Feeling down in January may not just be post-holiday blues. Instead, it could be a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD.
Experts at Delamere believe journaling positively impacts a person’s mental health, helping relieve stress or anxiety.
Martin Preston, founder and chief executive at Private Rehab Clinic Delamere, shares more insight into why journaling can help anyone struggling with their mental health this new year.
What can journaling help with?
Journaling is a form of creative expression and a powerful tool in helping to increase one’s self-esteem, build resilience, reduce stress and feel empowered. Developing a deeper understanding of thought processes is the first step to overcoming trauma or addiction.
Why is it important? How can it help with achieving goals?
How the brain processes traumatic events can often mean they are stored as pictures, emotions or sensations. Therefore, freely expressing these thoughts through art, music, dance, or drama can create a more accurate picture of what’s happening underneath the surface.
What kinds of things should people journal about?
A journal is where you can offload any thoughts and feelings you may have. Often, journaling is a great way to write about everyday life and activities and keep track of day-to-day feelings and emotions.
Maybe you have an important work meeting, or you are going on a date, and you feel a little nervous. Writing down how these events are impacting you can be a way of relieving stress before a big day. You can also write about future goals and aspirations, exciting things you have coming up, and reasons to be proud of yourself.
How can beginners make journaling a habit?
Writing a daily journal is an effective technique for coping with anxiety. It can help to process your thoughts and emotions and reduce feelings of stress. Schedule around five to 10 minutes of journaling daily to help relieve any inner emotions or anxiety.
Journaling is often best when scheduled first thing in the morning. The idea is to get out anything you are thinking first thing, as this will clear your mind, so you are ready to be more centred and focused for the day.
How can they incorporate it into their routines?
Firstly, ensure to keep a pen and paper handy. If you have busy mornings, try to journal as soon as you have some spare time, whether when you travel to work, when you arrive at the office, or during your lunch break.
Even if you don’t have a pen and paper, you can use your phone or computer to write out a couple of lines on your notes page to stay on track with your journaling. Also, whenever you are feeling low or anxious, it is good to use the technique as an outlet for any pent-up emotions.
How can beginners keep themselves from getting discouraged while starting a journal?
When journaling, it’s wise to remind yourself why you are doing it and that the diary is more than just a notebook. It is an emotionally supportive tool that does not judge or restrict you.
While some people may not feel the benefits of journaling at the beginning, research has previously found that those with various medical conditions and anxiety who write online for 15 minutes per day, three days a week, experience increased feelings of well-being and fewer depressive symptoms in as little as one month.
Therefore, persevering for at least four weeks is extremely important to feel any benefits. While you may struggle to incorporate it into your everyday life, to begin with, the long-term positives of journaling are worth sticking it out for.