5 Reasons to Start Journaling: From a Mental Health Advocate
by Britt Turpack, mental health advocate and keynote speaker
Imagine you’re in the coziest nook of your home (or a cozy nook in someone else’s home), a warm cup of your favorite coffee or tea, soft lighting. It’s a quiet, still morning. Your journal is in your hand (in my case, my FIVE MINUTE JOURNAL) and you’re ready to unlock your mind, exhale, and be present. If you’re like me, your everyday existence is a whirlwind of notifications on digital screens that constantly demand your attention. This is also known as stress. The antidote is analog: a journal and a pen. With these two simple items, I escape the stress of the myriad obligations pulling me in as many directions and work on calming my nervous system.
Benefits of journaling
In terms of mental health, I’ve found journaling to be one of the best positive coping strategies. As a mental health advocate, keynote speaker, and pilates teacher, I make sure I don’t just talk the talk about prioritizing mental health through self-care practices that help maintain overall health and well-being. I also walk the walk, bookending every day with journaling for these five reasons.
My journal is an outlet for emotional release. It’s a safe space to express my thoughts, feelings, and concerns without fear of judgment. By putting emotions into words, I gain a deeper understanding of my experiences and identify patterns to find healthy ways to cope with stress. The act of journaling can alleviate anxiety, lower stress levels, and promote a sense of calm.
When I write in my journal, I explore my thoughts and feelings with greater depth. As I write, I become more attuned with my inner self, identifying my values, desires, and areas for personal growth. I’ve learned so much about myself by tapping into my subconscious as I let myself to write freely without censure.
Writing my challenges and concerns in a journal helps clarify my thoughts, so I can approach them more objectively. Through journaling, I brainstorm potential solutions, analyze different perspectives, and gain insights that may not have been initially apparent. I also use journaling to set goals and monitor progress. By documenting my aspirations and breaking them down into manageable steps, I create a roadmap toward personal achievement and growth.
Journaling helps me process experiences that have harmed me in various ways. Writing allows me to explore my emotions and thoughts surrounding these difficult experiences, providing an opportunity to release pent-up emotions, gain a new perspective, and make sense of my feelings.
Boosting creativity and mindfulness
As my thoughts flow onto the pages, I create a space for unfiltered self-expression. Through the act of writing, I’ve discovered new ideas, insights, and perspectives, which I often apply in my mental health talks on college campuses. Liberating my mind has helped me find creative solutions in so many problems I’ve faced personally and professionally. Journaling also encourages mindfulness, as it requires me to be fully present in the moment, observing and capturing my thoughts and experiences as they unfold.
How to start journaling
Journaling has become an integral part of my routine, with a gratitude practice after my morning meditations to reframe by thinking and a reflection before bedtime with my Lypo-Mag nightcap. With the journal and the magnesium supporting my ability to relax, I achieve a better quality of sleep, so I wake up feeling my best to conquer my day. To start a reflection, sit down and find stillness for 60 seconds by placing one hand on your heart and one hand on your stomach. Focus on your natural breathing pattern to calm your nervous system, experience the present moment, and focus on the task at hand. Put pen to paper. Write freely in a stream of consciousness. Set a timer for 2–3 minutes. To start a gratitude list, take a seat and write down three things for which you are grateful every single day. Take the time to write out the phrase “I am grateful” for each item to help summon your unconscious mind.
Journaling promptsWhen I’m having trouble getting started, I follow my favorite prompts. Journaling is a personal and reflective practice, so feel free to adapt or modify. There are no wrong answers or ways to do this. I would devote 2-3 minutes per entry.
- Reflect on your self-care activities. Are they beneficial to you? Are there any changes you can make to improve your self-care routine? Write about any adjustments you can make to enhance the effectiveness of your self-care practices.
- Consider a recent setback or challenge you faced in your health journey. How did you overcome it, and what lessons did you learn from the experience? How did it teach you something to help you grow?
- Write about a time when you felt a strong sense of mental or emotional well-being. What factors contributed to that state? How can you cultivate more of those factors in your life?
- Reflect on your morning routine and identify one positive habit you can incorporate to promote your overall health and well-being.
- Write about a personal goal related to your health or wellness. What steps can you take to achieve this goal?
- Describe your favorite form of physical exercise or activity. What benefits do you derive from it? How does it contribute to your overall wellness?
Journaling is more than writing words on a page. It’s an art form, a therapy session, and a treasure trove of self-discovery — all rolled into one. Putting pen to paper uses a high level of the subconscious mind and, in practices like gratitude, it is an exercise in the perspective muscle. Journaling by hand allows us to discover what is working in our lives so we can search for more good. It is also a release, way to recenter, guide to self reflection so we can do better tomorrow. Journaling is a means to self-awareness.
LivOn Labs is thrilled to partner with Britt Turpack as she helps organizations and individuals overcome impediments to success through mental health education, motivational speaking, and movement.
Learn more about Britt here.
Follow her on Instagram @brittlovessmoothies.
Keep up with her blog.
- NAMI Representative (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
- Peer Support Certified under NAMI
- 500 hour certified yoga teacher
- Lagree Certified Mat Pilates
- Certified Life Coaching Certification Southwest Institute of Healing Arts