Date 07.03.2023

Different types of journaling to improve well-being

Different types of journaling to improve well-being

Journaling is an easy and accessible way to build awareness and cultivate healthy habits. A study found that adults with anxiety and other medical conditions who kept a journal saw greater improvements in well-being than the non-journaling control group. Although journaling cannot address or cure every health concern, writing down your thoughts and feelings can be extremely helpful to manage anxiety or other well-being concerns you may have. 

But what is the difference between keeping a diary and journaling? A diary is more used for daily recording and play-by-play of events in your life. Journaling is a creative and interpretive space to record your thoughts, feelings, goals and observations. According to Meera Watts, founder and CEO of Siddhi Yoga, “journaling is essentially mindfulness in action, since it gives us a chance to proactively and healthily process our emotions.”

Overall, here are some benefits of journaling that help improve your overall well-being:

  • Facilitates expression of thoughts and emotions
  • Helps with problem solving
  • Makes you stay positive
  • Reduces feelings of loneliness
  • Fights symptoms of physical illness
  • Helps treat depression
  • Aids in coping with trauma
  • Fights symptoms of physical illness
  • Lowers blood pressure

At healf, we see the value in keeping the Mind balanced as part of overall healthy living. Through journaling, you can better relieve day-to-day tension and make daily challenges seem more manageable. While there is no “right way” to journal, we have put together a few different types of journaling to help you get started on your journaling journey.

Different types of journaling and its benefits

Here are some different ways to journal and what each type of journaling is great for based on your specific health goal.

Freewriting

What is it good for?

  • Clearing your mind
  • Enhancing creativity

What does it involve?

  • Set a time or length limit and write your thoughts down as they come to you
  • Can even write “I don’t know what to write” over and over again
  • No topic is set, just write a stream-of-consciousness about whatever crosses your mind

Expressive writing

What is it good for?

  • Working through difficult life experiences
  • Expressing fears, anxieties and hardships
  • Helps you be more present and quiet your mind
  • Improves immune functions

What does it involve?

  • Recommended to set 15-20 minutes a day 3-4 times a week
  • Journal specifically about traumatic events or negative emotions

Note: It is important to not engage in expressive writing every day. One study found that engaging with your trauma too often can cause you to ruminate on negative feelings which leads to worse mental and physical health overall.

Gratitude journaling

What is it good for?

  • Boosting your mood
  • Reduces stress and depression
  • Improves sleep
  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Lowers fatigue

What does it involve?

  • Write about the things you are thankful for
  • Focus on the positive aspects of your life
  • Set aside 15 minutes 3 times a week

Thought diary

What is it good for?

  • Getting mentally “unstuck”
  • Used in cognitive behavioral therapy

What does it involve?

  • Keep a thought diary with you at all times
  • Whenever you experience a negative emotion, take a minute to write an entry
  • Write down the date of the emotion, the situation, emotion intensity
  • Go back and evaluate what went through your mind and why it affected you in the way that it did

Unsent letter journaling

What is it good for?

  • Healing a relationship
  • Processing and dealing with thoughts and feelings you wish you could share with someone but feel as though you cannot

What does it involve?

  • Write a letter to the person you are feeling either positively or negatively about
  • Share feelings of anger, frustration or sadness
  • Can send the letter if you want to, but you do not have to
  • A study found that you still gain the benefits of expressing your feelings of gratitude to someone whether or not you actually tell them

Drawing journaling

What is it good for?

  • Focusing on creative energy
  • De-stresses the mind and minimizes self-criticism, comparison or lofty goal-setting
  • Allows the creative part of the self to guide your feelings

What does it involve?

  • Using a freestyle notebook to draw your thoughts and intentions
  • Less structured words and sentences and more flow-oriented with drawings and doodles

Conclusion

Overall, no matter what type of journaling you do, it is important to be honest with yourself when journaling. As Kara Nassour, a licensed professional counselor, says “your journal is a private space where you can be angry, selfish, scared, pitiful, or even happy or vindictive.” While we all have different and busy schedules, even writing for a few minutes a day can significantly benefit overall wellbeing.

Here are a few products we recommend to help you get started on your journaling journey:

Sources

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