The Therapeutic Art of Journaling

I've been obsessed with journaling from ever since I could remember.

Even my sisters kept journals. Just simple composition notebooks that withheld the secret stories to their lives of which they'd forbade everyone from ever touching.

Growing up I was quite shy and kept mostly to myself. I also had difficulty talking to people and expressing my emotions orally; so writing in a journal was the only mode in which I was able to comfortably and openly express how I felt.

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However, it was not until my teen years before I began to journal more seriously. I formed a habit of expressing myself creatively through writing, drawing and scrapbooking. I kept more of an artsy kind of journal. I'd sketch my fashion designs, write secret messages to my crush, and plan out the details of my dream life. 

Of course, I strayed away from journaling for awhile (due to the busyness of life) until adulthood. After, graduating college I started experiencing a serious bout of depression. I was coming to the realization that nothing in my life was turning out the way I'd hoped or dreamed. I later realized this was a quarter-life crisis. Most of us have been there! Lol.

Anyway, journaling during this time was the only thing that kept me sane. Whenever, I'd write out my thoughts, it was like the heavy weight of depression was lifted up off of me. My spirit became lighter, my soul uplifted and my mind freed. And so, journaling became a serious habitual practice for me once again.

With all the great and wonderful things I can say about what journaling has done for me. I know many of you may not feel the same. I've heard many people explain they've had a hard time getting into the habit. Or, they only feel moved to write when they are feeling heavy or negative emotions. But it doesn't have to be this way.

I encourage you to try it, before completely giving up on it. 

Now I am very free-spirited, I like to go with the flow of how I am feeling. So here's a few methods I've used in my approach to journaling.

Methods Of Journaling

1| Stream of Consciousness Writing

Well, this method is very similar to Morning Pages. I just prefer to refer to it as a stream of consciousness writing or a brain dump because I am NOT a morning person. I journal mostly at night. Basically, set aside a time you can daily commit to, and just write. That is all. Simply clear your mind by writing out your thoughts as they come to you on paper. Some people like to set a time (usually about 15-20 minutes). Others prefer to write until their thoughts have cease.

Why I love this method? It releases any emotional blocks that  might be inhibiting me from moving on with my day. I typically do this when my spirit is feeling heavy, I am sorting through a negative emotions, or experiencing a creative block.

2| Daily intentions and Affirmations

This is a practice I am trying to get into the habit of. I've always wrote out the vision I have for my life at the start of each New Year. However, I wasn't used to writing it out in a positive, affirming tone.

To write out an affirmation or intention, simply focus on a specific area of your life and write a powerful affirmative statement about who you envision yourself to be or goals you intend to accomplish. For Example:

Today I choose to let go of the spirit of fear. And embrace the spirit of love, peace, joy and abundance.
— Anekia Nicole


3| Daily Gratitude

Studies have proven, having a practice of gratitude has powerful effects on our mental health. It elevates our emotions, enables us to have a more positive outlook on life and helps to generally feel good! 

I generally, express this as a written prayer to God. Many people prefer to write it out as a list or focus on one thing they are grateful for.

4| Daily Prayer

If you're journal is centered on faith and spirituality, you can write out your prayers to chronicle your spiritual growth and answered prayers.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
— Phillippians 4:6


5| Daily Devotional

 Another spiritually centered method of journaling is to incorporate the use of sacred texts. Simply meditate on a line from a sacred text. Then, write out what message you feel God or the universe is saying to you through those words in that moment. I love this method because it enables me to feel more connected to God.

6| Daily Guidance

I am learning tarot this year. As a part of my practice I am pulling daily cards and writing out what comes up for me  in the moment. The purpose of this practice is to familiarize myself with my tarot deck and hone in on my intuitive skills. And just because it's fun!  I got this idea to do this from Esme Wang. Who shares a few really great tips on journaling!

7| Create A List

There are days when I just feel stuck, so I just write a list of whatever random burst of thoughts that pop up in my head at that moment. Keeping it real, I kinda snagged this idea from Alisha Sommer. I hope she doesn't mind! She's an amazing writer and photographer. I always look forward to her daily list of notes posted on her blog.

You can also create a simple list of tasks or activities you've completed for the day.

8| Drawing

This is something new that I plan to get into this year. I took an Art Education course in grad school for which I had to produce art work in class each week. I remember going into every class feeling tired and annoyed about having to do each assignment, but I always left feeling energize and uplifted. Engaging in drawing, painting or creating a piece of art work became a therapeutic process for me. What's more, it was interesting to see how each classmate's artwork was deeply connected to something deeply personal; proving art can serve as therapy.

9| Scrap-booking

Let's be real. Sometimes we're not always in the mood to write! Be creative. Create a mini-vision board in your journal, make a collage of positive visual images or inspiring quotes.


Now these are journaling methods you can try as a part of your practice, but don't feel limited to my suggestions. Do what moves you.

Also, while journaling has great mental health benefits it is not as dynamic as seeking help from a medical professional. And I can bear witness to this. When I was at my lowest of lows, journaling wasn't highly effective for me. I knew what I needed to do, so I I found myself in therapy. All this to say, do not ignore the signs of when you need therapy.

If you're unable to decipher when it is time for therapy?  Davia Roberts, a licensed therapist and founder of Redefine Enough , shares advice on how to tell when it is time to seek therapy: Affirm Podcast: I don't need therapy...or do I?