Unlocking Wellness Series- Journaling for Emotional Wellbeing

June 14, 2024

Lisa Nguyen

Once you've established a regular journaling practice focused on relaxation, you can expand your writing to support overall emotional wellbeing. Journaling is one of the most effective tools for mental and emotional health.

On a daily basis, we experience a spectrum of emotions: excitement, joy, sadness, anger, fear, shame. Emotions are data that give us clues about our needs. But often we suppress or ignore them.

Journaling provides a healthy outlet to process emotions as they arise so they don't get bottled up. Give each emotion space to be felt and expressed on the page.

Writing about emotions can help you better understand where they stem from. Are they reactions to external events? Or old patterns rooted in past experiences? Journaling increases emotional self-awareness.

Further, use your journal to cultivate positive emotions like gratitude, optimism and love. What people, activities or blessings make you feel grateful today? What are you looking forward to? Who/what do you appreciate? Focus feeds emotion.

Reflect on emotions that no longer serve your happiness. How can you reframe situations that trigger anger or jealousy? What underlying needs can be better met through healthy communication?

With regular journaling, you become fluent in the language of feelings. You can decipher messages of the heart to heal, grow and thrive.

Regulating Difficult Emotions and Mood

A regular journaling practice fosters self-awareness around emotions, but what about when difficult feelings become overwhelming? Journaling can also be a tool to actively regulate challenging moods as they arise.

Start by just naming the emotions you are experiencing - "I feel sad, scared and alone right now." Putting feelings into words activates the rational, thinking parts of the brain which can override emotional centres.

Then, investigate where these emotions are coming from. Are you really alone or do you have supportive relationships? Is there a root cause making you feel scared? Tracing emotions to their origins helps defuse them.

Consider past times you have overcome the same feelings. When have you pushed past sadness successfully before? Remind yourself of your strength and resilience.

Set a positive intention for how you want to feel - "I want to feel grounded and calm. My anxiety will pass." Writing out what you want actually makes it more achievable.

Describe how your ideal self would react - with patience? wisdom? courage? You can journal yourself into right action.

When emotions threaten to overwhelm, journaling allows you to loosen their grip and regain control. Over time, you build skills to steer your moods consciously toward those that serve you.

Building Self-Esteem and Growth Mindset

Journaling is a powerful tool for managing emotions in the moment. But it can also be used proactively to build self-esteem and cultivate a growth mindset over time.

Many of us engage in negative self-talk - messages that reinforce low self-worth and perceived flaws. Left unchecked, this corrodes self-esteem. Fortunately, we can reframe limiting beliefs through journaling.

List past accomplishments and strengths. What are you proud of achieving? What do you appreciate about yourself? Write yourself some overdue praise.

Imagine how your role model or future self would perceive you. They would be proud! Write from their wise, caring perspective.

Pay attention to areas where your inner critic is harshest - appearance, intelligence, competence, etc. Intentionally journal about why these qualities do not define your worth.

With consistent, structured journaling, you can dismantle limiting beliefs and build self-esteem from the inside out.

Further, a growth mindset views abilities as flexible rather than fixed. Journal honestly about skills you want to develop, then map out steps to get there. Describe how you'll feel when you succeed.

Your journal is a place to dream big for your life. When you fall short, write encouragement about progress over perfection.

With daily writing practice, you plant seeds of self-esteem and growth that flourish into unshakable confidence and potential. The pen clarifies what really matters.

Foster Positive Psychology and Resilience

Once you have established affirming self-talk and a growth mentality through journaling, you can further develop positive psychology and resilience. Our outlook shapes our reality, and our journal is the perfect place to transform perspective.

Start by actively curating gratitude. Each day, think about 3-5 things you are grateful for - running water, a good meal, quality time with family. It resets your mindset from lack to abundance.

Also jot down daily wins and accomplishments, no matter how small. You got out of bed, drank enough water, turned in a report. Celebrate it all.

Look back regularly at older journal entries. Note how previous problems resolved themselves with time or lost significance. This builds trust in life's unfolding.

When challenges arise, reframe them in your journal as opportunities to grow. How can this make you wiser and stronger? What hidden gifts or lessons exist?

Regularly affirm that you have everything you need within and around you to handle whatever arises. Write about drawing on inner reserves of strength.

Describe how making it through tough times proves you are more resilient than you realize. Your journal shows the evidence of all you have overcome.

Fostering positive psychology and resilience in your journal rewires your mind to see the world as abundant, meaningful and worth living.


Lisa Nguyen

Lisa Nguyen is a second-year MSc student in Integrative Biosciences at Western University. Lisa is passionate about leveraging digital mental health technology to enhance public health and well-being. Her current research focuses on exploring the effects of a financial incentive-based mental health fitness app on participant step count over a span of 24 months.