We all know that using a journal can be a good idea. But do you know how to journal so that it actually helps you manage anxiety and/or depression?

If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, how many times have you heard me discuss journaling and how amazing it is? (Google keeps telling me that journaling isn’t a word, but I’m gonna keep using it.)

Well, if you’re new here – it’s a lot! And it’s because I seriously believe in the power of journaling. It is incredible!

By the way…if you’d like to hear me talk more about journaling and other mental health topics, follow me on Instagram!

I also believe that a lot of people try journaling in a way that isn’t super effective for them. Journaling is more than just writing down how your day was.

What?!

Your mind is blown, yeah? I get it! I mean, let me say that there’s nothing really *wrong* with journaling in that way, but it’s not gonna be one your best options if you’re really aiming to better your mental health.

So if you are someone who just has no idea how to journal, this is for you! Read on for my tips. 🙂

Journal Consistently

This is so important!! *insert all the hand clapping hands emoji*

Personally, I write in my journal every day. I know for a lot of people, that can seem overwhelming and I can understand! If you need to, lessen your time commitment.

You can try out journaling once a week, or every other day, or whatever works for you! The point is to make it work for you.

Despite how often you journal, you need to do it on a consistent basis. Without consistency, you’re gonna find yourself journaling at random and I can’t tell how ineffective that is.

It’s an unsuccessful method because you’ll find yourself only journaling when you *think* you need to. But journaling is really good to do no matter what mood you’re in, the situation, or whether or not you believe you should.

AND, journaling on a consistent basis will be really good for when you decide to review it later on (more on that below!)

Listen, folks…I’m a woman of routine. I love ’em. I believe in ’em wholeheartedly. That goes for journaling, too! Add it to a routine you already have to get the most out of it.

Related: How a Morning Routine Will Calm Anxiety

Having a routine with a journal will help you establish a system for getting your feelings out of your head and onto paper. That’s important!

Include Gratitude

Gratitude is an incredibly powerful thing!!

When you journal, you might find yourself simply ranting or talking about negative things. And that would suck to look back on and find, right?!

Gratitude pushes positivity into your journal so you can continue to infuse positive vibes into your mind.

I encourage you to include gratitude in every single journal entry you do.

I add gratitude to my journaling routine easily! My journal is actually a horizontal planner, so it has weekly areas where I write daily, but I use the monthly pages to write down one thing I’m grateful for each day!

I can’t tell you how easy it is to be more positive when I’m thinking about something I’m thankful for in my life each and every single day. It breathes positive life into me and counteracts the negative emotions I’m getting out in my journal.

Try it out! Seriously, you’ll be literally feeling happier that you did, lol!

Write Down Negatives and a Plan to Change Them

Look, how many times can you go back in your past journal entries and see nothing but ranting and negative things?

Probably a lot. (Or if you’ve never journaled… just imagine it, okay?)

This is by far the number one mistake I see people making when it comes to journaling. Don’t get me wrong – I understand the desire to get all those negative feelings out of your head. I encourage it!

However, journaling becomes the most effective when you take the negative things you wrote down, think about them, and come up with a plan to change them.

Think about it. You already have a lot of time spent in your journal.

If you’re investing the time in it, it’s easy to invest a few more minutes to make a plan to get you feeling more positive!

You’ll be on your way to feeling better about that icky situation soon, and that’s really what matters!

So the next time you are ranting in your journal (no shame in that – seriously! I do it all the time), I want you to stop for just a moment, read back what you wrote and then come up with a detailed plan to make you feel better and/or improve the situation.

This could mean many things. Maybe, for you, that means setting aside time for self-care. Or it might be about confronting the situation or having an important conversation with someone.

The solution you come up with really depends on what the issue is and what makes you feel better. So make it personalized!

And then write the plan down right below the negative things you wrote. Reread everything all together. Concentrate on it. Acknowledge it.

And then take that plan into action!

Your journal doesn’t have to be just your release. It can be the release for things AND the perfect method for planning how to improve situations. 🙂

Review Your Journal Over Time

I’m guilty of making this mistake myself, and that’s why I think it’s even more important to share it! (I’m not perfect, y’all – fun fact.)

This again goes back to the idea that a lot of us use our journals and then leave them behind. But let’s change that, shall we?

After a while, go back and reread what you wrote about. This could be after a few days, a month, or even a full year.

The reason I think you should do this is because seeing what you wrote about in the past can give you major insights into how you’ve grown over a period of time.

There’s a ton of things you could take notice of, but just to list a few:

  • you sound happier than you did months previously
  • you’re getting better about making plans to change negative to positive
  • you’re writing a situation you had less and less and that could mean it’s affecting you less
  • or maybe even the opposite of all of those!

It’s really easy for anyone to forget how things have been in the past and how we have felt. But understanding the past can really propel us forward!

Take the time to go back over your journal (you don’t have to read it word for word. I’m not convinced I’d want to do that with mine, lol!) You can skim it!

It’s up to you to analyze what you find and use it to understand yourself on a deeper level.

Another awesome thing that I’d recommend you do is use what you find after reviewing your journal and set new mental health goals!

I actually have an entire guest post about this on my friend Mariah’s blog, and I HIGHLY recommend you check it out here! I wrote it based on the new year, but you can totally apply the steps to any time frame.

Now you know how to journal like a champ!

Journaling is such an incredible tool for managing mental health, but it should be done with practice just like anything else! You can make it even more useful over time by using these practices!

Do you have any other journaling tips? Let us know in the comments! 🙂

Sierra Mafield Blog