If you’ve ever had therapy, it’s very likely that your therapist suggested keeping a health journal or diary as part of your treatment.
In general, there are many reasons why people might write a journal. Some people do it simply as a way of documenting daily experiences; others, meanwhile, may do it to gain a better understanding of themselves.
Journaling is a simple, yet effective strategy that can help you work on your mental and physical health. This is because by expressing these thoughts in the form of writing, sketching or painting, you often gain more clarity of thought, especially in regard to what you’re struggling with at that moment.
It can be done from the comfort of your home, office or wherever you feel most at ease.
The benefits of journaling
Whether you’re undergoing treatment for addiction or a mental health disorder, or you just want to get to know yourself better and improve your general well-being, the benefits of journaling are plentiful.
Reflecting on your experiences and expressing yourself can do wonders for your emotional well-being.
Here are some of the main benefits:
Greater clarity of thought
By creating a visual of your feelings and emotions and what you want to achieve, it can help you to see the bigger picture. What’s more, writing things down can help you to get more organised in every aspect of your life, whether at home, at work or in your social life.
If you struggle with stress or anxiety, it can feel like you have no control over your thoughts. Getting caught up in a spiral can mean it feels like you never have control. You may find that you can’t finish things that you’ve started, or you cannot see things through.
Writing things down helps you organise your life better and look at your priorities – and reassess them if necessary.
Identify triggers and harmful behaviours
Journaling can help you to identify specific behavioural patterns that could be harming you. Over time, if you note how you respond to certain situations, patterns will start to emerge. This, in turn, can help you to find ways to work on your responses in future to give better outcomes.
This is especially useful in the case of addiction and stress as it can help you first to identify your triggers, and then learn how to spot them earlier and act differently when faced with them again in the future. This could mean reducing contact with certain individuals and increasing the time you spend doing the things you love.
For those who have been through traumatic events, the biggest temptation is to try to suppress it. However, this can have major consequences in the future, namely panic attacks, uncontrolled anger, withdrawal or resorting to substance abuse.
Instead, documenting the trauma in your own terms and how you feel about it can help you to calmly process your emotions at your own pace and identify situations which cause you to relive the unpleasant memories.
That said, journaling can inadvertently create more distress if not undertaken with the help of a mental health professional.
Journaling is not only about noting the bad things that you’re going through. Don’t forget to write down the good things too – no matter how small.
The breakfast your partner made you in bed, the nice text message you got from your colleague, the man who smiled at you on the train… These small moments are also worth recognising and celebrating. They can help us to put the negative moments into perspective and steer our focus away from any negativity and stress.
Noting down your thoughts allows you to reflect both on the present moment but also allows you to see how much you’ve learned and how far you’ve come.
Self-awareness is invaluable. Knowing who you are and where you’ve come from means you’re much better equipped to face challenges when they arise.
Journaling, a key part of therapy
Nowadays, journaling serves as a complementary tool to just about any therapeutic approach, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
This is because keeping a therapeutic journal can help you tap into deep-set emotions
How do you start journaling?
Keeping a journal is easy. The way you journal is completely up to you; the key is to just see where it takes you and not get bogged down by giving yourself rules to follow.
Journaling in at least a semi-regular way is most beneficial, even if it’s just once a week. But the fact that you decided to journal at all can be empowering in itself and set you on the path to better overall health and well-being.
Even if you’re not good at writing, there are different ways you can journal too. You could express your thought in alternative ways such as through sketching or speaking out loud and recording your speech for a few minutes at a time.
Storing your entries is very important because you need to be able to review your journal periodically. How often you do this is your choice, but looking back and reflecting allows you to measure personal progress and recognise patterns.
Therapeutic treatment at White River Manor
At White River Manor, we take a varied approach to therapy, incorporating many different methods and techniques that we believe have the best chance of helping clients to overcome their addiction – including journaling.
Every treatment plan is personalised according to each client’s needs and preferences and executed by our expert team of dedicated professionals.
If you want to find out how our therapies can help you, please get in touch today!