Journaling for Health
As a teenager, you may have kept a diary as an outlet for your innermost thoughts and emotions. It may have helped clear your mind, process the day’s events, and capture memorable experiences. In adulthood, you can still benefit from journalling: it is a simple and effective tool for promoting mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Journalling is the simple practice of writing down your thoughts and feelings without judgement, a way of outwardly expressing internalised mental and emotional processes. This practice has been shown to benefit mental health conditions such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress and depression. Even physical health issues such as pain can be improved through the use of Positive Affect Journalling (PAJ).
A few tips on journalling:
- Take time each day to write, even if it is only for a few minutes, until it becomes a habit. It’s a good idea to have a pen and notepad handy by your bed or other convenient places, so that when the urge comes to write, you can easily access them.
- Write freely and allow your thoughts and feelings to flow without concern about spelling or grammar. Remember that you are not being graded!
- Express yourself in the way that feels most comfortable to you, such as drawing pictures to represent thoughts and emotions.
- Refrain from over analysing your journal entries. This practice is not meant to diagnose problems, but instead, provide an outlet for internalised thoughts and feelings. You may choose to share parts of your journal with trusted friends or family, but this is not required to gain the benefits of journalling.
If you have never journalled before, the practice may feel strange at first, but remember that this is perfectly natural in the beginning. Stick with it, and with time, you will begin to experience the profound benefits of expressive writing to your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Journalling for Children
Children can be taught since early childhood to express themselves in various ways, and one of these is journalling. It can be used to express emotions and thoughts, as well as to acquire some important social skills, for instance, expressing gratitude. Communication begins early when a child starts to hear, see and interpret their surroundings. Once verbal communication starts, expression becomes more complex.
How can journalling benefit your child?
- Learning to express and regulate emotions
- Understanding their own needs
- Applying critical thinking, improving awareness and perception
- Reducing anxiety that they may face before important, unexpected or daunting situations
- Improving their creative skills, since they have a blank page to write or draw whatever comes to mind
- Improving their writing skills, specifically their vocabulary, grammar and complexity of sentences
- Supporting social skills by learning about the concept of safe spaces and non-judgement
- Improving their self-discipline and concentration
With young children, it may be necessary to guide their journalling at first. For example, pose questions such as “what three things are you most grateful for today?”, “what do you enjoy doing and why?” and “what is the best thing that happened to you today?”.
If your child begins to choose their own topic or interests, be supportive and allow them to write and draw freely. It is important to provide them with various materials to support their creativity, such as colourful markers and stickers.
Through continued journalling, you will see your child flourish both at home and at school. They will hopefully draw happiness from the experience, as well as confidence and overall wellbeing.
Dr. Jason Culp - Research & Development Director, Chiva-Som
For the past decade, Dr. Culp has held the position of senior naturopathic physician at Chiva-Som in Hua Hin, where he conducts natural wellness consultations with guests. In addition to his role as naturopath, he is the founder and director of the Research & Development department, with the primary objective of evaluating and exploring the use of evidence-based natural therapies in a holistic wellness setting.
Joelle Alkhoury - Family & Child Specialist, Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som
As one of the founding team members of Zulal Wellness Resort, Joelle leads our family wellness programme at Zulal Discovery, bringing with her years of experience in social work, psychology and education. Prior to her time with us, she held the post of Women’s Protection & Empowerment Manager at the International Rescue Committee in Lebanon, generating groundbreaking research on child and youth services. With a master’s degree in clinical psychology, and fluent in English, Arabic and French, Joelle guides our guests through their family wellness journeys utilising counselling, psychosocial support and parenting activities.