Did you know that you can journal for better mental health? Research shows that it is one of the best ways to improve your mental health. You can journal in different ways to process your emotions and gain peace and healing.
Though most of us spend our days interacting in the electronic world, writing on paper can be soothing and therapeutic. You don’t have to get fancy to get the benefits of journaling. A simple spiral notebook is perfectly fine. But if it brings you joy to write in a fancier type, there are thousands of choices available to you online and in retail stores.
All you need to get started is to choose one along with a pen or pencil. You will get the most benefits for better mental health if you make this a consistent practice. Set an initial goal of writing once a week, perhaps on Sundays when you have some downtime. You can work up to making short entries once a day, which will help you process everything going on in your life.
Here are twelve ideas for different types of journals you can use.
1. Bible study journal.
A Bible study journal is an excellent resource to use alongside your daily or weekly Bible study. It helps you track your thoughts while you process what you’re learning about God’s Word. You can combine it with highlighting passages in your Bible. You can take notes, write observations, or ask questions you have about what you’re studying. Then you can go to a concordance or Bible commentary to learn more. Don’t forget to write how you can apply what you’ve learned from the Bible.
2. Prayer journal.
A prayer journal is an excellent way to track your spiritual growth over time. Record prayers for yourself and others every day in your journal. Jotting one or two lines per person will keep this neat and organized.
It’s good to go back through your prayers each week to see how God has answered the prayers or how you need to keep praying for the same issues. Leave space if you like in the margins to make colored notations when God says yes, no, or wait. As you review your prayers in the weeks and months ahead, you are certain to see God’s hand at work in your life and the lives of others.
3. Gratitude journal.
A gratitude journal is a proven method for changing your mindset. It will naturally help you focus on the positives in your life despite the challenges you may be facing. You can keep things short and sweet in a by simply listing three to five things each day for which you are thankful.
As you repeat this process again and again, it will become easier for you to find all kinds of things to be grateful for in your everyday life. This will be a powerful influence on your attitude, and it will help you choose positivity over negativity.
4. Art journal.
As children, all of us enjoyed coloring and doodling. You can recapture the joy of making art with an art journal. You don’t need to be a good artist to benefit from this type. Simply buy an unlined paper notebook and use colors and lines to depict your mood.
You can go out in nature and sketch leaves, flowers, rocks, birds, and other wildlife to gain greater peace and joy. Alternatively, you can sketch still-life pieces of inanimate objects within your home that inspire you. For many people, this method is encouraging and fun. It may be just what you need to unleash some creativity and joy in your life.
5. Scripture writing journal.
When you write out Bible verses, you have a 40% better chance of remembering them than simply reading them. Writing out one passage per day can help you memorize it and recall it in times when you need encouragement and strength. You can keep a separate notebook alongside your Bible study journal to serve as your scripture writing journal.
You will likely be surprised at how powerful this simple method can be for strengthening your faith. Try it for 30 days and you’ll be sure to notice greater peace from God in the struggles you face.
6. Line-a-day journal.
A line-a-day journal is a specific kind of journal that leaves just a little space for you to write each day. It is often sold in a five-year format, so you will be able to look back each year and see what you were doing on that day.
You can use it as a diary to record what happens in your life, or you could use it for any of the other methods listed above. These journals are a great way to track your personal and spiritual growth over a long period. They are convenient and easy to use because they only take a minute or two per day to maintain.
7. Dream journal.
We can learn a lot from the dreams that we have at night. Our dreams are tools that our brains used to process our thoughts and emotions. Many dreams are just bizarre, but some dreams can help you process your anxieties and fears.
Keep a dream journal right by your bedside and record your dreams as soon as you wake up from them. If you wait until the morning to record your dreams, you might lose a lot of the details. Writing down as many details as you can remember as soon as you wake up will help you understand your dreams better. A qualified Christian counselor can also provide insight into the dreams that you are experiencing.
8. Talking to your old self journal.
A common technique that Christian therapists use is to help you connect with your past self so you can heal today. You can have a journal dedicated to this purpose. In this journal you can talk to your old self, saying anything that comes to your mind. You might want to offer love and encouragement, or you might want to speak words of correction.
It’s best to not edit yourself as you write in this type of journal. Simply allow your feelings to flow while you picture your old self sitting there and reading the words that you’re writing. This type of journal can be an extremely useful tool as you discuss your past with a Christian counselor.
9. What-if journal.
Many of us struggle with regrets that we didn’t take opportunities that were afforded to us in the past. Some of us wish our lives had taken different tracks. It can be helpful to use a what-if journal to focus on hope for the choices we can make now that will affect our futures. This is also a dream journal, not for the dreams that we have overnight, but for the hopes, wishes, and dreams that we have for the future. The sky is the limit as you record your what-if feelings in this type of journal.
10. Letters to your future self journal.
We’ve already talked about a journal that addresses your past self. But what about using another type of journal where you speak to your future self? This type of journal could help you focus on the kind of person that you want to become as you grow and heal. It can provide you with goals to pursue and virtues to put on as you commit to personal and spiritual growth. This future-focused journal can take your mind off the problems of today and give you hope for what’s ahead.
11. Brain dump journal.
A brain dump journal is an excellent tool to use before you go to bed. Many people benefit from dumping everything that’s on their minds into a journal before they go to sleep. This prevents you from ruminating while you’re trying to fall asleep. It also helps your mind stop spinning if you wake up with insomnia.
When you struggle with disrupted sleep, you can tell yourself that you already wrote everything in your brain dump journal and affirm that you know God is taking care of it all on your behalf. Many people experience more peaceful sleep when they use this type of journal regularly.
12. Topical journal.
Perhaps you are struggling with a certain issue, such as anxiety, depression, financial struggles, or any number of other issues. You can use a topical journal to record all your thoughts on that particular issue. It’s a good place to include scriptures, quotes, and other resources you are finding helpful for addressing that issue.
A good example of this type of journal is an anger journal. It can be a safe place for you to record all your angry thoughts while you process them, so your anger goes on the page instead of onto other people. This type of journal can be a springboard for discussions between you and a Christian counselor.
Journaling for mental health.
While journaling is powerful and effective, you may need additional help from a trusted Christian counselor. If you feel stuck or overwhelmed on your journaling path, don’t hesitate to reach out for a counseling session.
Be sure to bring your journal along so you can discuss the issues with your counselor. What you write in your journal is between you and God, yet it can also be incredibly helpful in counseling sessions so you can become healed and whole. Reach out to us today to get started by meeting with a compassionate Christian counselor.
“Blank Journal”, Courtesy of Jan Kahanek, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Bible and Journal”, Courtesy of Carolyn V, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Planning”, Courtesy of lilartsy, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Journals”, Courtesy of Jess Bailey, Unsplash.com, CC0 License