Risha Khan believes in the power of journaling. She loves to pen down her feelings whenever she feels to.
The tragic incident of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide has jolted the nation. He was going through depression that led him to take such a drastic step. Many types of research have proved that a daily journaling habit has the power to help people cope up with depression.
Introduction to Expressive Journaling
The style of journaling, where we are free to express our feelings, is referred to as “Expressive Journaling”. Letting go of our emotions on a notebook or a gadget is proven to have positive outcomes such as better mood, an increase in self-confidence and self-esteem. As we pen down our feelings, we realize that the burden has started to lift off eventually.
Unlike bullet journaling, expressive journaling does not follow a specific structure. It focuses on identifying the reasons responsible for negative reactions and working on them effectively for better results. It involves the following steps:
1. Brain Dumping: Write down all the thoughts and feelings that come to your mind. Unleash your anger, anxiety, fears, stress, and depressing thoughts as you write your heart out. Indulge in free writing; don’t think about committing grammatical or spelling mistakes at all.
2. Reflect/Review: When you are done with penning down your emotions, calm down, and take a few deep breaths. Physical workout and meditation will also do wonders to start your day with a positive frame of mind. Now read what you have just written and think about the present situation. You will experience the drastic change in your mood as compared to when you were writing your heart out, filled with negative emotions.
3. Introspection: This involves the self-examination of our thought process. We enter a state of self-awareness and realize how things could have turned out if we remained calm and composed. Write down what you are feeling right now. All the anger, anxiety, fear, and stress you were feeling previously starts to dissipate.
The above steps will certainly help us to create a positive behavioral pattern if we are confronted with the circumstances in the future that bothered us previously. Always keep in mind that the change starts with us, the person or situation will not change but our reactions and thoughts will help us build resilience and come up with better coping strategies.
Effective Journal Techniques to improve Mental Health
Following are some journaling techniques that can help us to improve our mental health:
1. Visual Journal: For some people, writing alone cannot justify their emotions. They express themselves through drawing, sketching, or painting. The best thing about expressive journaling is that it is not just limited to writing. Your journal could be your sketchbook too. You can also collect photos and make a collage out of them.
2. Musical Journal: Listening to music has also proved to be therapeutic for many people. The songs that we listen to, tells a lot about our personality. Music affects our mood and it is a form of self-expression. Your playlist could be your journal to express your feelings. If you are an aspiring musician, create your style of music and inspire people around the world.
3. Gratitude Journal: Expressing gratitude is one of the best ways to uplift your life. Counting on your blessings will certainly increase your happiness manifold. Being thankful to our loved ones who supported you in tough times strengthens the bond in relationships and creates a positive atmosphere in your home. You can also be grateful to people who challenge or criticize you and despite their bad behavior, you become the best version of yourself.
You can maintain a separate journal for showing gratitude or reserve a few pages from your bullet journal. It is a good practice to develop this beautiful habit daily for better results.
4. Success Log: List down all your achievements and success you have achieved. Recall and write down the events that made you proud and happy, for example: winning a cash prize in an essay competition or a bicycle race, passing the driving test, cooking for the first time, and the compliments you received from your loved ones for your dish. This will increase your self-confidence and boost your self-esteem.
5. Affirmations: Reciting positive affirmations daily and implementing them will encourage an optimistic attitude and help build resilience. Speak out the following affirmations while standing in front of the mirror: -
- I am a kind person who loves to bring smiles on the faces of people around me.
- I love helping people without expecting anything in return from them.
- I will not hold grudges against people who put me down, instead, I will thank them for making me a better person
- Every day, I will become a better version of myself.
- I will become a grateful person.
- I will take a stand for myself, no matter how many people try to put me down.
- I will always believe in myself and my capabilities in good and bad times.
- I will help people around me to cope up with depression and build resilience in tough times.
6. Unsent Letters: Write letters to a person who has constantly tried to put you down with gaslighting and toxic behavior. This technique can be very useful for people who were bullied, had a divorce, or lived an abusive relationship. Write letters to that person stating that you don’t carry any hard feelings for them, no matter how much they tried to break you, you never gave up on yourself and emerged as a true winner.
Benefits of Journaling
Journaling is known to have the following benefits:
1) It is a path to self-discovery and self-awareness. We find connected to ourselves when we write about our feelings.
2)It encourages optimism when we practice gratitude daily.
3)It helps us to boost mood, self-confidence, and self-esteem.
4)It also helps us to release repressed and blocked emotions.
5)It strengthens our immune system. Bottling up our emotions can result in violent and self-destructive behavior.
6)It reduces the symptoms of depression, accompanied by the therapy.
7)It has the power to transform negative thoughts into positive thoughts.
8)It helps you to recover from traumatic experiences such as the death of your loved one, surviving an accident or a life-threatening disease.
9)It can help you to recover from addiction when you write your struggles with your accomplishments.
Just writing down our emotions alone won’t improve our mental health, we must also be willing to change for our betterment. This serves as a record for the future. We must also practice self-compassion along with gratitude. Journaling also helps to develop feelings of empathy and being non-judgemental to ourselves as well as people around us. Moreover, our thoughts and feelings should be kept secret and it is strongly recommended using an app that keeps our writing confidential. Also, there are many journals available that have a locking mechanism to ensure that our emotions are safe within us.
Risha Khan (author) from Bhilai, Chhattisgarh on August 06, 2020:
Thank you very much,Umesh ji for your feedback. I am glad you liked it.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on August 04, 2020:
Interesting article. Well composed.
Risha Khan (author) from Bhilai, Chhattisgarh on July 02, 2020:
Thank you Sowrabha for your encouragement. It means a lot to me. Whenever I felt stressed or anxious, my parents tell me to write it down as it helps to calm down. I really hope that people will find it useful and go for journaling.
Risha Khan (author) from Bhilai, Chhattisgarh on June 26, 2020:
Thank you so much Sir for giving your time to read my hub. I am glad you liked it.
Risha Khan (author) from Bhilai, Chhattisgarh on June 26, 2020:
Thank you so much for reading my hub. I am glad you liked it
JC Scull from Gainesville, Florida on June 25, 2020:
Very good hub.
sowspeaks from Bengaluru on June 23, 2020:
Hi Risha, this is one of your best articles thus far. Absolutely loved the different forms of journaling.. yes, definitely self awareness is the first step and hour Alli f is effective means of developing self awareness. Thank you !!
Risha Khan (author) from Bhilai, Chhattisgarh on June 21, 2020:
Thank you for giving your feedback on my hub, Avyukth. This is true that people are suffering from mental health problems. They find it difficult to open up to people around them because they fear that they may be judged. Writing down our feelings on a journal can turn out to be a healing experience.
Avyukth Krishna from Bangalore on June 21, 2020:
Hello Risha ma'am,
This is such an insightful article ! Currently, everyone is facing mental health issues because of the situation in the world around us. Often, people feel frustrated that there is no one with whojm they can share their thoughts and feelings . Some people have taken extreme steps too. Through your article, I was able to understand that even a book can be your best friend.
Thank you !