Journaling has positive mental health benefits for everyone, not just someone in crisis. With popular trends like gratitude journals growing every day on social media, it’s easy to see that journaling is having some pretty powerful effects on individual growth, self-improvement, and recovery. It’s even been positively linked with better physical health, better sleep habits, and increased productivity.
If simple text isn’t your style, you can spruce up your journal with visuals and create a masterpiece of a photo journal. Draw your own pictures, create a collage, or print out your treasured memories with your best friends. Another possibility is starting a digital photo journal that can be shared with your therapist or recovery counselor via a private photo-sharing app.
Whether you have just made the first step towards treatment via an online service like BetterHelp, you’re actively seeing a psychologist, or you are figuring out how to adjust to an unfamiliar world after a period of time inpatient, here are three reasons why psychologists are increasingly recommending a daily dose of doodling in a notebook.
It will help you manage your emotions.
Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are all distinct illnesses with their own constellations of symptoms, to be certain. It’s noteworthy, then, that psychiatrists are finding more and more similarities between them, even managing to narrow down a set of genres that underlies several psychiatric disorders.
One commonality shared by all of the major classifications is difficulty managing emotions. Some people with depression become withdrawn and socially isolated during episodes, while manic or psychotic episodes common to schizoaffective and bipolar disorders tend to manifest in anger, hostility, and aggression. If you struggle with anger or find yourself unable to identify your emotions, a habit of daily journaling can help you understand and process your triggers on the page before they overwhelm you.
It will empower you.
The simple act of writing out your thoughts, whether they are daydreams, observations, or future goals, can increase your odds of achieving success and finding happiness. Everyone from psychologists to Law of Attraction junkies acknowledges that when you physically write out your thoughts, they are likely to manifest into reality. That is to say, if you journal with a positive mindset, you are inviting positivity into your life.
How can you apply this principle with photos? By creating art with inspiring, hopeful images that encourage you. It might not seem like much. It might just be a coincidence. Nevertheless, one study of Harvard students revealed significantly higher rates of success among the group who wrote out their goals compared to those who merely kept them to themselves. Perhaps the act of creating visual manifestation boards makes it “real” to us, and we are compelled to follow through with more confidence.
It will make you smarter.
Once regarded as a character flaw, depression is now known to be a fairly severe disorder with the potential for reduced neurogenesis and cell death over the long term. Some neuroscientists are even going so far as to compare it to neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s, which causes similar dysfunctions relating to memory loss, goal-setting, and difficulty gathering one’s thoughts.
Depression is unlikely to cause you to forget who your family members are in the same way an elderly Alzheimer’s patient might, but the underlying root cause is the same. Keeping your brain active is crucial when you are struggling with any type of neurodegenerative disorder, and one way to ensure that that happens is by consistently writing. Your journaling routine will gradually make you more creative, intelligent, and productive.