Christina Suchon has lived with it most of her life depression. Through the ups and downs, one of the things that helped was writing for a magazine.
“Even if it’s just completely negative nonsense that I’m scribbling on a page, it helps me clear my mind and see exactly what’s bothering me,” says Suchon, who lives in Tijuana, Mexico.
Many mental health experts recommend journaling as it can improve your mood and manage it Symptoms of depression. Studies back this up and show that journaling is good for you Psychological health. It may make the treatment work better.
“Journal writing is not a cure-all,” says Jill Howell, MD, a licensed professional counselor, but there are plenty of benefits.
How journaling helps with depression
There are several key ways keeping a journal can help you when you’re dealing with depression.
It makes you more aware. Blogging helps you get to know yourself better.
Expressing yourself in a journal can bring your thoughts and feelings to the surface. Many people are surprised by what they write, says Cynthia McKay, a Denver-based psychotherapist. You may discover that you’re worried about something you didn’t know was bothering you until you wrote it down.
You can keep a journal of your own or share it with your therapist. They can help you see what’s important and use it to help you move forward.
Lets you take control. When your thoughts and worries revolve around you, putting pen to paper can make for less clutter. “When we write things down, we feel more manageable,” says clinical psychologist Perpetua New, PhD.
Souchon agrees. She says writing helps her put things in perspective and reduces feelings of worthlessness. “It brings me back to reality.”
Journaling helps you take an active part in your treatment. It enables you to do something to help yourself feel better. It also helps you recognize when you are feeling down and need extra help.
Change your point of view. Keeping a journal gives you an opportunity to use positive self-talk.
“I love using gratitude journals and affirmation journals with my clients,” says Charlynn Ruan, PhD, a licensed clinical therapist. Writing about happy memories is especially powerful, Rowan says, because depression tends to trigger negative emotions. “It’s like retraining your mind.”
Lets you notice patterns. A journal can help you keep track of your symptoms. If you record how you feel each day, you may discover the things that trigger your depression.
For example, you may notice that your symptoms get worse at a certain time of the day, when you’re under Stress, or when you are in a difficult relationship. If you know your triggers, you can avoid them in the future.
Journaling can give you insight into what you do over time. If you look at older entries, you might notice trends. You will see if you feel better, worse, or the same.
It can be a red flag that you need more help or reassurance that you are okay. “It helped me go back and look back at previous entries and realize how far I had come in therapy,” says Suchon.
let it all out. Write about anything. Let your thoughts flow freely.
“I often tell my patients to write and tear,” Howell says. “When you know no one will read what you write, you are less inclined to edit or worry about spelling, grammar, or bad language.” The less you worry about writing, the more you will benefit.
Write regularly. Try to write in your diary on a regular basis. Every day is perfect. The target is 20 minutes.
Find a time and place when it’s quiet and you’re relaxed. You may find it easier to write in bed before going to sleep. You may have fewer distractions and can look back on your day.
Try new things. Write letters to yourself. Write to your loved ones who are no longer with you. You can even write comforting words to yourself that you think loved ones might say to you, Howell says.
Don’t be too negative. If you find yourself jotting down only negative thoughts, try shifting your writing in another direction.
It’s okay to write about things that aren’t positive, but put an end to it. Don’t do it more than 20 minutes, says Rowan.
Avoid re-reading your negative writing. “Maybe you make the symbolic gesture of stuffing the page and tossing it away after you’ve written it, as a sense of emotional cleansing,” she says.
Make it easy. Set yourself up for success. Keep a pen and paper handy. Keep your journal near your bed, in your bag, or in your car. Or type on your computer. phone or tablet.
“It took me reminding myself, no matter what I write, that I know I feel better after I do it,” says Suchon.