Journaling For Mental Health: Taming The Monkey Mind

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Did you ever keep a diary or journal when you were little?

My first memory of journaling was in grade school.  While attending San Joaquin Elementary, my second grade teacher had us writing our thoughts in a notebook first thing in the morning. For one, I think it gave us the opportunity to creatively explore with words. It also was an exercise on practicing English skills and gain an understanding on writing about our emotions. Learning this skill at a young age gave me the emotional intelligence to continue on a journaling path that has evolved over the years. This simple act may have provoked my curiosity on the idea of becoming a writer. Now, I write to inform and give others information that I so wish I had back in time.

Why should you cultivate a journaling practice?

Journaling can help one find clarity. In this fast paced world we live in, calming that monkey mind is essential to a healthy well being. I relied heavily on my diary during my teens and early 20’s. There were many nights when I had so much going on in my head and if I didn’t write it down on paper, I would never fall asleep. Putting thoughts on paper can be a great way to sort all the chaos that gets stuck up in your brain.

Another reason why you should put thoughts to paper is because keeping a journal provides a tangible way to keep track of spiritual and perhaps mental growth. When I look back at older entries I can objectively see that I was attempting to organize thoughts and work through different situations in my notebook.

Journaling is not only therapeutic, but it can help manifest thoughts into action

Nothing is more powerful than words. Whether it holds negative or positive connotations, the words used in books, movies, shows, etc…. can hold many different meanings depending on the person reading or watching.

So, when you are journaling about the future for instance, make the intention loud and clear. Once you put those words to paper, it can lead to something more than you could ever imagine.

This reminds me of Jim Carey’s story.  In 1985 he wrote himself a $10 million check for “acting services” dated 10 years in the future. Coincidentally, he landed the role of Lloyd in Dumb & Dumber in 1995! Obviously, once you write something down, you need to constantly work towards that dream. Announcing it on paper will not do any good unless you find ways to achieve a goal or plan.

What do I need to get started?

Honestly? Not much! A notepad and writing instrument will do it. You can even type entries on your phone, tablet or computer. Next, you’ll need to maintain some sort of schedule. Will you journal every day/week/month? Keep it simple and easy. Maybe find an accountability partner. The most difficult part is probably finding something to write about.

Here are some thoughtful writing prompts to get you started:

  • Write about gratitude:  In the Five Minute Journal, you write an entry twice a day. It is easy to use and a perfect way to end and start the day. Begin by reading the introduction before even starting to write because it explains the purpose of the daily prompts.  The habit that I formed by writing down what I am grateful for and what my mantra would be for the day was exactly what I needed to feel grounded. Each page is accompanied by a quote or task too!
  • Write about your day:  Talk about a good and bad thing that happened. Then, jot down how you feel accompanied by what could have changed in either situation. When looking at a situation from an outsiders prospective, it enables our mind to think more objectively verse emotion based.
  • Write about your goals: As mentioned above with Jim Carey’s story, making plans and setting goals for the future can be so helpful. The beauty of this practice is that nothing is set in stone. Over time, your goals might change or maybe you’ll need to make a shift- and that is totally OK. This practice enables you to work on developing processes
  • Answer a question: There are many books and calendars that give daily writing prompts. All it takes is a little search on your favorite search engine or book store.


Like anything, this is a process

The top few reasons why journaling is so effective is to:

  1. Relive stress by clearing our chitta vritti (monkey mind)
  2. Learn more about ourselves.
  3. Think of it as a soul searching journey. Set goals and plans for the future.

It has helped me appreciate what I have and taught me that when times get tough, I can still be present with my thoughts and find a way to work through them on my own. By no means am I suggesting this as a cure for your aliments. It is more of a tool to use when feeling stuck. We all know how difficult it can be to get unstuck, so why not try something to help work through the sticky times?! If anything, look back at my Self Care Tips post and get some ideas on how to treat yo’self.






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