Journaling for Mental Health

How to Calm Your Mind Through Writing

Rachel Goding

Fun fact: your brain processes 70,000 thoughts in a single day. You may read that and think, “wow that’s really cool,” but you could also see that and think that it’s overwhelming. All of us have experienced our minds racing with what feels like a million thoughts a minute. A tried-and-true strategy that I’ve founds helps me when the world feels like chaos is to journal my thoughts. There are several known benefits to making journaling a habit in your life:

The Benefits of Journaling

  • Managing anxiety
  • Reducing stress
  • Coping with depression
  • Helps you prioritize problems
  • Tracks symptoms so you can recognize certain triggers
  • Provides opportunity for positive self-talk
  • Helps you identify when you experience negative thoughts and behaviors

There is no “one size fits all” method when it comes to journaling. Maybe you enjoy having prompts, so you seek out a structured book that includes questions to guide your writing. Some individuals, like me, prefer to free-write. When I’m feeling particularly stressed about a big decision I must make, I like to create a pros and cons list. If I’m feeling a lot of different emotions all at once, writing down everything I’m feeling in the moment helps me address each thought individually. The process of journaling can be used in so many different ways to take more control of your emotions and improve your mental health.

It’s up to you how you use journaling as a coping strategy, and it may take some trial and error to figure out what works best for you. Setting aside even a few minutes a day, week, or month can make all the difference. Putting words (or drawings) onto paper can provide serious mental clarity.

Tips for Incorporating Journaling as a New Practice

  • Start small
  • Don’t get hung up on structure
  • Write freely without judgement