Writing a Mental Health Journal

Writing down your daily thoughts and feelings can help clear your mind, track your progress and identify any triggers. If you are able to spot the triggers it can help you recognise when you are becoming unwell. Triggers and warning signs can be very personal so it may take you a while to work out what yours are.

There are many variations available both printed and online so find the one that best suits you. This can also be useful for children and young people who are developing and understanding their thoughts and feelings. They can be fun to fill in and some have elements that you can colour and act as mini trackers so are a great visual aide.

A journal can be a useful tool for people who find it difficult to discuss their thoughts and emotions with a therapist or family and friends as they are able to share the journal without the need to articulate everything they have experienced.

How do you Maintain a Mental Health Journal?

  • Try to write every day. To encourage yourself to do this, try and set aside a few minutes each day
  • Make it easy by keeping a pen and paper handy at all times so you are able to jot down your thoughts when you want
  • Write whatever feels right
  •  Use your journal as you see fit – this can be to keep it private or share with friends, family or your therapist

Lots of people in history have kept detailed journals of their lives. These journals have served two purposes – one is a permanent record for posterity and the other is a cathartic release for the person writing it. You may feel you don’t need either but your mental health can benefit. Regular writing can make you feel good and it helps you re-live the events you have experienced in a safe environment where you can process them without fear or stress.

Helping Anxiety

Writing a journal can have a positive impact on your anxiety through:

  • Calming and clearing your mind
  • Releasing pent-up feelings and everyday stress
  •  Letting go of negative thoughts
  • Exploring your experiences with anxiety
  •  Writing about your struggles and successes
  •  Enhancing your self-awareness and help you to recognise your triggers
  • Track your progress

The Benefits

Overall, journaling and expressive writing has been found to:

  • Boost your mood
  • Enhance your sense of well-being
  • Reduce symptoms of depression before an important event (like an exam)
  • Reduce intrusion and avoidance symptoms
  •  Improve your working memory (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005)