Does journaling remind you of your teenage years when you poured your heart out into a notebook and stashed it under your pillow to hide it from your siblings? Well, journaling is not an activity confined to teenage years as we have studies that prove regular journaling could help adults cope with anxiety, stress and even depression.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a severe mood disorder characterized by a continued feeling of hopelessness, despair, feelings of guilt, lack of interest in everyday activities, changes in appetite, excessive or lack of sleep and other symptoms. Research shows that depression is one of the most common mood disorders in the U.S. and can be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors.
Journaling to Cope with Depression
Not only is journaling helpful for those teenage moments of angst, jotting down feelings and everyday experiences can be beneficial for adults too, especially for those battling mental and mood disorders like depression.
Studies have shown that journaling can help improve mood and memory, reducing symptoms of anxiety, especially before big events like important presentations or examinations.
Mental health professionals recommend journaling even though the impact may vary from person to person. The overall effect is said to be positive, especially when done in an organized manner.
Some benefits of journaling:
- Understand yourself: Writing down every single emotion and experience will help you understand yourself better. This will, in turn, help your therapist get a deeper understanding of your mind’s working too.
- Manage your thoughts: Reduce the chaos in your mind by writing down every worry that enters your mind. That way, you might even discover a worry that you didn’t know existed.
- Track your symptoms: Writing every day may help you figure out patterns in your moods, triggers and even progress you’ve made over weeks or months of regular journaling.
- Participate in your treatment: When you have better knowledge of what you feel and how you react to certain feelings, you’ll have more input to provide to your therapist. This way, the therapist will find deeper insight into what you are going through and may be able to help you better.
- Feel positive: Depression can bring a gush of negative thoughts and feelings. Cope with it by jotting down positive experiences and feelings as those can have a powerful and positive impact on your troubled mind.
Points to Keep in Mind When Journaling
- Write regularly: Make writing an everyday routine and try to write for at least 15-20 minutes a day.
- Change up the journaling technique: If jotting down your thoughts becomes mundane, try a different technique by writing a letter to yourself or to your favorite grandparent who is no longer with you. You could also write positive and encouraging words that your loved ones would typically say to you.
- Don’t go back to negative entries: If you do end up writing about negative feelings or experiences, try not to reread them. Jot them down and move on.
- Keep your journal handy: Have your journal and pen handy throughout the day because you do not know when you will feel like writing. You could also write digitally, on a laptop or tablet.
Regardless of whether you decide to keep your journal private or share it with your therapist, make sure you write regularly because even though journaling is not a cure-all for depression, it can complement the medications and therapy you undergo to battle this severe condition.
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Robinson, K. M. (n.d.). How Writing in a Journal Helps Manage Depression. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/depression/features/writing-your-way-out-of-depression#1
83 Benefits of Journaling for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Management (PDF). (2018, May 14). Retrieved from https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/benefits-of-journaling/
Journaling for Mental Health. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=4552&ContentTypeID=1
Depression. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml