There are many simple ways you can improve your mental health. One way you can improve your mental health, reduce stress, and ease anxiety by noticing your feelings while journaling. As you write in your journal and note your feelings, you acknowledge your feeling, you can soothe your feeling, or take needed action as a result of your feeling.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Health Encyclopedia article, Journaling for Mental Health, keeping a journal can help you gain control of your emotions and improve your mental health.
When your feelings are all stuffed up, you may feel pressure around your eyes, tightness in your neck and chest, heaviness, or feeling like your emotions are ready to explode for no reason. You don’t know why your mind and body are not giving you the energy you need. You might just push on with your tasks without unwrapping your feelings to release the energy you need. As you unwrap your feelings, feel more freedom, and energy, you will be motivated to write whether in a formal journal or as you go about your day.
There are many ways to make your journal convenient.
- Plan a regular time to write about your feelings.
- Write at the end of the day about feelings that came up.
- Spontaneously write feeling notes on your phone, computer, a scrap of paper, or whatever you have handy.
Noticing your feelings creates awareness.
- To accept your emotions in the moment.
- To recognize triggers and negative self-talk.
- To evaluate your need for healthy outlets like exercise, creativity, nutrition, play, and rest.
Sometimes my feelings seem to get all bunched up and my body feels tense in all the wrong places. I know I need a way to unleash my pent-up thoughts and feelings, but it’s easy to keep pushing on and trying to accomplish all the items in my Action Planner for the day (should I say wish list?). I realized I needed to breakdown my feelings and see what’s going on with me.
I started a feelings journal, with free writing whatever came to my mind, then at the end of a thought or paragraph, I would stop to notice what I was feeling. I wrote the feeling in capital letters. It’s not important to notice whether you have a thought or feeling since feelings and thoughts can cycle back and forth and overlap. For me, the important part was noticing my feelings. Was I judging myself in an unhelpful way? Was there something I needed to do or a problem I was ignoring. Sometimes I just need to recognize the feeling, validate it, and move on.
Journal entry example from Nancy’s feelings journal.
I tell myself I don’t have time to do work that is meaningful to me. SAD. I want to make time for prayer, writing, and self-care. DESIRE. Why can’t I take 5-minutes to write in my journal, pray, meditate, and jot down ideas? Maybe the problem is that I don’t value myself, my God, or my work. SELF-VALUE.
I feel like I want to do something for myself, like watch a Dr. Who show, while eating lunch. SELFISH. I know I could be doing something more productive with my time. I have a list of things to do. PRESSURE. I will relax and eat, then work. FUN! Traveling through time and space while watching a show, gives me new perspectives when I get back to reality. MOTIVATED.
Use this emotions chart to increase your emotions vocabulary.