Why Journaling is Good for Your Mental Health

Posted by Lauren Presutti in Life After Paralysis on February 22, 2023 # Lifestyle, Mental Health

Fifty-five year old man with a disability using computer inside his home.Journaling is one of the easiest things that you can do to reduce stress, help with anxiety or depression, organize your life, build self-awareness, achieve clarity, and overall enhance your sense of inner peace. It’s a great coping skill that you can do privately to make sense of your experiences. For people recovering from trauma, especially those in the spinal cord injury community, journaling can be highly therapeutic and contribute to your sense of healing. Even beyond trauma recovery, journaling helps to keep your thoughts organized as you go through all the ups and downs throughout your life. It’s a great way to unwind after a long day because journaling helps us reflect and process our perceptions, which helps calm our nervous system.

Journaling also helps us create order when we feel like things are chaotic in the world around us. Consider your writing time as your personal relaxation time. Create a calming environment by reducing noise and distractions as you write. This should be a time to slow down and try to make sense of the things that feel chaotic by organizing your thoughts and feelings. You might want to use different headings or bullet points to categorize different events in your life. It might help to draw different boxes in your journal or use different colors of pen or markers when journaling about different stressors. Drawing pictures in your journal may also hope you create order.

Some also find that journaling helps to improve their communication skills. Writing helps you practice how you might explain things to people. This is particularly relevant for those living with paralysis because you will likely need to self-advocate for your needs throughout your life. Journaling about your advocacy efforts will help you increase your confidence. As you go through this process, you will likely feel less anxious about speaking up because getting your thoughts and feelings out on paper tends to make your inner experiences feel more manageable. This can help reduce obsessional thoughts as well. When we keep everything inside, it’s easy to ruminate over the same thoughts and worries repeatedly in our minds. Getting things out on paper is often helpful for feeling less consumed by them.

There is no right or wrong way to journal. Some people prefer to write in a physical notebook, while others find that typing on the computer is easier. Others like to keep a journaling app on their phones so they can jot down notes throughout the day. Choose whichever option appeals to you most. If you struggle with hand function, check out assistive technology like voice dictation to make journaling easier for you. It’s also important to remember that you can engage in journaling as often as you’d like. You might want to journal whenever the mood strikes or set aside a designated time. Exploring what works best for you will help you gain the most out of this process.

To help you get started, below are 10 journal prompts to help build your inspiration for writing:

  1. When do you feel good about yourself?
  2. What is your biggest challenge in life right now?
  3. Which emotions do you find hardest to accept?
  4. What are some of the strongest emotions you’ve ever felt?
  5. What values do you consider most important in life?
  6. Describe the most important life events that helped shape you into who you are today.
  7. What place makes you feel most peaceful?
  8. What do you look forward to most in the future?
  9. Write a list of things you are grateful for.
  10. What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?

To learn about River Oaks Psychology, visit www.riveroakspsychology.com and follow River Oaks Psychology on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.