Journaling for Mental Health
March 13, 2023
Kaitlin Wightman-Ausman, MT-BC, Music Therapist
Writing as Therapy
Writing has been around for thousands of years and is typically a skill we learn at a young age. We often associate writing with academic or work settings, when in fact, the act of writing can be a powerful therapeutic tool. Writing, specifically journaling, can have a significant impact on our mental wellness. As a form of self-expression, studies show that journaling can decrease the stress hormone, cortisol, boost memory, and improve emotional intelligence.1 Journaling gives our thoughts a place to go. When something feels really big or overwhelming, getting it on paper can make the situation feel more manageable. Also, there is no right or wrong way to do it!
7 Journaling Tips
While the actual act of writing is somewhat second nature, journaling can feel daunting for folks who are just getting started. Here are some tips to start journaling or to continue your journaling practice.
1. Find a private, comfortable space (maybe light a candle or turn on some soft music).
2. Get a journal or notebook (sometimes carrying it with you helps to build the routine).
3. Date every entry (this helps to recognize patterns or cycles).
4. Keep what you write (you never know when past journal entries will inspire you).
5. You can free flow, start with a journal prompt or something more structured like a “sentence-stem” (click here for ideas).
6. Write quickly (this helps prevent “writer’s block” and tames the inner critic).
7. Tell the complete truth (your journal will not judge you and your thoughts are just for you).
Please note: If you are unable to or prefer not to physically write you can type or dictate your journal entry. You will still benefit from getting your thoughts out of your brain and into another space.
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