The Benefits Of Keeping A Mental Health Journal

benefits of journaling

The benefits of journaling can be tremendous for anyone looking to improve their mental health.

I have said it before and I will say it again…Unfortunately motivation is a fleeing feeling.

Maybe you have been doing all the right things to take care of your health.

You have been eating healthy, sleeping well and even exercising and yet for some reason you are still not feeling up to par.

Perhaps you feel better some days but the bad days are still frequent enough to discourage your efforts.

Your motivation is weaning and part of you just wants to throw in the towel and take the easy way out.

This is a great time to pull out your journal.

By recording all of your progress in a journal, you can reflect on the changes you have made.  Many times you may not notice them on a day to day basis, however, when compared to a few months ago the change may be dramatic.

On the other hand, if you are anything like me, it can be easy to start slacking on your healthy lifestyle habits once you begin to feel better.

All of a sudden you may find yourself staying up later again, putting less effort into your diet, increasing alcohol consumption and so on.

In this instance, by reviewing your journal hopefully you can realize the torment you escaped and realize what waits for you on the other side of laziness.

Regularly update your journal to remind yourself of the good times and the bad and the benefits of journaling could change your life!


Benefits Of Journaling And How To Keep One

Keeping a journal is both cheap and effortless.

A notepad can be bought for roughly a dollar or a simple word document can suffice.

I personally like to write in my own journal quickly upon waking and once again right before bed.

Record your efforts, successes, failures and so on however you prefer.  There really is no minimum or maximum input.

With that being said, there are a few key areas I recommend you take note of in order to maximize your personal development.


#1 Track Your Diet

In my journal I like to write down what I eat and drink on a daily basis.

This includes fast food, vegetables, water consumption and even coffee.

Through doing this I have come to the realization that fast food makes me tired, coffee increases my anxiety and staying hydrated just helps me feel better all across the board.

Upon reviewing my journal, I have a detailed account of how I felt based upon what I consumed on any given day.

In doing this yourself you will start to see patterns emerge over time.

If it wasn’t for utilizing this method I may still be oblivious to the fact that I have a gluten intolerance.  After removing gluten from my diet the chronic fatigue I faced slightly eased up.  Thankfully I had all of this documented beyond a reasonable doubt.

Keeping track of your diet is also excellent for achieving fitness goals.

If fitness is a priority of yours, make note of your weight roughly once a week,

Knowing your weight and how much it took to gain or lose weight will aid your efforts further as you go along.


#2 Track Your Sleep

I personally I like to write down what time I went to bed and what time I woke up.  I also generally like to make a note of how well I slept.

Fatigue can wreak havoc on your mental health.  A lethargic mind cannot possibly stack up against one which is both refreshed and energized,

By taking notes of your intake of caffeine, supplements, alcohol and so on, you will notice certain things lower your sleep quality and some will improve it.

Using this process of elimination is one of the key benefits of journaling.

Eliminate what hinders and continue what helps.

Once your sleep improves, your mental health will improve in tandem.

Through my own notes I have noticed how much more rested and productive I am on nights I go to bed before 11 P.M.

When I go to bed later I am tampering with my bodies internal clock and offsetting my circadian rhythm.

My journal acts as evidence to this fact and a reminder I often need in order to actually hold myself accountable.  When I ignore my clear warning signs I feel it physically and, consequently, emotionally.


#3 Track Your Supplements

In your mental health journal I highly recommend tracking any supplements you may be taking.

In a world filled with so many supplements designed to do nothing but steal your money it is important to note if you actually feel any benefit from what you purchased.

Usually when you take a supplement it is for a desired effect. I highly recommend evaluating if it is doing its job over time.

If you can see patterns of effectiveness, the supplement may be worth a second purchase.  If no effect is noticed, it is probably ineffective.

This method can save you a lot of money over the long term.

Use it to take a minimalistic approach to supplementation and stick to what works.


#4 Track Your Alcohol Consumption

No matter how many drinks you had on a given day, make a note of it.

Make note of how the alcohol affected your sleep and how you felt the next day.

How was your mood, energy, motivation, or anxiety?

I have personally learned the hard way that alcohol does not agree with my genetics.

Having a decent social life it is hard to avoid.  Sometimes I need a reminder that it isn’t worth it and my mental health journal is there to do just that.


#5 Track Your Exercise

How does exercise make you feel?  Does it help your anxiety?  Do you get a runners high?

