The Benefits of Journaling for Mental Health (Plus Different Types)
When most people think of journaling, they think of keeping a diary. And while this is certainly one form of journaling, there are many other ways of doing it. Plus, did you know that journaling can have a lot of benefits for your mental health?
Whether you’re new to journaling or a dedicated journaler, the benefits of journaling are worth learning about and considering.
Since there are so many types of journaling out there, you can journal in whatever way makes you comfortable. And each type also has its own benefits and uses. Most of them can be done in any blank journal or notebook, although you can also get journals designed for one specific purpose (ie. dream journals).
Of course, many of journaling’s benefits apply to all types of journals. Read on to learn more about the benefits of journaling, as well as some of the different types available.
The general benefits of journaling
No matter what type of journaling you do, from diaries to goal journals, there is a variety of benefits that are available.
For starters, if you suffer from mental health problems (and even some physical ones), a journal can be a great way to keep track of your symptoms. This helps you know when you’re doing well, and also makes it easier to treat or address symptoms when they come up.
Journaling can also be a great way to relieve stress. By writing out things that are stressing or worrying you, you have an outlet to express those emotions.
While writing these things out, you can also take the opportunity to process things that have happened recently, or to explore thoughts that have been bugging you. Journaling for mental health gives you a great way to explore your internal thoughts and feelings, without needing someone else (not that there’s anything wrong with needing some help!).
Another common use of mental health journaling, throughout all types, is to promote positive thoughts. You could write about things you are grateful for, or good things that have happened, or simply good things you want to happen.
By writing about good things and promoting more positive thinking, you can train your brain to think more positively, which can obviously be helpful in many ways.
Lastly, many types of journaling can be good for helping you figure out your priorities, and keeping track of them. This helps you focus on what is most important to you in your life.
Types of journaling
Now that you know some of the general benefits of journaling, let’s take a look at some types of journaling, and the benefits and uses of each. This is not an exhaustive list, as there are a lot of different types out there!
“Diaries” or blank journals
These types of journals are just what you think they are: a blank page for you to write about your life, thoughts, feelings, and stressors.
Although many people view diaries as immature or useless, they’re actually not. And if you don’t like the word “diary”, that’s fine: just call it a blank journal.
This type of journaling gives you a space to just write about whatever is on your mind. It is incredibly open-ended, leaving you with a lot of possibilities. It also has most of the benefits I listed above, and is one of the best types of journaling for mental health.
If you don’t know what a dream journal is, it’s a dedicated journal that you write in as soon as you wake up. You write down as much as you can remember of your dreams— and nothing else! It’s important to keep your types of journaling separate, and only use one journal for one thing at a time.
Doing this will help you remember your dreams more, even if you don’t write them down some days. Dreams are products of the subconscious, and as such, often have things to tell us. If you can remember your dreams more, you might be able to learn what they’re trying to tell you.
Dream journaling can also be helpful with therapy, especially therapy centered around trauma or PTSD. Remembering your dreams more will give you an opportunity to process them, and maybe help you as you move along in your therapy journey.
When it comes to mental health journaling, this is one of the most direct, albeit potentially difficult, forms. It’s just what it sounds like: a journal where you write things related to trauma.
This could be writing out past memories, processing feelings, identifying different parts of yourself and your trauma, writing letters to heal, and more.
This type of work is difficult and emotionally turbulent. When dealing with something as tough as trauma, it’s a good idea to reach out for help. Trauma journaling in conjunction with a therapist could be very beneficial for you.
Gratitude journals are one of the best ways to promote positive thinking. They’re simple: you write down things, events, people, places, etc. that you are grateful for.
Doing this helps remind you of all the good things in life, so you don’t get overwhelmed by the bad. By keeping a gratitude journal, you can practice positive thinking, and hopefully translate that into having a more positive outlook on life.
This can be done in any blank journal, but there are also plenty of gratitude journals out there designed specifically for this purpose.
This is one of the types of journaling that some swear by, and others hate. But I would argue that, no matter your beliefs, it can be beneficial, just like any other type of journaling.
Manifestation journals are a place where you write out all of the things you would like to happen. These can be career goals, personal goals, relationships, or anything you want.
Some people believe that by writing these things down, you are putting the intention for them out into the universe, and if you do it enough, they will happen (aka manifest).
Whether or not you believe that, there’s one key component: if you are writing down what you would like to happen, you are more likely to make it happen. This is because, consciously or not, you will be thinking about it more, and thinking about how you can make it happen.
So whether through the universe’s mechanisms or your own doings, keeping a manifestation journal can help you work toward what you want your life to be like.
Keeping a goal journal is a simple way to keep track of your goals, what steps you need to take to achieve them, and how much progress you’ve made.
You can use this for all sorts of goals: personal, professional, creative, relationship, etc. It provides you with a central location to keep track of all the things you want to work toward in your life.
Keeping a goal journal also has one of the best benefits of journaling: it can help with motivation and organization.
You don’t have to be creative or artistic to keep a creative journal. Everyone can benefit from a little creativity, and the nice thing about a journal is that other people don’t have to see it. So you’re free to do whatever you like without worrying about skill level.
A creative journal can be used for short stories, poems, vignettes, sketching, coloring, comics, and basically anything else you want. It gives you an outlet and helps stretch your creative muscles, which can have a lot of benefits for your mental health.
While I can’t get into all the types of journaling today, there are certainly others that at least deserve a mention:
Journals for letters
Journaling for mental health
Whatever type (or types) of journaling you enjoy, you will find many of the benefits of journaling apply. It’s a simple practice that can really help you process life and improve your mental health.
Remember that you should try to keep different types of journaling separate. Don’t mix a dream journal and a plant journal!
And, most importantly, remember that journaling is for you. You can do it in whatever way you feel most comfortable with, so that you can get the best benefits possible.
Do you really like journaling? Have questions about it? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know by leaving a comment below or tagging us on social media (@therapeutichealingjourney on Instagram and @llctherapeutic on Twitter).