Journal Keeping
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Journal Keeping

Many people find that keeping a personal journal is a paramount part of their daily mental health regime.   For those who have never kept a journal before, this may seem intimidating, silly or even worthless.

Before you give up on keeping a journal, let's discuss some of the benefits.

What is a journal?

A journal is an account or record of what you are thinking.  In a personal journal you have the freedom to express all of your positive and negative thoughts, feelings, what you are noticing about yourself and others, and what you are experiencing.   This can be written out by hand, recorded on a tape player, or typed onto a word processor or internet journal.  Many internet sites are now available for keeping personal journals, (see link below or do a web search to find one you like).

What are some of the benefits of "journaling"?

Journaling gives you time to reflect on your day.  It increases your self awareness, and personal insight.  Journaling can also give you a historic perspective on how you have changed.  It gives you insight on what works and what doesn't.  A journal can be an excellent resource on what things "trigger" certain responses or even episodes.  A journal is also a place to "let go", without the fear that you will be judged by others.

When to journal?

Some people use their journals every day several times a day, for instance: in the morning, to start the day with a fresh start and help identify goals for the day; in the afternoon, a mid-day break to collect thoughts; and in the evening to review the day's events and how you responded to them.   This is the best way to start journaling, it gets you into the right habit.

Others journal once a day.  Still others journal when an important positive or negative event happens, or when they feel a mania or depression episode coming.

There is really no right or wrong time to journal.

How to get started?

Pretend that you are writing to a best friend.  Be loose and don't worry about grammar or spelling.  One day you, your family or even your doctor could use this journal to better understand what you are experiencing.

Use a theme such as a poem, anger, a quote or saying.

Ask yourself the following questions:

What new awareness did I have today?

Today I most often felt:

What was most often on my mind today?

How am I changing?

Something I particularly liked about myself today was:

How did you relate to others today?

How did you cope with problems today?

What behaviors do I need to keep?

What behaviors do I need to adjust?

  BPW kc 3/2004


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