Keeping a tab on your daily thoughts and their effects on your behavior is essential for you to design ideas to overcome and then track your progress over time.
Benefits of Journaling
Daily stress, burnout, anxiety or any physical illness, all lead to changes in your behavior and physical condition. Journaling helps you in multiple ways:
1. Reduces Anxiety: People experiencing various medical conditions and anxiety who wrote for thrice a week for 15 minutes over a 3-month period had increased feeling of wellbeing and fewer depressive symptoms after a month. Their mental wellbeing continued to improve during the 3 months of journaling.
2. Helps Avoid Excessive Worrying: Writing about an emotional event helps break away from the nonstop cycle of obsessively thinking and worrying about what happened. A word of caution, sometimes writing about a traumatic event immediately after it happening may make some people feel worse.
3. Creates Awareness: Writing down about a difficult situation helps you understand it better. Putting that difficult experience in words and structure allows you to form new perceptions about events giving you a new dimension of thoughts.
4. Regulates Emotions: It is scientifically proven with studies involving brain scans of people who wrote about their feelings that they were able to control their emotions better than those wrote about neutral experiences.
5. Speed Up Physical Healing: The mind-body continuum works is best elicited with the effect of journaling on physical illnesses. A study in New Zealand found that those who wrote for 20 minutes about their feelings upsetting events healed faster than those who wrote about daily activities, as seen in biopsies. Similarly, in another study it was found that college students who wrote about stressful events were less likely to get sick compared to those who wrote about neutral topics like their room, etc.
How to Start Writing Your Journal
1. First try writing it on a paper. Easier to add drawings. Best is move ahead with what mode you are comfortable.
2. Make it a habit. Select the best time you can dedicate in a day, either the first thing in the morning or before you go to bed at night, but ensure it gets done.
3. Keep it very simple. Journal just for a few minutes and use a simple spoken monologue.
4. Write what feels right for you. There is no specific rule on what you should write. You are creating an exclusively YOUR space where you can without any botheration write about anything that appeals you.
5. Try to get creative. You may include pictures, poems, songs, bulleted lists, some shayaris. If you fall short of words in one language use your mother tongue.
6. Be expressive.
7. Include an integral part, Gratitude Section, in your daily journaling. Include three things in your day for what you were grateful for.
8. Do not set high expectations, this is not the main line treatment for anxiety or depression, but this helps you to overcome it and the doctor to design the best sessions for you.