Journaling to Improve Mental Health

Journaling to Improve Mental Health

Did you know that journaling is an efffective tool to improve your mental health? Journaling has been shown to be an effective cognitive behavioural therapy technique and has shown benefits in reducing symptoms associated with stress, anxiety, and depression. Journaling can give people a way to process their thoughts and emotions by engaging a person’s whole brain to work through things that might be coming up for them in their life. Journaling can also help deepen insights into ourselves which in turn can help us understand our reactions and begin to make helpful changes in our lives. There are many different kinds of therapeutic Journals that help to improve your mental health. Some examples are; reflective journals, gratitude journals, thought journals, and symptom journals.

Throughtout January, therapist, Shaheen Alarakhia has been providing journal prompts to help readers cultivate this habit.

Types of journals

There are many different types of journals that can be used to improve your mental well-being. Some examples of journals that are recommended by mental health professionals are reflective journals, gratitude journals, thought journals, and symptom journals. 

Reflective Journals

In January, therapist Shaheen Alarakhia, used prompts that would be included in a reflective journal. Reflective journals involve writing about your personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings in a structured way. This can help you process and make sense of your experiences, as well as identify patterns and areas for personal growth. Reflective journals can also help improve self-awareness and create opportunities for individuals to reflect on things they want to change or try to do differently. You can see our collection of reflective journaling prompt videos below.


Gratitude Journals

Gratitude journals involve regularly writing down things that you are grateful for. This can help shift your focus to the positive aspects of your life and can increase feelings of happiness and well-being. In fact, gratitude journals have been studied to reduce the likelihood of depression and improve dopamine levels. Creating a daily habit of gratitude journalling is something that your therapist might suggest to you to help you begin to notice the small but good things happening to you in your daily life. 

Thought Journals

Thought journaling comes from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Thought journals generally involve tracking negative automatic thoughts that come up for you throughout the day. In addition to tracking these thoughts, your therapist might have you begin evaluating your thoughts within the journal by providing evidence for and against each thought as well as challenging yourself to come up with a new, more helpful thought that would hold just as true in each context. Thought journaling, along with cognitive behavioural therapy, seeks to place space between your thoughts and your beliefs. By identifying and challenging unhelpful thoughts, journallors will begin to notice that thoughts simply happen and that having a thought doesn’t automatically make it true. This can help reduce depression and anxiety when thoughts are part of what is contributing to the depression and anxiety. 

Symptom Journals

Occasionally, it might be hard to sort out symptoms and underlying triggers. Symptom journals involve tracking physical or emotional symptoms, such as headaches or anxiety, along with any potential triggers or contributing factors. This can help you identify patterns and develop strategies for managing and reducing symptoms.  For mental health, this might involve noticing migraines tend to develop on days that your self-report stress rating is higher or that engaging in mindfulness in the morning tends to help prevent feeling overwhelmed in the afternoon. Symptom journals can be very helpful when things feel very intertwined or it feels like nothing you do helps. They can help people to feel more in control as well as develop self-awareness and insights into things that are helpful and hurtful. 

Journal Prompts

Therapists might give a variety of journaling prompts to their clients to help them reflect on their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Some examples of journaling prompts a therapist might give include:

  1. Write down 5 words that describe you and how they make you feel.
  2. Write about a time that you felt you really trusted yourself. Give as much detail as possible.
  3. Write down a few words that come to your mind when you are engaging in negative self-talk. Now reframe those words to build yourself up.
  4. Write out examples of how you have recently shown yourself kindness and self-compassion. Was this process hard or uncomfortable? If yes, explain in detail how this exercise made you feel.

Welcome to Holistic Healing

Welcome to Holistic Healing

Meet our certified therapists, Adam, Selena, Danielle, and Shaheen. No matter what you want to work on, we have a therapist to help. Our Counsellors focus on helping you feel at ease by allowing you to feel heard and understood. By using a holistic, or whole picture approach, our trained Counsellors can help their patients live a happier, more authentic life. Our therapists offer adult counselling, couples counselling, and adolescent/teen counselling. Interested in learning more? Need to book a session? Contact Us here.


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