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Journaling for Healthy Healing and Personal Growth

Let's cut straight to the point: Journaling is a great tool for reflection, growth, and healing. It's also a wonderful tool for safely examining past trauma, hurts, abuse, and loss. It can be a powerful tool for true healing -- and the integration of that healing.

Journaling is simply the act of recording (written, audio, video) your thoughts, feelings, insights, dreams, and experiences. Partly it's done so you don't forget, but it's more often done so that you can dig deeper into yourself and understand yourself better.

I was never much of a journaler as a child, but as I moved into the wellness field, I learned the power of journaling... and in the past several years, my journaling has even moved into a higher gear, helping me with my journey of healing and growth. In other words, you don't need any prior experience with journaling -- just an interest in learning how journaling might help you with your healing.

This article looks at the benefits of journaling, some helpful prompts for healing and reflection, and some additional journaling and healing resources.


Benefits of Journaling

1. Journaling is a Release. By creating a depository for your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, you provide an outlet for all that to go. It's no longer bottled up inside you, churning, and causing issues. You can shout for joy, scream in pain, and just about anything else -- and your journal will accept it all!

2. Journaling Reduces Anxiety. By releasing through journaling, you may reduce anxiety levels while also increasing feelings of well-being. One interesting study found that subjects who were experiencing anxiety had fewer depressive symptoms and greater feelings of calmness when they spent 15 minutes a day, three days a weeks, for 12 weeks, writing an online journal.

3. Journaling Helps Regulate Emotions. When we are experiencing dysregulated emotions, we tend to be overreactive, experience rapid mood swings, can be easily overwhelmed by seemingly minor things, and have issues with controlling impulsive behaviors. By keeping a journal, we have a place where we can safely express and release our emotions. One study found that writing about feelings in an abstract way was calming to participants.

4. Journaling Fosters Honesty & Awareness. When we have suffered trauma, when we are unhealed, we often wear masks to hide our inner depressed/hurt/broken person; we lie because the truth is worse. But when we journal, when we spend time looking inward, we tend to be brutally honest -- which is a key to the healing puzzle. With journaling, we can identify triggers and help recognize where we need healing. We can't heal what we aren't willing to admit needs healing.

5. Journaling Helps With Problem-Solving. So much has been studied and written about the power of writing for learning, remembering, and solving complex issues. By simply laying out the issues as you see them, you are engaging in problem-solving that often is too complex to solve in our heads alone. With successful problem-solving, not only do we discover critical insights, we will also gain additional confidence in the healing process.

6. Journaling Reinforces Lessons. It's fairly intuitive to think that writing something down helps you remember it. Happily, studies now prove that journaling has many positive effects on your mental health and functioning, including improved memory. Thus, journaling is a wonderful tool for reinforcing your healing journey, documenting your progress.


Helpful Prompts for Healing and Reflection

The great thing about journaling is that you can do whatever you like, write and organize it any way you like. Write a journal on any subject you like. That said, to help you on days when you aren't sure what to journal about, here are some useful prompts:
  • How do I feel overall?
  • Why was I triggered by _________?
  • What/who do I need to forgive today?
  • What am I most grateful for today?
  • What are five things/activities/people that bring me joy?
  • What negative thing about myself can I release today?
  • What questions/issues/people are floating around my mind?
  • What attitudes and behaviors are no longer serving me?
  • What am I holding onto -- and what can I let go?
  • What changes might I have to make in my life?
  • What changes might I have to make in my digital life?
  • What makes me happy -- and what things do I want to avoid?
  • What kind of person do I want to be?
  • What kind of relationships do I want?
  • What has been the best part of my healing journey?
  • How will I make these healing changes a reality in my life?


Final Thoughts on Journaling for Healing

If a full-on journal seems a bit overwhelming to you at the moment, but you are still interested in trying journaling, you might consider creating a gratitude journal. These types of journals are extremely helpful for those times when we feel nothing is going our way.

Ready to begin journaling? Just start doing it! You don't need a structure or the perfect container; all you need to do is start writing/recording. Then make it part of your routine -- whether morning, midday, evening, whenever. Keep the process is simple (otherwise you may stop doing it) and keep your expectations low (but your hope high).

Finally, once you get to a certain point on your healing journey, your journal can become a critical tool in your integration -- and even for sharing with a coach/therapist or with people in your community of supporters/friends.


Additional Journaling Resources


EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is an educator, author, and advocate, as well as founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com. Dr. Hansen's latest book, Triumph Over Trauma, is available in paperback and ebook versions. Dr. Hansen has been helping empower people to achieving success his entire adult life. He is also founder of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, teaching business and marketing at the college level for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.


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