Journaling: Using Creativity In The Healing Process For Mental Health and Spiritual Growth
Journaling is a form of expressive writing where you write to creatively express your feelings and emotions onto paper. Research studies indicate that expressive writing is instrumental in the recovery process for people experiencing mental health issues because it enhances an understanding of their emotions and self-identity (Haertl, et. al). Journaling specifically becomes therapeutic because you are in a private space, coming in contact with your emotions and experiences, to release intense emotions from suppressing your body and mind (“Foy”). This article will focus on how applying your creativity when journaling through self-expression, self-awareness, and self-reflection heals and motivates you to pursue happiness.
Applying the Healing Process Through Self-Expression
Writing can improve your mental health by allowing you to interpret your emotions through words and images, helping you creatively to connect with your thoughts (Thatcher). According to FHE Health, we write by simultaneously accessing our left brain for rational and analytical thinking and our right brain for emotional and intuitive thinking, which helps to enable our creativity in the healing process (Foy). Creativity and the interaction between your cognition, thoughts, and emotions produces self-expression when journaling. How you express yourself in your writing is up to you. There is no right or wrong way for you to be creative when journaling because it’s centered around your thoughts and emotions. According to the clinician Kim Nyugen at Diversus Health, creativity helps to reduce levels of stress, anxiety, anger, shame, and depression from traumatic events (“The Mental Health Benefits of Creativity”). This means creativity when journaling helps you embrace the inner you.
Gaining Self-Awareness to Transform Pain
Embracing the inner you through your writing can be a key step towards self-awareness. Self-awareness is needed to help you develop emotional intelligence, maturity, and understanding towards your emotions and other people’s emotions (Pratt). In learning this, journaling promotes self-awareness because you are revealing and reflecting on your emotions through expressive writing.
The Love Story believes that words expressed come from a deeper part of your subconscious and this subconscious is the key to reflecting upon truths. This part of your subconscious, called your inner child, picks up messages before being able to mentally and emotionally process past events, holding both past beliefs, memories and emotion and future hopes and dreams (Goldstein).
Reflecting on past and present traumatic events is a vital part of journaling because you can be honest with your emotions without interference from overwhelming judgment and feelings of grief and heartbreak (Foy). Practicing creativity through journaling over time will aid in detoxing these painful emotions from your mind, heart, soul, and body (“The Mental Health Benefits of Creativity”). In other words, creative and expressive writing can provide a sense of validation and self-awareness, empowering you, the writer, to reverse your pain.
Moving Towards the Path of Happiness Through Journaling
The practice of expressive writing has been on the rise due to current tragic events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, a widespread of natural disasters, and hate crimes (“The Mental Health Benefits of Creativity”). That is because there is a correlation between journaling and improving a person’s well-being by:
- helping them shift from self-destruction to boosting self-esteem,
- focusing on future goals, and
- gaining happiness (Fieldman).
When you engage in the creative aspect of journaling and embrace self-expression, your pain transforms to happiness because intense emotions can stimulate a part of your brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which activates motivational thoughts (“How to Turn Your Pain Into Power Through Creativity”). Now you, the creator of your words, have the power to reverse your pain and freedom to choose happiness.
In pursuit of happiness, you bond and listen to your inner child’s story and learn about the hopes and dreams that need to be fulfilled (Goldstein). When journaling, you are reparenting in the inner child work process to heal past wounds, develop compassion for your well-being, and open a path for future desires and endeavors (“Learning to Reparent Your Inner Child”). From this perspective, you are establishing the ability of creative self-expression to access your inner child’s wounds, learn why you experienced those traumatic events, and learn how you can grow from it.
According to Professor of Psychology, Gail Matthews, people who journal what their goals and desires are, are more likely to achieve them by becoming more focused and productive (“Journaling for Increased Productivity and Happiness”). To conclude from these studies, the practice of creativity when journaling heals your mental health by motivating you to discover who you are, your desires, your passion, and your spiritual growth in the process.
Fieldman, David B. “The Power of Journaling” Psychology Today, 20 Sept 2020. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/supersurvivors/202009/the-power-journaling
Foy, Chris “How Journaling Promotes Healing From Trauma” FHE Health, 09 Jun 2021.
Goldstein, Esther. “What Is An Inner Child And What Does It Know?” Integrative Psychotherapy https://integrativepsych.co/new-blog/what-is-an-inner-child. Accessed 31 May 2022
Haertl, Kristine & Ero-Phillips, Adrienne. (2017). The healing properties of writing for persons with mental health conditions. Arts & Health. 11. 1-12. 10.1080/17533015.2017.1413400.
Pratt, Lindsey. “The Importance of Self-Awareness” Psychotherapy Practice – Intuitive Healing – NYC, 02 May 2021
Thatcher, Christina. “Writing Can Improve Mental Health-Here’s How” The Conversation, 17 Jun 2021.
“Learning to Reparent Your Inner Child” Hope + Wellness. 30 Jul 2020.
“How to Turn Your Pain Into Power Through Creativity” Amen Clinics, 05 Aug 2021.
“The Mental Health Benefits of Creativity” Diversus Health, https://diversushealth.org/the-mental-health-benefits-of-creativity/, Accessed 23 May 2022.