Does exercising for too long make you feel fatigued?

Do you have an exercise that seems to work super well for your fitness goals?

Make note of it all!

You can further add changes in body composition.  How much weight have you lost or gained?

Are you excited with your results?

If yes then great!  If not hopefully it will motivate you to push even harder.

Through tracking exercise in my mental health journal I was also able to identify that exercising too much would exaggerate my chronic fatigue.  However, in moderation, exercise improved my sleep and mood dramatically.

When living with mental health issues there is often a thin line and keeping track helps to identify what side of the line you need to be on.


#6 Extra Notes

I recommend including a general section for anything unexpected.

Maybe you had a really hard day at work or an exhausting argument with your partner.

If there was anything that brought you down or cheered you up I would be sure to make a note of it.

How was your anxiety level and mood on the given day?  Reviewing your notes is there anything that stands out?


Putting It All Together

I have thrown together what a sample day might look like for myself.

It is nothing fancy and it doesn’t take long to do.


Morning Entry:

  • Went to bed at 11 PM last night and woke up 730 AM. Slept well right through until my alarm.
  • Started the day with a cold shower which woke me up nicely
  • Breakfast included my usual smoothie consisting of protein powder, spinach, eggs, almond milk, a banana, and some blueberries.  Drank 500ml of water after
  • Supplemented with shilajit, 1 gram cordyceps,  5000iu Vitamin D

Notes:  Nothing Unusual

Evening Entry:

  • Had Mcdonalds for lunch and my energy crashed for a few hours as a result
  • Dinner consisted of chicken, rice, carrots and cucumber
  • Had roughly 2L of water with lemon throughout the day
  • Went to the gym around 6 PM and had a good workout.  Gained 1lb this week
  • 5mg melatonin, 400mg magnesium, 1 gram of reishi before bed.  It feels as though reishi has improved my sleep this last week

Notes:  Was a relaxed day at work.  The evening was spent at the gym and with my girlfriend.  Anxiety was minimal today.


In Conclusion

A mental health journal can be one of the most helpful tools there is for your recovery.

Through self reflection and elimination you can begin to recognize the things that are impacting your life for the better or for worse.

Take five minutes out of your day and start one day!




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About the Author

Sharing my past experiences battling anxiety, fatigue and depression in hopes that I can help you with your own personal struggles.

Leave a Reply 6 comments

Sonny Decker - 08/04/2017 Reply

Awesome advice! I find when I keep track of my workouts, diet, sleep patterns, and yes, feelings (don’t be afraid of your feelings!), I feel much more in control. It helps when you look back and find underlying trends to your behavior, as this is one of the first steps to make positive changes. I was actually encouraged to start taking notes on everything by the great Henry Rollins, who himself is a prolific note-taker. It’s almost like keeping a historical record… of your own life! We all know how important the lessons of history are, because if we forget, we are doomed to make the same mistakes again! Nice write-up Regan!

    Regan - 11/04/2017 Reply

    Hey Sonny, thanks for the input! It really can make a huge difference. Like your own personal records like you said

Brandon - 03/05/2017 Reply

I’ve begun seeing the benefits of journaling as soon as I finally listened to my girlfriend and started keeping one. Now, a daily journal is a must for me!

I have also started using CRON-O-METER and I love it! I’ve learned a lot about myself and especially about my eating habits in the last several months. I’ve started learning about what I should actually be eating and I am much more aware of how little I need to be full and cover my Daily Recommended carb, fat and protein levels. Before starting tracking with this tool I was probably eating 4000+ daily calories although I only need around 2000-2200 most days (depending on the level of work and exercise I do that day) so it’s no wonder I was getting fatter!

Regan - 10/05/2017 Reply

Hey Brandon, thanks for the input! One day you will thank your girlfriend!

I’ll have to check out Cron-O-Meter, it sounds similar to my fitness pal which I have used in the past.

Michael Socarras - 11/07/2017 Reply

Great post. I write about everything except these things. Thanks for the post. I too have suffered for many years and still do. My savior has been music and the guitar. Ive written some articles on depression and mental health and will share with the world very soon. In favt they are already done.

I then changed my direction in writing but this topic always hits home with me. Journaling im sure will help me and others thank you for sharing.

    Regan - 11/07/2017 Reply

    Thanks, Michael.

    Journaling is an incredible resource. The reflection it can provide is priceless.

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