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How to Get the Most Out of Your Journal

You know journaling is a good idea and you’re trying to make it part of your daily routine. Maybe you’ve done something really positive for your mental health by purchasing The CBT Journal. You’re convinced by the potential benefits and you’re eager to give it your best shot. Today, I’m going to tell you how to get the most out of your journal.

These simple strategies will help you supercharge your journaling practice and really impact your wellbeing.

Be Clear About Your Why

There are many motivations for starting a journal. Maybe you want to know yourself better, process difficult emotions, learn more about the patterns of your mind, or simply dedicate some time to self-care. Knowing your why will keep you focused and help you reach your journaling goals.

Create a Regular Habit

Practice makes perfect! Feedback from other people suggests the more you write, the easier it gets. I certainty found this to be true when I first started journaling. You can read more about creating journaling habit here. The main thing to remember is that it takes time to develop a regular practice. Don’t give up at the first hurdle.

Make it a Morning Thing

In the morning, the world tends to be quiet and calm. The same goes for your mind, so it’s an ideal time for things like meditation and journaling. Try reaching for your pen while enjoying your first hot drink of the day.

Go Back and Reflect

Although this can be difficult, especially if you’ve been having a rough time, there’s a lot you can learn by looking back and reflecting on your journal entries. Doing so can help you see there’s always a way to move through struggles and challenges. Reflecting can also prompt you to think about what you might do differently if you ever find yourself in the same situation again.

Write for Yourself

Journaling is like a therapist that’s always there for you, ready to listen as you vent, helping you process things, be objective and allowing you to be your truest self. Try adopting the same approach when you journal. Avoid censoring or masking – just go for it.

See Your Strengths

When you start writing about your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, it’s easy to focus on the negatives. Things like where you’re going wrong or what you could do differently. But it’s also important to see your strengths and recognise your resilience. You’re doing a great job! Allow yourself to feel empowered.

Engage with the Emotion

If you want to process difficult feelings and benefit from the good ones, you need to work on engaging with your emotions. Therapists are taught to look for the emotion that isn’t there as it often reveals what is blocked or difficult to feel. So, as well as trying to feel your feelings, ask yourself what emotion is missing.

Feel a Little Gratitude

A gratitude practice can lift your mood, reduce anxiety and help you get through difficult or challenging times. It’s the perfect ingredient for wellbeing, so follow my advice here and try adding it to your journaling practice.

Be Self-Compassionate

The tone you use when you journal is important. You need to create an internal world that’s supportive and compassionate. It’s not just about being kind – it’s about engaging with difficulties and allowing your strength and inner wisdom to move you forward. How would you talk to a friend in this situation? How would you coach someone you cared about if they were feeling this way? You deserve the same treatment on the pages of your journal.

Above all, keep going! Journaling isn’t a quick fix, but it is a huge step towards good mental health.

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Sarah Rees

Sarah is a fully accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and mental health writer delivering Modern Mental Health for you and with you in Mind. Sarah is the author of ‘The CBT Journal’ which helps you write for your wellbeing incorporating CBT techniques. For more information and to keep in touch have a look at sarahdrees.co.uk.