How to Journal for Mental Health: A Helpful Guide

Your therapist has probably asked you to keep a journal about how you’re doing. But, you don’t know how to journal for mental health. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as you might think. The most important thing is the desire to get off your chest and see what’s bubbling right beneath the surface. If you can do that, your journey journaling will be much smoother than you realize.

How to Journal for Mental Health?

Should you use pen and paper or an electronic device?

How you envision writing in a journal probably depends on how old you are. If you have a few gray hairs, you probably are thinking about using a pen and paper. If you’re the age of someone who can’t remember a time without the internet, you’re probably leaning more towards using an electronic device for journaling.

The choice is completely yours, and there is no right or wrong way to begin writing in a journal. Some of you will want to journal using your smartphone because it’s with you everywhere you go. There’s nothing wrong with journaling using a smartphone, computer, or even a tablet. You can even use an old-school electric typewriter if that suits your fancy.

If you’re the type who feels better writing something longhand, then buy a notebook and write in it. You can choose a diary type of notebook or just a plain notebook like the ones you used in school. There’s no right or wrong piece of paper to write on. You can even jot down your journal on an old brown paper bag if that’s all you have.

Don’t over-scrutinize your writing

When you’re learning how to journal for mental health, you might feel pressured into writing a polished piece that’s fit for a museum. What you’re creating isn’t going to get criticized or graded by anyone. It’s okay if your thoughts are crudely written down and if they’re not polished. You don’t even need to edit your journal entries. Are your journal entries filled with grammar and spelling mistakes? Who cares. No one is grading you, and it’s not a big deal at all.

You don’t have to edit your journal entries. You might never read it again. You could be the only person who reads what you write in your journal. It’s about putting your thoughts down and how you’re feeling, not about the quality of your writing.

Don’t be surprised if you find that your writing improves over time, though. Simply, the act of writing every day will cause your writing to improve. So, if writing doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t be surprised. After a couple of years, you find yourself wanting to write that full-length novel that’s been dying to get out of you.

There are no word count requirements when keeping a journal

Okay, so you probably remember the day when you had to write a thousand-word essay for a science project. You don’t need to worry about word counts when you’re keeping a journal. You can write as many or as few words as you want. Do you only feel like writing a hundred words today? There’s nothing wrong with that.

mental health

You should also allow yourself to write as freely in your journal as you want to. If you’re using an electronic device to write in your journal, space isn’t going to be a concern. However, if you’re using pen and paper, you might feel like you’re restricted to only a certain number of pages. Don’t corner yourself into thinking that you can only write a certain amount of words. If you feel wordy one day, let it rip and write as much as you want. The goal here is to get everything off your chest and not how many words you’re writing.

Allow yourself to vent as much as you want

Sometimes, when people learn how to journal for mental health, they think that there’s a need to hold back. What happens if your spouse or someone else gets their grubby hands on your journal? Don’t put yourself in such a position where you can’t vent and let it all hang out. The reason you’re journaling to begin with is so that you’re able to get everything off your chest.

If you’re writing in an app, password protect it so no one else can read what you’re writing if that’s a concern you have. You need to allow the free flow of emotions to go unhindered or you’ll end up not getting all the benefits from keeping a journal. That means you write down everything about everyone and don’t sugar coat any of it.

journal for mental health

Venting is allowed in your journal. It doesn’t matter how small the issue or how big it is; let it flow like a river from within you. If an entire journal entry is nothing but ranting and raving, that’s okay, too. The main thing that you realize is that all of this is therapeutic, and there’s no wrong way to journal. So, if the barista at your favorite coffee shop was grumpy and it ruined your day, jot that down and get it off your chest.

Journaling is about discovering who you are

Most of us have no idea who we really are. Our entire lives are about surprising our emotions so that we can go on with our daily lives. You’re about to take off a huge scab and along with it there will be plenty of pain and it’s going to be a mess. You are who you are and just because you discover yourself doesn’t mean that some parts of your life has to end.

You need to be raw. Cut the baloney out of your life with this one daily activity, and give yourself space to grow. Keeping a journal is where the rubber meets the road, and it’s where you discover who you really are. Who are you? Right now, you think you know the answer to that question, but if you haven’t been keeping a journal, you don’t know. If you knew, you wouldn’t be here right now.

Your words are the seeds of a new tomorrow

The foundation of your life tomorrow begins with learning how to journal for mental health today. The seeds you sow today will be what you harvest in the future. If you take having a journal seriously, you’ll discover all new aspects of who you are. There’s a person underneath the shell of who you think you are, and that person is begging to come out.

Just remember that keeping a journal is something that you need to do daily. Set aside a little time every day where you can write about how you’re feeling and how you processed everything. Those moments right now might not seem very important, but you’ll notice how keeping a journal has changed your life if you stick to it for a number of years.