall feelings of well-being.

Writing can also be done for personal benefit and does not need to be supervised by a therapist in order to receive the full benefits from the writing exercises. Getting our thoughts and emotions out of our heads and down in some written form allows us to gain a healthy perspective. And the emotional benefits of writing are usually felt in the form of relief and understanding. Writing reduces stress as it helps individuals process their thoughts and emotions. 

Research shows that writers experience depression at a rate higher than the general public. Depression is a debilitating mental health disorder that affects many people other than writers alone. Depression often leads to suicidal ideation which can lead to suicide attempts.  Mental health treatment can help.

If you are experiencing an emergency, please call your doctor, 911 or visit an Emergency Room for immediate treatment. To receive instant supportive text messages to your phone, text HOME to 741741 (USA only), text HOME to 686868 (Canada only), or follow this link here.

How to Start Writing Today

Tips to start writing daily include having a journal, whether it is a physical or a journal on your computer does not matter - Just find something that you can use daily. Blogging on Mad Pride Bloggers is a great way to start writing. Just find a topic that you are comfortable with and begin. You might want to try eliminating distractions. Forming a daily or weekly ritual in which you practice writing helps. This helps keep the creative juices moving. 

Subjects to write about:

  1. Your thoughts and feelings on any topic
  2. Your passions and ideas about the world around you
  3. Your vision of how you want to see the world around you
  4. Family and friends and whoever supports you
  5. Memories from your past
  6. Plans and hopes for the future
4 Fun Journal Exercises

Here are four journal activities:

  1. Writing Narratives
  2. Freestyle Writing
  3. Writing Your Stream of Consciousness or Your Inner Monologue
  4. Keeping a Dream Journal.

These tools are effective at opening up the creative juices and helping you to better understand yourself.

Writing Narratives 

Narratives, or telling a story in first person, provide an account of connected events or tell a story. Narrative writing is not only therapeutic but also helps us connect events with emotions, meaning we understand our feelings better by the experiences we just had. Because poems are rarely narrated, and therefore no story telling, it is theorized that this takes away from the benefits of writing because we do not connect events to emotions.

Writing narratives allows you to describe a personal experience, retell a story you know, or tell a brand new tale. There are few rules for narrative writing and creating a unique piece as the final goal is all you can really ask for. So dig deep. Narratives are typically written in first-person format, using I to describe the details of the story. Try writing your first narrative today. Writing narratives can be very therapeutic and insightful for the author because retelling a story with strong emotions helps us put a healthy spin on the story, creating clarity and peace of mind for our own selves in the process. 

Freewriting

Freestyle is a form of writing where you write for a specific amount of time, no longer than fifteen minutes, or sometimes fill a certain number of pages. You do not stop writing until fifteen minutes have passed, or until the pages have all been written. Subject matter is not the important factor in this form of writing. It simply helps you to write without judgement. With this writing form, sometimes repressed thoughts and emotions surface. However, it could also be nonsense. The point of the exercise is to stop editing your thoughts and feelings.

Writing Your Inner Monologue 

Another journal idea involves writing down your inner monologue. With this writing technique, you write out your stream of thoughts as your thoughts appear to you in your mind. This helps you to see the flow of your thoughts. This technique has been called "stream of consciousness," a term coined by philosopher and psychologist William James in The Principles of Psychology (1890). Many often use the terms stream of consciousness and inner monologue as synonyms.

Keeping a Dream Journal

Keeping a dream journal is a fun activity. Basically, you simply write down your dreams in a dream journal upon waking up in the mornings or after you sleep. You can look up meanings and explanations from the internet or books about symbols found in your dreams, which can provide a lot of insight into how you are feeling. Dream journals can be very personal. Keeping a dream journal requires self-discipline but once the habit is created, it can be a lifelong treasure for you. 

Writing Activities to Gain Control of Your Anxiety

Journaling about your anxieties helps you to control your symptoms and improve your mood. It also helps you to prioritize problems, fears, and concerns. In addition, it helps with tracking any symptoms on a day-to-day basis so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control your triggers. Moreover, journaling about stress provides an opportunity for positive self-talk. It also identifies negative thinking patterns and gives you an opportunity to change those thoughts into positive thinking. 

Expressive writing is a form of therapy in which individuals write about their thoughts and feelings related to a personally stressful or traumatic life experience. Expressive writing is sometimes referred to as written disclosure, because writers are instructed to disclose personal information, thoughts, and feelings.

Journaling and expressive writing about your anxieties is a great tool to gain a fresh perspective and to master your emotions. Start by journaling for five to fifteen minutes at most about your anxieties. Jot down whatever is causing you stress or bothering you. Try to keep writing until you feel you feel relief but avoid the habit of rumination. Rumination is the process of continuously thinking about the same thoughts, which tend to be sad or dark. 

A habit of rumination can be dangerous to your mental health, as it can prolong or intensify depression as well as impair your ability to think and process emotions. Try to avoid this habit. This is why it is a good idea to just write for 5 to 15 minutes at most about your anxieties. 

Psychologically, expressive writing appears to help people better cope with the symptoms of PTSD, such as anxiety and anger. Physically, journaling can make a difference as well, reducing body tension and restoring focus. By helping people manage and learn from negative experiences, writing strengthens their immune systems as well as their minds. Journaling about your anxieties should help you gain better understanding of your stress and anxieties and gain better focus.

Have You Tried Journal Therapy?
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