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  • Writer's pictureJamee Leichtle

Back-to-school: The Benefits of Journaling for Mental Health

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Teenagers back to school

Back-to-school can be an exhilarating time for children, teens, and young adults. In addition to the excitement families may feel as a new school year kicks off, it is also natural for students and parents to experience varying levels of anxiety and stress during this transition. An effective way to help manage overwhelm during this transition is journaling!

What is Journaling?

Journaling is an empowering, effective tool that can help navigate significant transitions, improve mental health, boost self-confidence, increase self-awareness, and facilitate deep healing. Journaling includes writing thoughts, feelings, and life experiences onto paper without a particular structure or a set of rules, and most importantly, without self-judgment.

For some people the physical act of writing can feel laborious for many reasons. Perhaps you...

  • Have difficulty sitting in place

  • Lack the energy

  • Prefer not to hand-write things.

Luckily, typing into a smartphone or computer and speaking into a recorder can be equally effective ways to journal and offer the same benefits.

The magical thing about journaling is that you can tailor it to whatever works best for you!

Journaling is an excellent idea if you struggle with mental health issues.

It can be extremely challenging to resolve or let go of the things that weigh you down and keep you stuck, especially when we are sometimes unaware of what those things are. Journaling can bring these hidden or difficult things to light. It is an intentional way for you to become aware of problems, triggers, and fears that may intensify distressing emotions, negative thoughts, and problematic behaviors.

Journaling also gives you a healthy way to:

  • Express yourself

  • Regulate emotions

  • Solve problems so that you can untangle things within you

  • Become more present

  • Live more fully

Studies have shown that journaling helps reduce anxiety, improves mood, strengthens relationships, and enhances well-being.

Additionally, you can use journaling to:

  • Identify and achieve goals

  • Prioritize responsibilities

  • Stay organized

  • Practice positive self-talk

  • Practice gratitude

  • Express your creativity

  • Inspire new ideas

If you are new to journaling...

You can start small by dedicating just 5 minutes daily, at least 3-5 times a week.

Generally, it is helpful to set a regular time to journal. However, you can be as flexible as you would like. As you become more comfortable with the process, aim to implement journaling as a daily practice, allocating as much time as you desire each day. The more consistent you are, the more likely you will be able to build this positive, new habit.

Woman journaling on the beach

Finding a private, peaceful place to claim as your personal relaxation space to add to its benefit can also be helpful.

The fantastic thing about journaling is...

It allows you the freedom and autonomy to make it unique to you – you can write down whatever comes to mind and allow it to flow freely. Try not to think about spelling errors, random run-on sentences, or lack of structure. You may also draw, write poetry, write song lyrics, make bullet points, write letters, etc.

Here are some journal prompts to help you get started:

  • What current changes are happening in your life? How do these changes make you feel?

  • Who inspires you the most in your life? What about them makes them inspiring?

  • What is one adventure you would like to have this upcoming year?

  • What makes you feel anxious? How do you cope when you feel anxious?

  • Name three things you are grateful for today. Describe how each of these things makes you feel.

  • Write a letter to someone who has hurt you. Share your thoughts and feelings you didn't have the opportunity to express then.

  • What is a favorite memory that comes to mind? Describe what happened.

  • Write about one thing you are afraid of and why.

  • Write about one hobby or activity that brings you joy. Why do you think it brings you joy?

  • List as many things as you can that make you feel joy. What are some ways you can implement these things into your life more?

  • How would your best friend describe you? Do you agree with them?

  • What would it look like if you magically had everything you ever wanted?

  • What is a current goal that you have? What ideas do you have to work towards this goal?

  • Reflect on the past year. What are some ways that you have grown? What are some ways you would like to continue to grow?

  • Write about three things that make you feel stressed. How would you say you are managing these stressors?

  • Write about three things that make you feel anxious. How would you say you are managing your anxiety?

  • Name some of your strengths. How can these strengths help you with a current stressor of yours?

  • What three wishes would you have if a genie in a bottle magically appeared?

  • Name one of your favorite songs. What does the song mean to you? How does it make you feel?

  • What do you like the most about your family? What are some things you don't like about your family?

  • What does friendship mean to you? How would you describe a good friend? How would you tell your not-so-good friend?

  • What are three qualities that you like about yourself and why?

  • Write about a time someone showed an act of kindness toward you. What was this experience like?

  • Write about a time you showed someone an act of kindness. What was this experience like for you?

  • What is one adventure you would like to have this upcoming year?

  • What are you currently most excited about and why?

If you are seeking a safe and judgment-free space to explore and heal past and current hurts, RFC Counseling & Wellness may be a great fit for you. We are a mental health practice providing individual, couple and family counseling services to all residents in Colorado and California. Our specialties include treating trauma-related disorders, anxiety-related disorders, low self-esteem, difficult life transitions & relationship challenges. Our approach to treatment is trauma-informed, person-centered, culturally responsive, strengths-based and relational. We utilize a variety of theoretical perspectives to provide integrative and holistic treatment that is tailored uniquely to you.

Take a first step toward healing and positive change. Book a free phone consultation today!


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