Freeing The Feelings: Five Creative Ways To Journal
In light of World Mental Health Day, I thought it fitting to write a piece on something that has not only benefited me but something that has also benefited so many others around the world.
I know that journaling can be a bit of a raw subject and it is certainly not for everyone. With an increased awareness of mental health over the past few years, the benefits of journaling are proving such an effective way to help process, understand and manage personal emotions.
Granted, journaling can be a bit of a minefield. If you don’t know how you feel (which, some days we really don’t) where do you even start? It doesn’t have to be a big task to complete everyday. In fact there are many ways to make journaling quick and effective. Whether you are thinking of beginning a journal or are curious to explore other methods of creative expression, here are a few ideas you may find useful:
WRITING IT DOWN
This sounds like stating the obvious, but when it comes to putting pen to paper, it can be difficult knowing where to start. There are lots of pre-prepared journals out there that can offer structure, but using a plain notebook can also be equally as valuable.
Try starting by writing down anything that springs to mind. This could be a singular event from your day, it could be about the achievements you’ve made throughout the week, or perhaps someone did something nice for you that you want to remember. You can write down LITERALLY ANYTHING. There are no set rules.
For those of you who aren’t really into writing paragraphs, you may find it helpful to just start with a sentence a day or a few key words to describe your mood. By doing this you’ll not only get into the swing of writing but also gradually be able to notice recurrent thought patterns and emotions. The simpler you can make it for yourself to start with, the better. Think of journaling as a release, not a chore.
Not for everyone, but recording your thoughts and feelings via audio can be a good method to understanding them-- especially if you lack time or don’t mind listening to yourself. Sometimes just by talking out loud can help to make sense of your own thoughts or issues. I also think recording is a great way of journaling as it can be really rewarding to look back on the progress you’ve made, the things you’ve achieved or the way you have handled situations.
Even recording affirmations to yourself can be useful and discreet, as you can listen to these on the go and replay when you need a pick-me-up.
DOWNLOAD AN APP
If you’re into your technology or you don’t like the idea of having a hardcopy, there are plenty of apps that can act as a journal. These apps can help with tracking mood and will often set reminders, or send notifications that will help you to check in with yourselves.
A few recommendations to start with that you may find useful are ‘Jour’, ‘Perspective, a Mindful Journal’ and ‘Day One Journal’. Give them a try!
Journals don’t have to be long sentences or story-like. Making lists for the weeks, months and year ahead based on your own ambitions, goals and life events can be extremely useful. I have subconsciously done this a couple of times just getting lost in my own thoughts and some-time later will come across these lists to find the majority of points ticked off. It is easy to forget, especially on ‘off days’ just how far you have come. These lists are a nice reminder of that.
If you like to express yourselves with colours , photos and fonts, then bullet journals are a great place to start. Journaling doesn’t have to be just your thoughts, it can be an expression of your interests, your favourite songs, quotes, books you are currently reading, sights that you want to see, monthly accomplishments and even mood, sleep and nutrition trackers.
The beauty about journaling is that you don’t have to dedicate a lot of time to it and you don’t have to be in a certain frame of mind for it either- it is literally about however you feel in the moment and it is personal to you. I hope that you find these ways useful in some way!
Finally, a word on World Mental Health day.
Remember that although we raise awareness for this once a year, taking care of yourself daily is a necessity not a luxury. Check in with yourselves, with your friends and with your loved ones often. Remember that not all who suffer are vocal about it, that asking for help or to be heard is not a weakness. We are all humans with our own backgrounds and life experiences, so avoid jumping to conclusions or assuming you know what someone is going through. Most importantly please always remember that you are never alone.
Sources for further information on support and services you can access.
https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/ Anxiety UK offer access to discounted therapy- become a member for a year for just £40 and get a years free subscription to headspace (which would cost you £72!).
https://www.samaritans.org/ Samaritans is a no judgement, no pressure service which offers a free 24 hour, 365 days a year phone line to anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts.
https://www.mind.org.uk/ Mind is a great source of information on all areas of mental health and provides guides on support and services you can access.
Written by Em Hope
Instagram/ Twitter: @eminemmz