by Grace Carter: How aware are you of the constant chatter that’s running through your head at seemingly all hours of the day?
Don’t worry; you’re not alone.
This is something that every single human being in the world has, almost like a constant monologue or dialogue that commentates everything that we do.
Sometimes we’re fully aware of it.
Sometimes it will just be there without us realising.
In some cases, it can stop you from concentrating, or it can help you really get into the zone.
However, if you’re an individual suffering from a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety, this voice can seem to be doing more harm than good, constantly self-criticizing, forcing you to doubt yourself, your decisions and can even lead you holding yourself back from life decisions or social events.
After all, over 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression and anxiety, and it’s infamous for being the leading disability, which is why it’s important for you to remember that you’re not alone.
However, there are several things you can do to help your symptoms, benefiting and improving your day-to-day life.
One of these is keeping a thought journal; a form of written self-therapy that can help you to tune into your inner monologue, allowing you to understand it more clearly, acknowledge it and move forward.
Today, we’re going to explore the ins and outs of this thought journal process, informing you on how it can benefit your mental conditions, allowing you to live a happier, healthier life.
What is a Thought Journal?
‘Journaling’ is a writing practice that has existed for thousands of years, dating back to Buddhist traditions which can be traced to being over 5,000 years old.
The practice of writing and ‘keeping a diary’ have been prominent throughout human history, but it’s only until recently, since the invention and introduction of digital devices, that many of us have fallen out of practice when it comes to handwritten words.
Nowadays, journaling now refers to the practice of keeping said diary, giving you a space to present your thoughts, feelings, life circumstances, emotions or anything else you want to talk about in a way where you’re free from the judgement of others and can really be yourself.
The practice itself can vary dramatically from between individuals.
Some people will live to write every single day, which is the best way to receive the most mental benefit, whereas others will write every now and then, which is a great way to release stress when it’s building up; it’s completely down to you and how you feel.
Why Is a Thought Journal Beneficial?
As we mentioned above, a thought journal is an ideal place to talk about your thoughts and feelings.
If you’re going about your day, it can be easy to feel all your emotions building up inside you, but without talking about them or releasing them, these can quickly become overwhelming, leading you to feel overpowered by your own mind.
By journaling, you’re giving yourself space to breathe and vent these emotions and feelings into a place where nobody else can judge you or criticize the way you’re feeling.
When you’re going about your day, it can be difficult to take the time to comprehend and acknowledge these thoughts and feelings, which can commonly lead you to feel confused about how or why you feel the way you do.
“Through thought journaling, you can become far more observant when it comes to acknowledging these states of mind, all in all enabling you to become one with your mind, fully in-tune and fully in control, which provides the obvious benefits of allowing you to address your depression” says Chloe Evans, a health writer for Revieweal.
Are There Any Downsides to Thought Journaling?
Firstly, it’s important to mention that this is a technique and practice that might not work for everybody.
When it comes to depression, every single person’s case is different and unique to them, meaning there’s no cure-all solution, which means this practice might not work for everybody.
Additionally, if you’re suffering from a learning disability, the actual practice of writing may prove difficult in itself, although it’s worth noting that that speech-to-text software does exist to make this easier.
Finally, writing about negative events or thoughts in your thought journal can sometimes mean that you’re focusing on the negative aspects of your life, which in turn can lead you to feel more stress than before.
“The stress of writing about negative events can be easily overcome but making sure that you remain positive with your writing by brainstorming solutions to your problems and seeing the positive side of a negative situation, no matter how small or hard to find that may be,” says Michelle Turner, a health writer for Eliteassignmenthelp.
Getting Started with Thought Journaling
There are two things that you’ll need to implement when it comes to starting your own thought journal; getting started and maintaining the habit.
Once you’ve mastered these two things, you’ll be well on your way to positively changing your life.
Firstly, you’re going to want to invest in a book or thought journal that you enjoy and find visually appealing, making it far more likely that you’re going to use it.
Start by writing in your thought journal for 20 minutes a day if you can and try setting a time that you’re going to write every day.
One of the best ways to do this is to incorporate it into your bedtime routine, meaning you can reflect easily on the day that you’ve just had while all the thoughts and feelings are clear in your mind.
You don’t have to write full sentences either if you don’t want to. Instead, even bullet-pointing how you feel can be a great way to start getting your thoughts and feelings down on paper, allowing the rest to come naturally.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure that you’re remaining positive about the things that you’re talking about.
“Writing about depression and the thoughts and emotions that go in your head may not necessarily be easy, but exploring ways that this can be positive, no matter how small that is, is incredibly beneficial to your well-being,” says Harry Davis, a well-being writer for TopCanadianWriters.
Journaling Prompts for Depression
It can be very difficult when you’re starting out to think about what you should be writing about, and you may find you’re struggling to get words onto your thought journal.
However, below are a few prompts you can use to help you get started, even if you’re struggling just for a day;
- Write down five positive things that have happened in your day
- Write three things that you’re grateful for in your day
- Write a letter to yourself
- Write a letter to a loved one (you don’t have to send it)
- Talk about a dream you had
- Write down some goals for tomorrow
- Write about the best thing you achieved that day
- Write about your emotions and think of why you feel that way
- Write about a happy memory
- Write about a problem and possible solutions
- Talk about arguments you’ve had and what you would do differently
- Write about the things that stress you out and how you can reduce them
These are just a few thought journals prompts you can use to get you started.
Some days you’ll find that you can sit down and write essays and essays of content, whereas others you might struggle to get a single word down.
The most important thing is that you try, and you maintain the habit since this is the only way you’ll get the benefits from it; just stick with it.
Journaling for Anxiety
You may be wondering, if writing and keeping a thought journal can work for depression, can it also work for anxiety?
Of course, it can, you’ll just need to adapt the things that you’re writing about. For example, you might have an upcoming social event that you’re worried about, and you’re on the fence about attending or not.
In this situation, you can use your thought journal to detail why you feel like you don’t want to go and what’s holding you back.
Don’t worry, this is much easier said than done, and most of the time you won’t even be able to find a reason, it will just be a feeling you have; but this is completely natural.
Instead, try listening to your internal monologue and really focus in on what it’s saying to you.
Perhaps it thinks you’re going to make a fool of yourself, maybe someone you don’t particularly like it going to be there, or you think something is going to go wrong.
It’s important to write these down because you’ll come to the realisation that these aren’t actual events like you think they are, they are images that your mind is making up in your head, and they don’t actually exist, it’s just your mind creating worst-case scenarios.
With this in mind, by writing them down, you should be able to come to this realisation, in turn allowing you to make the decisions that you want to make, improving your well-being and overall