Therapeutic Journaling


Prompt: Therapeutic
Journaling has been part of my life ever since one of my high school’s best friends was recommended to use one during her anxiety therapy. She didn’t kept doing it, I got addicted. Here is some information about journaling, tips and ideas. Thank you for reading!

What is journaling exactly?

It’s basically a record of your life or something specific about it and your feelings, thoughts and reactions towards it. The last part is important, as it differentiate it from a mere ‘diary’ or ‘log’. A diary or log only record facts, time, date, names, anything concrete and has little to do with your own psyche. I usually log what we have for dinner for future references, but I journal about my journey through life.

Why would you journal anyway?

There are countless of reasons people write journals. Some find it fun, others important, a connection to your inner self, someone higher, for your children as legacy, to learn a language, to learn lessons or just to feel like someone is listening. In psychology it is vastly used as a therapeutic method, allowing the client to freely express their inner thoughts and feelings without fear of being judge. This of course is not for everyone. Some people are paranoid about people reading their deepest selves, and for this we need to try something else.

What kind of journals are there?

Countless. I keep both a dream and personal journal in a same journal. I keep a gratitude journal in a simple golden angelic agenda with 10 lines per day where I write 10 things I am grateful for about the day or life in general. In my normal journal I write my dreams if I feel I should as soon as I wake up. This journal has passed from all methods and kind, but more of that later on.
Normal daily journals serve as both log and journal. This is because you write about your day but you also write about how you felt about it. You write about how someone made you feel, you record the good and the bad. And you let it go. I like to keep mine with a 10 years private policy. If a journal is 10 years old, then I don’t mind anyone reading it. That was my old self, someone who has grown now. I read back on my old journals and I see someone else that isn’t me. And yet as I read the good memories, I am thankful I got to experience them. The bad, I’m glad it is past and it is now alright. It organize your thoughts, it helps your memory and helps you understand why things happen the way they do, or why you react in a certain way. This is the type of journal mostly used by people and in therapy sections, followed by the dream journal.

The dream journal is recommended to be kept beside your bed and write in it as soon as you are awake, even if it’s 3am. This is because the memory is still fresh and the brain hasn’t woken up entirely. As soon as you start to think about something else like, “I need to wake up soon,” the memory begins to fade. Dream journals are very useful in therapy. They help the therapist and the client understand what is going on in a deeper level. Freud himself used it this way even though I don’t really agree with his ideas. I’m more of a Carl Jung student.

Other simple journals, which can also be logs unless you analyze what you write, are reading journals, music journals, poetry, travel journals, food journals, pictures and countless of more. I’m a note-aholic, so I always try to find what to do with a cute notebook I just got.

A gratitude journal is a therapy in itself without the need of intervention of anyone else. There is nothing to understand about it. Gratitude journaling you do with your heart, and write, and when you think you are having a bad day and yet you manage to write at least five positive things, your whole perspective on life begins to change. You begin to notice those things that really matter rather than how bad your hair was or why the car didn’t start. I like to call it “the magical journal”. Miracles begin to happen, life begin to give you more to be grateful for, or rather you start to notice them more. You become happier. This I guarantee.

How can you keep a journal?

I’ve tried all the methods I can think of and find online. I began with a simple school notebook, decorated it and write all I wanted with colors, crayons, glitters and what not. As I began to love the flow of ink I began to buy expensive ones to just write and nothing else. Some people draw, others put pictures, I just love to write words. When we got internet for the first time (I believe I was 14), I began to keep an online private journal. I regret the fact that they are now offline, I couldn’t back up anything I wrote. But I loved it so much. I would share what I wanted, keep private what I didn’t and read other’s too.

Then I moved to blogging, this is how I met one of my lifetime best friends. I moved back and forth through notebooks and blogs, private journal software like Diary One, as well as a simple MS Word document with password. I recently discovered how to keep one with cards, although I won’t do that one. The means are as infinite as your imagination. Right now I am trying to keep it all in digital, as it’s lighter to carry just my Ipad than all these books and journals and pens. Now with my kobo and its browser function I might go on to just carry that. My plan is to print it later as a trade book in blurb.com and then delete it of course. I don’t mind much about privacy with people who don’t even know me. So I am not afraid of doing so. Everyone is different.

I greatly recommend people to keep a journal whenever they are having trouble remembering things or processing events. But it takes time and dedication; more dedication than time. But if you can spare 5 minutes a day, even 10, then just do the gratitude one and let me know the difference as time goes by. Also, don’t fret, it’s not supposed to be professional writing, but something very personal, let yourself go, trust yourself and the pen or keyboard. There are no rule sin journaling but one, BE YOURSELF.

I have countless of tips in journaling. But I will write on those individually later on.

Some useful websites for free private journal keeping I like the most:

If you have Microsoft Office or Open Office or similar software, the text editor has a password restriction function you can use. Also, you can just create your own journal email where you email yourself every day. This I call email journaling, even though I haven’t seen anything about this idea online I think is great now that most mail services have unlimited space, backup and document storage.

she writes