How To Journal for Your Mental Health

I’ve always kept journals since as long as I can remember.

mental health journaling

When I was really little, my dad worked in notebooks (i.e. laptops) and his company would give him one to bring home. I was mesmerized by it, and he taught me how to open a Word document and type. Soon, I was creating long, electronic diary entries about what I did in school that day and who my best friends were. I still have those documents, written in 20 pt Times New Roman.

As I got older, I kept written journals. The ones I have kept date only as far back as seventh grade, but they’re nice to flip through. Today, I’d consider my blog a bit like journaling. I can look back at old posts and remember exactly what was going on in my life.

As I’ve gone through my mental health journey, I’ve looked for refuge in the form of research. I listen to a lot of podcasts and read a lot of articles and books. Almost every single resource has pointed me towards journaling, so over the past few months, I’ve given it a try.

mental health journal

A lot of you have reached out to me over the past couple months asking what helps me to deal with my anxiety. Well, writing out how I feel and setting goals has been monumental for me. I even asked for some Rifle Paper notebooks for Christmas, so I could write more and specifically devote one entire journal just for my mental health.

Today, I’ll share some tips and also an inside look at how I lay out my journal. I feel a bit like Anna Nalick in her song “Breathe” when she says, “And I feel like I’m naked in front of a crowd, ’cause these words are my diary screaming aloud….” but….do it for the blog, right?

And…I really want to help those who are fighting the same battle in any way that I can.

I start out with a monthly view to track my physical health.

mental health journaling

Since dealing with anxiety, I’ve had frequent migraine headaches and stomach aches and I believe them to be linked to my stress levels. I also track my energy levels, how much I sleep, and how I feel emotionally. Oddly enough (and maybe a little TMI) I noticed that I’ve had an anxiety attack on the second day of my cycle every month for the past three months. Maybe that’s more than you needed to know, but I thought I’d include that just to show you how beneficial it can be to track your mood and symptoms!

I adapted this monthly tracker from a random article I found through a search to fit my needs, so feel free to lay it out however it serves you best.

I set weekly goals and intentions

mental healthy journal

I decided I wanted to have a health goal, fitness goal, emotional goal, and relationship goal each week. I also choose a mantra and an inspiring quote. I love to sit down with hot tea on a Sunday night and set my weekly intentions.

I track what I’m doing each day, how I feel, and take any notes necessary

mental healthy journal

Your mood depends a lot on what’s going on in your day. If you notice you feel more stressed, maybe it’s because you have a presentation at work or a big party you’re hosting. If you feel exhausted, maybe it’s because you had a 6 a.m. workout. As people who suffer from anxiety, we like to know cause and effect. Effects with an uncertain cause can only build more anxiety, so I like to make sense of how I’m feeling. Better yet, I can spot a problem if I find an emotion unattached to any real cause.

Notes could be things like “I had a big fight with my sister” or “I felt really exhausted and took a 3 hour nap”….just anything you’d like to record that felt important – whether it be a positive or negative experience.

I record gratitude

They say it’s what keeps your grounded, so why not try it out. I try to write 2 things I’m thankful for each day. Sometimes they are as simple as “a good book” and sometimes they are more monumental, but it helps me to add positivity to each day.

I keep two other journals

mental healthy journal

I have a journal for lists and to-dos to stay organized. (That’s the pink one.) Being organized and having everything I need to do written down is something that really eases my anxiety, so for me, it’s a really positive thing. I also keep a journal for writing and other tid-bits. (That’s the black one.) When I walk around throughout the day or am by myself, the wheels in my head start turning and sometimes I think of a good line for a blog-post, a new idea, or even a whole chapter for my novel, so I like to write those down there.

I also do fun, thought-provoking journal exercises and list-making. 

mental healthy journal

(a blurry picture, but life’s all about the imperfections soooo….)

mental healthy journal

I’m a sucker for nostalgia. I love things that allow me to look back on my life and where I was at certain points. Recently I started the “52 Lists Journal” and the “Start Where You Are Journal”. The Start Where You are Journal is daily and great for the creative type that wants to get their juices flowing. (And really anyone who just feels like they need help starting to grow.) The 52 Lists is weekly, so I do it Sundays whenever I make my goals for the week. Type-A’s will love the list-making aspect! These are relaxing and fun for me, but I thought I’d share them in case you’d seen them on social media and were wondering if they were any good.

And sometimes, I try to practice mindfulness.

mental healthy journal

It’s a relatively new endeavor, but I’m enjoying learning about it. As you may have noticed, I’m a huge self-help book junkie, and when this one was bargain priced at Barnes and Noble, I couldn’t pass it up. It’s a guide, so even though I read it cover to cover in less than a day, I refer back to it when I feel like I need to focus in. Highly recommend!

Will you try journaling for your mental health this year?



P.S. I vlogged a little behind the scenes into my day-to-day and journaling process! Check that out here.