Journaling is a great tool to facilitate your anxiety treatment and depression treatment. Remember writing in your diary as a kid and feeling like all your stress from the day was pushed into one book? We can’t promise that exact feeling, but we can say that many of our clients have experienced tremendous success with journaling. This guide will give you some tips and pointers for journaling during therapy so you can make the most of the process.
Use Your Journal in Therapy
Your journal can become a part of your therapy sessions. Bring it with you, and jot down any key points you address during the therapy session. If there is a journal entry from the previous week that you would like to discuss, bookmark it and go over it with your therapist. You can also create a section for questions you may have, and then you can easily reference them when you see your counselor.
Write down Your Thoughts, Not Just Events
In therapy, one of the benefits of having a journal is that you can see your thought patterns in action. Depression and anxiety are often the result of distorted thinking. You may overanalyze a situation or jump to conclusions without knowing the full story. During therapy, your therapist will help you identify these thought processes so you can correct them in the future. Having a journal to look back on will reassure you of your progress and help you recognize mistakes from the past.
As you journal, write down your train of thought along with the events that occurred. What went on in your mind before a panic attack? What did you interpret from a situation that caused you to get upset? Having a record of your thoughts is as important, if not more important, than having a record of the events.
Journal Even When It Seems “Boring”
You’re not writing a best-selling novel here. You’re creating a record of your life. Don’t worry about telling a boring story or explaining a thought process that others may not relate to. If it mattered to you, it matters. Your journal is a tool for you and you alone.
Write by Hand When Possible
If you can keep a handwritten journal, that is ideal. Typing on a phone or computer may be convenient in the moment, but that takes away from some of the effectiveness of journaling. When you physically write out your thoughts and feelings, you become more invested in them. It’s the same effect as paying cash for an item instead of using a credit card. You get the item either way, but you recognize the value when you hand over cash.
Make Notes on Previous Journal Entries
Once you’ve had your journal for a while, go back and look at some of your old posts. Use a red pen and make notes, just like you would for a textbook. You will quickly see how much you’ve grown in therapy, and you will find closure for past issues. This, along with the other techniques in your therapy sessions, will help you work through your anxiety or depression day by day.