As we come to the end of Mental Health month, take a moment to consider whether you're experiencing high levels of stress, or if your mind feels cluttered. If so, getting your thoughts down on paper can be a helpful means to clear your head.
We have more stress and responsibilities than ever before. With relationships to maintain, activities and obligations, and loved ones counting on us, it can seem challenging to find time for ourselves.
Journaling may help free your mind, provide stress relief, and lead to self-discovery. Writing your thoughts down can help you clarify thoughts and feelings, solve problems more effectively, evoke mindfulness, achieve goals, and strengthen your memory.
You can get started with a simple notebook, or invest in a journal that provides prompts, such as the Practice You journal by Elena Brower. The pages are full of beautiful illustrations and inspirational prompts. This is a great option for beginners or practiced writers.
If you're looking for a more tech-friendly option, everything can be done on an app these days, including journaling! Try one of these fun apps for a different journaling experience: Day One Journal, Journey, Memento, or Penzu.
When you sit down to write, if you feel stuck, start with something simple like writing about your favorite song. Turn on your favorite song, and just sit back and listen. When you’re ready, write down how the song made you feel. Write about a memory associated with the song, or how it transports you to a different place.
Another simple prompt for writing is to make a list, such as places you’ve enjoyed visiting, things you’ve done that you previously thought you could never do, the people you most admire, your favorite books, movies or songs, your top five short-term goals, or top three long-term goals.
You may decide to use a gratitude journal as a tool to track good things in your life. Having your positive words in one place can be helpful when going through a challenging time. Sometimes we need reminders of how beautiful life is. To start, simply write one thing you’re grateful for each day. Gratitude journaling can help keep things in perspective regarding what’s important to you.
More ideas to kickstart a gratitude journal include:
Write about a person in your life that you’re especially grateful for and why.
How is where you are in life today different than a year ago, and what positive changes are you thankful for?
What activities and hobbies do you love?
What about the city or town you live in are you grateful for?
If you want to dig a little deeper into your emotions, there is no safer place to unleash how you feel than your journal. You might try one of these prompts to get personal:
What is the dominant emotion in my life right now?
My saddest memory is . . .
Some of the things that make me happy are . . .
If I could change one thing about my present life, what would it be?
Give journaling a try, and if it's not for you, that's ok! Find your favorite tool for expressing your thoughts and emotions.