Many teens keep their deepest, darkest secrets tucked safely away inside the pages of a treasured diary. Housing everything from their latest crush to things their mom “just don’t understand,” diaries allow teens to express their emotions freely.
But diaries aren’t just places for kids to vent about their parents. Research has shown that journaling can relieve stress and anxiety. This is a positive outlet for adults to vent as well.
But you’ll need to do more than simply jot down what you ate for breakfast and the day’s weather. Instead, focus your thoughts so you can truly benefit from the health benefits of journaling. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Find a quiet spot where you can write or type without any interruptions for 15 to 20 minutes. If you’re using a computer, consider using a website like Penzu.com where you can journal privately online.
As you’re writing, don’t worry about spelling or grammar mistakes. Just let your feelings flow onto the paper.
If you’re having trouble getting started, prompts can help. You can do a web search to find ideas, or you can ask yourself a question or focus on a specific emotion or situation. Here are some prompts to help you get started:
- “I get angry when…”
- “I know I’m stressed when…”
- “I could have handled the situation better by…”
- “I feel out of control when…”
- “I’m frustrated by…”
- “I wish I could change…”
Don’t Hold Back
Unless you decide to share it with someone, your journal is entirely private. Feel free to explore your honest thoughts and feelings without self-censoring. You don’t have to worry about hurting someone you love with your words.
Include both facts and emotions in your journal entries. First, write about the source of your stress, including who or what is causing you to feel stressed or anxious, and when and where the situation occurred. Then write about how you feel. Putting objective information alongside your feelings may help you pinpoint what it is about a particular situation that’s making you feel stressed. You’ll be able to gain a deeper understanding of your emotions, which can help you focus your energy on finding a positive outcome.
Journal Every Day
To establish a routine, try to journal every day. Of course, if you miss a day, don’t stress about it! You can pick your writing back up the next day.
Focus on the Positive, Too
While journaling can relieve stress and anxiety as you write about your frustrations, you should also include things you’re grateful for. Research shows that gratitude journals — diaries in which you write about the people and things you’re thankful for — also offer emotional and health benefits such as better quality of sleep, increased happiness and fewer symptoms of illnesses.
Try Other Mediums
If writing isn’t for you, try something else. Use your phone or computer to record yourself speaking about your thoughts and feelings. Want to include pictures or drawings with your journal? Create a scrapbook journal.
Do you keep a personal journal? Share your own tips about how to journal in the comments.
Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.