I have been going through a really tough time with a significant other for about two months now. This relationship has really tested my sanity. I’ve felt giddy, sad, aroused, angry, resentful, and even confused all from this one partner. My experience in this relationship contained enough emotional high energy frequency to trigger a dissociative disorder. If it wasn’t for me finally picking up my journal a couple days ago to release some of that energy, I think I would be in a mental institution by now.
Funny thing is, throughout this drama, my inner mental health angel has been screaming at me to pick up a pen and write. Before this relationship took place, I had been consistently journaling one to two times a week thanks to COVID allowing for some much-needed free time. But, once this relationship got a hold of me, I ghosted my journal for 2 months. If there were ever a time to clear my blood of its toxins through written regurgitation, those two months would have been the most appropriate. Yet, I didn’t. Why?
Truth is, it’s hard to write. The physical, mental, and emotional aspects of writing can be taxing. It’s physically taxing because if I have something heavy on my heart—like a manipulative a** dude—I can write for hours (bring on the carpal tunnel!). It’s mentally taxing because if you aren’t very good with written expression, it can feel like a whole brain workout trying to think of words to say. And emotionally speaking, who wants to “be present” in a moment that is painful or traumatic? I have journal entries with ink smears and smudges from my incessant crying.
But wait, isn’t this blog post about the benefits of journaling? Yes. I was just about to get to that! Even though there may be some resistance to journaling, the benefits far outweigh any negatives. Here’s why:
Journaling frees up mental space and declutters your mind.
I get very anxious when I don’t get these thoughts and concerns out of my head. Sometimes I believe that if I don’t ruminate on a subject for hours or days on end, the problem won’t get solved as quickly as I’d like. Truth is though, my brain isn’t suited to keep a whole business plan in my head. When I write my thoughts down, it gives me space to explore and work out my feelings. It also allows room for positive and uplifting thoughts to enter after I have released the negative.
It can set the stage for healing.
Those familiar with the stages of grief know that each stage comes with a whirlwind of emotions. It’s not healthy to get stuck on a particular stage, other than acceptance. Journaling can act as a conduit for free-flowing emotions so that you’re able to heal properly and in a timely fashion.
Journaling improves your emotional intelligence.
How do you develop emotional intelligence within yourself? One way is by being mindful of your own emotions. Associating words to your emotions can be a powerful tool to spot difficult and destructive emotions when they come up. Once you identify your problem, it is much easier to work towards a solution. Also, for the ones that are constantly at a loss for words: the more you practice using words, the better you get.
Journaling is a cheap form of therapy.
If you can’t pay a therapist to listen to you, pick up a journal. It’s always available, non-judgmental, and an open book to receive your emotions.
You can have a journal for just about anything!
I’m currently sporting three journals. One general journal is for anything that causes me anxiety or stress. Another is to document my health through my fitness journey. The final one is to track my professional development as I navigate through my career. Each journal has been vital to my development into a physically, mentally, and emotionally complete adult.
For all of these reasons and more, when I started journaling about my experience with this dude, I felt like I was going through a spiritual reboot. I’ve been feeling lighter, clearer, happier, more motivated and in control. Don’t get me wrong, I still have some issues to work out that will need the assistance of a licensed mental health professional. However, I know I don’t have to be frozen in my anxiety and sorrow until I can get to a therapist. Journaling keeps me moving and available to tackle life’s problems head on each and every day.
Faith is a proud native of Los Angeles, CA—although she does feel like the 405 has gotten out of hand. She graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in psychobiology and a varsity letter for track and field. She currently works as a Sales Rep for a medical device company. She also side-hustles as a personal trainer and is actively taking on new clients. Faith is an avid student of the mental and physical health arts. She believes that mental health and physical health are intricately intertwined, and that in order to live a fulfilling life, one should take care to nurse both aspects concurrently. Her other interests include hiking, camping, beach days (basically anything that has her outdoors basking in the sun), yoga, podcasts, and her dog. She currently serves as chair of the Divine Wellness committee at TRKBG. You can follow her outdoor adventures on her Instagram @faith_anumba and/or reach out to her through email at email@example.com for fitness advice and inquiries.