One night, I had a bad dream and woke up angry the next morning. I spent the rest of the day easily triggered and tried to fight my anger. I tried getting rid of my anger by meditating, talking things through, working out, and reading. But I was still angry. At the end of the day, I grabbed a journal and wrote about my day and how angry I felt despite having a good day. Journaling made me feel so much better and I wondered what would happen if I added it to my morning routine. So the following week, I added journaling to my morning routine.
Here’s what happened:
I was able to slow down my thoughts
My thoughts move a mile a second and my pen can’t ever keep up. So I have to be selective about what I’m writing about. If a different thought comes up while I’m in the middle of a sentence, I have to push it aside and know that it’ll come back to me or it wasn’t important.
I was able to acknowledge my thoughts and feelings and get over them quicker
You know those mornings where you wake up and you don’t feel like doing anything? Whenever I had those mornings, I took out my journal and wrote about it. Sometimes I’d wrote a few sentences. Other times wrote pages. Either way, after writing down my feelings, I was able to let go of them and move on.
I was more productive
I was able to word vomit all of my thoughts, so once I started working, I had less thoughts running around to distract me. This helped me focus on important tasks.
I was in a better mood
Writing about any sadness or anxiety I was feeling helped me separate myself from emotions that were holding me down. This made me feel lighter
I felt ready to tackle the day
Because I felt lighter and had a clear mind, I was able to start my day
Don’t set expectations
If I set a minimum or maximum time or number of pages, journaling felt like another thing to cross off on my to-do list. This created feelings of anxiety because if I didn’t have anything to say, I’d freak out about having so much time I needed to fill up. Or if I had a lot to say, I’d try to get too selective with what I wrote or I’d write quicker and not be able to think through thoughts. But when I didn’t set expectations, I felt freer and looked forward to journaling.
Create a different environment
I’ve read that creating a good environment sets you up for success so here’s what I did to create that environment when I journaled.
- Made iced coffee
- Turned on calming music
- burned incense or added essential oils to my diffuser
- opened the blinds and sat facing the window
On the first day, I was worried that doing this whole set up would seem like just more to do. But by the end of the week, setting up the environment got me excited to journal.
Journaling (on its own) is best used as a preventative measure
Once I’ve already gotten worked up and kind of exploded, it doesn’t do much.
University of Rochester Medical Center found that journaling helps control your symptoms and improve your mood. It helps you:
- prioritize problems, fears, and concerns
- track day-to-day symptoms
- by providing a safe space for positive self-talk, and identify negative thoughts/behaviors.
Journaling works best if it’s not the only coping mechanism being used
At the beginning of this blog post, I mentioned that I tried different coping mechanisms to let go of the anger I was experiencing. Finally, when I tried to journaling I felt better. It took the combination of all of the coping mechanisms to make me feel better.
University of Rochester Medical Center also says that journaling is just one aspect of managing mental health. Eating healthy, exercising, getting enough sleep, staying away from alcohol and drugs, and meditating are also required.
If you’d like to start journaling but are worried about figuring out what to write about. Here are a few resources!
Websites with journal prompts:
- 30 Journaling prompts for self-reflection and self-discovery
- Journal prompts for self-reflection
- 32 Journaling prompts for self-discovery