Angeline Peng

Journaling is a very useful tool for you to write down your emotions and make sense of them. It is an outlet for expressing your emotions in a healthy way. Putting down your thoughts and emotions on paper can keep them from being bottled up in your head. It also reduces stress by helping yourself stay organized. Journaling is also very easy and cheap to do, unlike some other methods like meditation and yoga. However, there are times when you can come out of journaling feeling worse than when you started.


 As for me, I hate writing down my thoughts and emotions, especially the negative ones, because writing them down makes them material, and so makes them worse. Other times, I get frustrated and stop journaling half way. There are tons more issues that can arise from journaling incorrectly. It might amplify your negative feelings or you might end up throwing yourself a pity party (nothing wrong with that, trust me) and not getting anywhe


To remedy these issues, let’s first make sure that you understand the 3 steps of journaling.


Write about the things that happened. This is the part of journaling that everybody understands. It serves as a foundation for the next steps that will lead you to confront your problems and emotions in a healthy manner. If you’re not sure what’s bothering you, try jotting down the things that happened. You might be able to find out what is causing it. 

Don’t only focus on the negative. Sometimes, it’s easy to only write about everything that went wrong. If you consistently do this, you might find yourself feeling more and more hopeless. Try to get yourself to write down some good things that happened to you, like a gratitude journal. This cultivates a positive mindset and makes you feel happier in general. 

Is it okay to feel this way? Next, write down if you think whether or not it is okay to feel the way that you are feeling. If you got mad at a friend and said a really hurtful thing, it’s okay. People get mad from time to time and you should never blame yourself and call yourself a bad person. Nobody’s perfect. This is the time to let go of any guilt or other negative emotions that you feel. It might be hard to do this but it is way easier when you’re writing it down. 

What can I do to solve the problem or make myself feel better? This is the most important part of journaling. Journaling is all about self-reflection and getting to a better place emotionally. Calm yourself down and think rationally. When everything’s in your head, it might be hard to think rationally. When you put it down on paper, it helps to organize everything and this allows you to solve your problems better with a lighter head. You might find that there is nothing you can do about a situation. You might have to learn to be at peace with your situation in order to make yourself feel better. Sometimes it’s a good idea to take a break and come back later. 


These are just some broad guidelines for you to follow, but it is very important that you try to follow through with all these steps. If you don’t, you might end up in a worse state than you began. Did you notice that the problems listed could be counteracted if you complete steps 2 and 3 completely? Many people forget about the last two steps and this may lead to unhealthy journaling. 


Journaling is also a very hard habit to pick up. Many people try it at one point, but like going to the gym, give up after a while because they were busy for a while and quit. If you find that it’s hard to fit journaling into your day, try to make it a weekly thing. Get yourself to journal things that happened to you throughout the week. Move to journaling daily if you feel that you are ready for the commitment. Try to make it a habit for you to journal and express your emotions in a healthy manner. 




Journaling for Emotional Awareness: A Recovery Exercise

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