As a teenager, you may have kept a diary where you could express your feelings, anxieties, and struggles without the fear of being judged for them. Your diary was an outlet for all the emotions that couldn’t be expressed and writing them down somehow helped put things into perspective. Although many people let their diary fall by the wayside as they get older, adults can benefit from keeping a diary as well. Journaling (as it is often called) can be a very productive self-help tool when it comes to battling depression. There are several reasons why journaling is good depression therapy.
1) It is a good way to relax and recharge.
Although connecting on social media or surfing the Web can be relaxing, there is no better way to quiet a troubled mind than to turn off the computer, silence the phone, and concentrate on your thoughts. Recording the events of the day as well as your mood when they occurred can allow you to see things more clearly.
2) It helps to prioritize your fears, concerns, and problems.
Keep a pencil and paper with you and record your feelings and mood throughout the day and write them down in your journal when you get home. You’ll often find that what seemed like a major crisis at the time looks totally different just a few hours later. As your write down your concerns and problems, think about what is causing them an what you can do to change it.
3) It can help you to focus on the positive things in life.
When you write in your journal, don’t focus only on the negative. Force yourself to find at least one positive thing that happened during the day. By making yourself find something positive, you will be less likely to seek out only the negative as time goes on. As time goes by, try to gradually increase the number of positive things that you find during the day. As you consciously seek out positive things to write about, your mind will have less time to dwell on those things that seem negative.
4) It allows you to track your moods from day to day.
As you progress with your journal, you can look back and compare your moods from day to day. In this way you may be able to identify what triggers these moods and identify what triggers them. By identifying the trigger, you can better learn to control them. If there is a particular time of day that seems worse than others, keep track of the things that you do during that period and see what can be changed. The same is true if there are times when you feel more upbeat. Find the things that make you happy during that period and why they make you happy.
5) It allows you to find healthy ways to deal with your triggers.
Once you’ve looked through several day’s entries in your journal, you may be able to recognize some sort of pattern to your moods. From those entries you may be able to find a common trigger or triggers that lead to the feelings of hopelessness that often come with depression. Knowing what causes these feelings is empowering because once you identify a problem you can take steps to change it. If it is an outside influence, such as work, you may not be able to change it, but you can change how you react to it. When you look at something in writing, it is often easier to deal with it objectively.
6) It allows you to be honest with yourself.
Since you are the only person who will see your journal, be honest in your writing. When talking with another person, it is sometimes difficult to admit that you handled something badly. In your journal however, you can freely admit to mistakes and take steps to rectify them. As you write down your thoughts, analyze them. If you find yourself having negative thoughts or behaviors, make a conscious effort to see them for what they are and replace them with more positive ones. This type of cognitive behavioral modification doesn’t happen overnight, but with perseverance it can be done.
Keeping a journal to record your thoughts and feelings isn’t meant to replace professional help, particularly when coping with severe depression. It is however, one of the numerous self-help methods that many people find useful. When you are writing in your journal or diary, be sure to congratulate yourself on a job well done. After all, writing in a journal is really just having a heart to heat talk with yourself so when you are proud of how you handled something, give yourself a pat on the back. Just the fact that you are recording your feelings means that you are actively contributing to your own mental well-being and taking positive steps toward gaining control over your life