Journaling for Mental Health & How to Get Started

Want to improve your overall health, wellness, and mental health then why not start journaling? This post will help you get started and show you how to journal for beginners and give you some mental health journal prompts. Start your journal today with a new mental health journal routine!
How journaling helps mental health


Natalie Shirlaw is a healthy living expert with over 10 years of experience in the field of holistic health, wellbeing, and fitness.

A qualified Wellness Coach and Nutritional Therapist, Natalie is passionate about helping women to live a healthier, happier, non-toxic life as naturally as possible.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure for more info.

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Over the past few years, I have found that writing affirmations really works for me, but until recently, I hadn’t experienced the benefits of journaling. In the past, I’ve been a big fan of gratitude journaling and have even created my own gratitude journal! But more recently, I’ve been journaling for mental health benefits. Journaling my thoughts really helps to clear my mind, identify my goals while allowing me a place to rant and to get things off my chest! If you haven’t tried it yet, why not follow my beginner’s guide to how start a journal?

journaling prompts

8 Ways Journaling is good for our mental health

Using journaling therapy has become an invaluable tool for anyone who struggles with their mental health and self-esteem, especially over lockdown. From helping to resolve conflict, bringing clarity and boosting emotional wellbeing, journaling has been proven to improve our mood.

1. It relieves stress

Lockdown has been tough. Normally, I’m a positive person, but I’ve had periods of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear which I haven’t wanted to burden my partner or my friends with, especially since most people are really struggling with these feelings. Sometimes when I have a lot of negative thoughts, I just need a good 20-minute rant, then I feel a whole lot better. Journaling really helps me with that, and believe me, the power of the written word is strong! I have found it has helped me to identify problems and to understand why I felt a certain way too.

reasons to start journaling

2. It helps to reframe negative thoughts

Often, we are so wrapped up in a problem or situation that we end up overthinking it. It’s really freeing and therapeutic just to let those thoughts go, especially as they never really help anyway! When you write these thoughts down, suddenly you find solutions, or you are just able to release them a lot easier. When I’m feeling so overwhelmed everything just seems so much harder, and although there is no real solution sometimes, writing down my feelings allowed me to empathise with myself and to deal with the issue a lot better.

3. Use Journaling to Set and Achieve your Goals

Quite often, we have goals in our head that we want to achieve, but they become blurred by our own thoughts, feelings, and sometimes inadequacies. Studies have shown that by writing down goals you are much more likely to achieve them. Writing them down helps you to clarify exactly what you want, plus it allows you to break down the goal into smaller steps, making it seem and look much easier to achieve. Not only that, but by writing your goals down, you can physically see when you have achieved something which makes your progress more visible too.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Abraham Lincoln

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4. Journaling Clarifys our Thoughts

Writing our thoughts down helps our brain to organise them in a clearer way. Revealing our internal world on paper also helps our thoughts to be clearer and less muddled. I find when my goals are in my head, they can be vague, but as soon as I write them down, they somehow feel more concrete, simpler and a whole lot clearer too.

how to start a journal

5. Manage your feelings with journaling

Journaling is a wonderful way to manage your feelings and to help reduce stress. We all have dark days and moods and can feel anxious or depressed. Journaling negative thoughts and feelings helps to get them out of your head and onto paper, making it an effective stress reliever. When we write, we reduce the activity in our brains that stops us overthinking, so our feelings of being overwhelmed, sad or angry are reduced. Journaling for mental health is really effective!

6. Try Spiritual writing

Spiritual writing is something that I turn to when I feel lost or when I want to find answers. By connecting with your ‘spirit guide’ or Angel, and just holding your pen, you become the ‘vessel’. All you need is a pen and paper. Simply allow yourself to write without overthinking it and just see what comes out! Don’t worry about grammar or neatness – just write!

The first time I did it, I was very skeptical and didn’t really believe in what I was doing, but I was shocked by what came out! I hold the pen very loosely, then try to go into a meditative state where I’m calm, and my mind is clear. Then l let the pen do its thing! Whether I am connecting to the other side, or to my deepest subconscious thoughts doesn’t really matter – but it works!

If you need an answer to a tricky question – it might be wanting to know if a job you have applied for is right for you or whether you are in the right relationship – give it a go!

Gratitude Journal Workbook

Gratitude Journal

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7. Dream day journaling

This is a technique created by one of my favourite authors and manifesting experts, Ester Hicks. She believes that we should write our ‘dream day’ repeatedly to bring it into our reality. Ester recommends doing this as soon as you wake up in the morning when your energy is freshest. So instead of scrolling through pointless social media posts, why not journal your dream day instead! It’s a much better way to start the day and it sets your mood for the day! I’ve tried this technique and I love it, especially when I’m feeling stuck. It makes me feel better, and makes things shift. Plus, the things I write about usually start appearing!

The lovely thing about dream day journaling is that nothing is off-limits. You can choose to write about your dream day waking up in a Mediterranean villa looking out onto a pool (which is what I wrote about and it weirdly came true!) Or you can write about your dream job or dream relationship; anything at all.

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This technique reveals that we are not as greedy as we imagine! I’m never tempted to write about going to Chanel and buying the whole shop! Ireasons to start journallingt’s the simple things like waking up in a peaceful environment, smelling beautiful aromas, eating delicious food in a relaxed way, or feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin.

8. Self Care

Your journaling time is time for yourself, where you can process your thoughts, fears, desires, and anything you need to get off your chest. Sometimes when we want to switch off, we ‘zone out’ front of the TV, but journaling is a more productive way to reduce stress. It also helps us to get in touch with ourselves and to get to know and like ourselves better. I began to like myself more – I’m a Virgo and extremely hard on myself! And I got in touch with my true self, feeling compassion, admiration, and love for myself that I hadn’t felt before.

How to Start a Journal

There are lots of ways you can journal. You can use an app or laptop for jounaling, but I find that a physical journal is best. Buying a beautiful notebook or specially designed journal that is a pleasure to write is more likely to encourage you to make journaling part of your daily routine. I love Myndmap Journals, and if you are new to journaling, Myndmap’s journals are designed with sections that guide you easily through the process.

They are also incredibly detailed and contain everything from affirmations and goal setting to pages for reflection.⁣ MyndMap have a variety of journals including the ‘I Am Bullet Journal’ designed for recording affirmations, or ‘My Journal’, a 12-week mindfulness journal to inspire and empower you. And for the person who loves spiritual writing and dream day journaling, there are also journal options with plenty of blank pages that are perfect for freestyling. ⁣They are some of the prettiest journals that I have come across!

MyndMap Journals

myndmap journal

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Do You have to Journal Daily?

While there are many studies that say it’s important to journal daily, personally, I think it’s quite unrealistic. For me, I prefer to use it as a tool when I need really it. A journal can become a ‘best friend’ who you can share anything with without fear of judgement or criticism.

Natalie Shirlaw is a healthy living expert with 10 years of experience in the field of holistic health, wellbeing, and fitness. If you enjoyed this article be sure to pin or share it!

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