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So, about Journal Therapy...

About 2 weeks ago, I was honored to participate in a Mental Wellness panel discussion as part of a movement called "The Love Again Initiative". (I'll share more about that in another post, as it totally deserves its own space.) I was one of 5 panelists, and as a writer, my contribution was to share the benefits of Journal Therapy. As a mental wellness remedy, the practice is growing in popularity, and I often wonder if people even know it's a thing. While I have an obvious bias, I believe that Journal Therapy is wildly useful and that anyone can benefit from it.


"The Love Again Initiative" Mental Wellness Panel Discussion

What exactly is “Journal Therapy”?

Journal/Writing Therapy involves the therapeutic use of journaling exercises and prompts to bring about awareness and improve mental health conditions as a result of inner and outer conflicts. According to the Center for Journal Therapy, it is the “purposeful and intentional use of reflective writing to further mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health and wellness.” Though there are few professionals who specialize solely in journal therapy, many psychotherapists incorporate therapeutic journal writing into their treatment.


Therapeutic writing exercises focus on the writer’s internal experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Like other forms of therapy, Journal Therapy can be used to heal a person’s emotional or physical problems or work through a trauma, such as an illness, addiction, relationship problems, occupational stresses and more.


How does it work?

It's is primarily used with people in therapy to increase awareness and insight, promote change and growth, and further develop their sense of self. Through various writing prompts and activities, a journal therapist will guide a person in treatment toward his or her own goals. The act of writing things down often relieves tension and can bring clarity to the issue at hand.


As it relates to the treatment of metal illnesses, Journal Therapy can be both preventative and diagnostic. It can help to pinpoint influential life events, environmental triggers, and even food choices that can lead to the decline or improvement in a person's wellness. I think that there's a bit of a misconception that you have to be diagnosed with a specific mental illness to benefit from therapy. I wholeheartedly disagree, and writing therapy is an easy (not to mention free) way of caring for the ongoing state of your mental wellness.


Why I love it so much...

I'm a writer by nature, so I've always turned to writing to help express the contents of my heart and mind. But I can recall specific times in my life where the habit of writing every day was a coping mechanism. There are a few specific, very dark days when writing quite possibly saved my life. It undoubtedly revealed my purpose. When I felt like no one understood me (not even me), I would write. And I kept writing. My journals became a safe, trusted space, non-judgmental and always reliable. As long as I showed up for her, she showed up for me. (Oh, yeah...my journals are absolutely girls. And I tell them everything!) But here's where the real work happens: Eventually, after all of the writing, which is in itself therapeutic...I would eventually go back and read what I wrote. That part wasn't easy at first. Sometimes it still isn't. But I've learned more about myself from reading my own journals than I could've ever imagined. And I'm convinced that it's one of the most unique self-discovery journeys that a person could ever take.


Royal Ink shares the benefits of Journal/Writing Therapy.

HOW TO START YOUR THERAPY JOURNAL


1. TIME YOURSELF.

Start with a time limit of 5 or 10 minutes. If you leave it open, the task might seem overwhelming or you might start to get bored. Set a timer and use all of the time.


2. USE PAPER ONLY.

It is possible to journal on your laptop or phone, but it’s best to avoid screens and write in a notebook instead. Allow yourself to slow down, be intentional, and really immerse yourself in the creative process of journaling. Take your time to complete your thoughts and physically move them from your mind to the paper.


3. DATE YOUR ENTRIES.

This will allow you to look back and reflect on what’s been happening in your life and how you felt at different times. This can be incredibly insightful. It also shows you the gaps between your entries, which is helpful to consider and keep track of.


4. BE TRUTHFUL.

Your journal is yours and yours alone. Write down the truth about what’s going on in your life and how you feel about. Write like no one will ever read it. Don’t talk yourself out of accepting what you’re really feeling. Take your time, control your pace, and let the truth flow out.


5. RE-READ YOUR ENTRIES.

There is something important in every single journal entry that you write, even if you don’t see it as you’re writing it. Always keep your journal entries and re-read them. It’s likely that even you don’t know the depths of what you were feeling in a moment until you go back and revisit it through your own words.


I hope you'll dive right in. Write like it matters, and it will. Wishing you excellent health in your mind, body, and spirit!


Keep it ROYAL!

~Audrey


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