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Keeping a journal is one of the things that mental health professionals, therapy types and fellow patients suggest as a way of helping yourself cope with the day-to-day struggles and challenges of life.

One of the benefits to journaling is that it lets you express your feelings, positive and negative, in a safe and healthy way. You can pour out all your feelings onto a sheet of paper, or into an online journal entry. Putting them on paper helps work though them.

Journaling also lets you establish a routine that helps provide a sense of structure for a chaotic mind and life. You can accomplish this by picking a consistent time of day. You do not necessarily have to choose an exact time of day (e.g. 8pm), but rather a general time (e.g. every day before bed, when you first get up in the morning, etc).

In my opinion, the second way is a better approach. It gives you flexibility in case you cannot do it at the exact same time on any given day, but it still gives you enough structure to develop routine. One thing to keep in mind is that it is OK to miss any given day. Life happens and sometimes despite our best efforts, we run out of hours in the day.

While developing a routine of when you write in your journal helps provide a sense of structure, it is important to note that you should not hesitate to write at other times as well. If something is having a significant impact on your emotions or you suddenly have a moment of understanding that you do not want to forget, take the time to write it down as soon as possible. The closer to the actual event you write it down the more detailed and accurate the entry will be.

Keeping a journal also allows you to keep track of where you have been. It is a good way to track your moods and find patterns and triggers. Since it is, a record of how you are feeling at any given time it also becomes a good tool to use in aiding your therapy sessions as well. You can either share it with your doctor or read it again before your session to refamiliarize yourself with what you have been feeling and the circumstances related to those feelings since you last visit.

Journals are a very useful and powerful aid in dealing with the challenges related to mental illnesses. They have helped me greatly over the years.

Posted: September 27th, 2011 under Helpful Tips.

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