Writing is an amazing exercise that lots of people forget about. It has many benefits not only for cognitive development but also for mental health.
Of course, students might think that they have enough of it with all the academic assignments. But it is not only about academic writing. Essays can always be delegated to professionals, such as essaypro. When it comes to calming down and reducing anxiety, one of the most effective ways is journaling and expressive writing.
Benefits of Journaling for Mental Health
A lot of people used to have diaries in their teenage years. This activity helped to get over emotions and process them better. Yet, many adults often forget about it when it comes to finding a way to calm down.
Many studies show a direct link between journaling and reduction of stress and anxiety. It helps in several areas:
- Prioritization of issues and tasks. To-do lists and diaries help with focusing on what is important;
- Understanding stress factors. When you write something down, it is easier to see what things or thoughts cause anxiety. And identification helps to combat them;
- Tracking symptoms and their level. It is especially useful for people suffering from anxiety and depression;
- Positive endorsement with self-talk and affirmations.
Some studies even show that not only keeping a journal is helpful. Having a blog or even writing an email has a significant impact on one’s stress level.
Overall, expressive writing also is helpful when getting over trauma or negative experiences. When the person puts everything down on paper, it relieves the tension. It is also easier to process emotions healthily, rather than suppress them.
How to Journal Effectively
There are several exercises and rules when it comes to expressive writing and journaling. To make the best of them, it is better to follow these pieces of advice.
Write in a calm space and solitude. It is better not to get distracted to concentrate on what you are trying to say;
- Do not criticize it. Forget about grammatical or stylistic mistakes, as it is not the point of the exercise. Focus on grammatical correctness will interfere with the flow of thought and limit your inspiration;
- Try to do it every day, from 5 to 15 minutes, at least. The time of day is not essential, some people choose morning to clear the head, others prefer an evening to get better sleep without pending thoughts;
- Be honest and expressive; do not try to hide anything from yourself. After all, it has to calm the mind and the best thing to do is to put everything as it is.
The point is to express thoughts and feelings to get them out of the head.
Several Writing Exercises to Calm Down
If you don’t know where to start, here are some ideas on how to use journaling for reducing stress and anxiety.
- Write down what you are stressed about. One of the main reasons we are stressed is that we have too much going on in our minds. Put it all on paper, it has the same effect as sharing with someone. Except, It won’t be so overwhelming. You’ll feel more relaxed after it is all gone to paper.
- Reread and counter all the negative statements. Everyone has thought like ‘I’m never going to get this job”, “If I don’t get this done I will be expelled/fired’ or even “Everyone hates me”. Read them critically and find counterarguments to combat each one.
- Try journaling about everything on your mind. It can be a list of things to do, something about tomorrow, the dog barking, anything. The exercise is to get it off the brain. The mind will think of the issue as being sorted.
- Use lists for self-endorsements. Making to-do lists influences effectiveness. However, if you don’t have the energy for great achievements, just make an easily achievable to-do list, like “drink enough water”, “have a shower”, “eat breakfast” or “watch a movie”. Every time you do something from the list, cross it off and you’ll get an endorphin boost. For the brain, it doesn’t matter how small an accomplishment is, it feels good to complete things anyway.
- Show gratefulness. It is a great way to calm down and be happier about one’s life. Dedicate time to writing about all the things and people you are grateful for. It can be something small. Such exercise helps to focus on positive things and savor small stuff.
- Positive affirmations. Write positive things about yourself like “I am strong and smart, I can do this, I am caring, and I can achieve anything”. You can write it several times than have a moment to think about them and feel them. Positive self-talk is calming and motivating. The more you practice it, the more you believe it.
Journaling can help reduce stress and anxiety. It is also amazing for calming down and processing emotions better. And the best thing is that it is free and accessible to anyone at any time. It takes only 5 to 15 minutes to get a boost of energy or motivation and clear one’s mind.