Journaling has been an integral part of my therapy since I was a teenager. My early journals were simply empty school notebooks that I wrote and drew in during class when I couldn’t see the whiteboard through the cloud of my feelings.
As I got older, I used them to jot down notes after therapy sessions, record my thoughts and observations in between sessions, and note how I was feeling as I tackled what are typically fairly mundane tasks to someone not suffering from a mental illness.
Some people, like me, journal. Some don’t. Some use it as a place for their goals or their to-do lists.
For me, journaling has helped me look within. My journaling time is a combination of good old fashioned bitching and deep introspection. It’s a way for me to get outside of myself and analyze what I’m feeling and why, and I firmly believe that journaling is a large part of why I’m so functional despite being bipolar.
I highly recommend giving journaling a try. Whether you’re thinking about it or have already dove in, a few quick tips may help you get the most out of the experience.
- Don’t mandate a journaling session. Or do. The point is to find a routine that works for you.
- If you don’t know what to write, try a stream of conscious session. Start writing anything at all, even if it is just, “I have nothing to write about today.” Continue without worrying about spelling or sentence structure or grammar or punctuation, and let your thoughts flow like water onto the page.
- Write about what you’re feeling or a problem you’re facing.
- Understand that it’s okay to just put your issues onto paper without figuring out a solution.
- Jot down notes about your therapy session and questions you have for the next.
- Record your dreams and daydreams.
- Make lists of places you’d like to go, things you want to do, or goals you want to accomplish.
These are just some of the things I have journaled about in the past and write about to this day. The list can go on and on really, because the most important part of therapy journaling is that it helps you self reflect and sort through your emotions.