5 Helpful Ways Journaling Can Ease Your Feelings of Burnout

By Dominica

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Last Updated: April 11, 2022

Does the word, 'journaling,' make you scrunch up your nose?

Does it elicit images of a teenager frantically scribbling in their Dear Diary? If so, is that such a bad thing? After all, for those of us who did scrawl all over our notebooks and hide them away, we may have been onto something.

Many people kept a diary as a teenager, hiding it in a special secret place so no one could read it. That's because they were also totally honest about what they were writing. No edits, no worries about it being posted on Instagram for the world to see and like (or not like.).

Turns out, writing freely and privately can really help people deal with life’s struggles, well beyond being an awkward teen trying to fit in with peers and find their place in life.

In a time where more and more people are feeling burned out, the simple act of writing down your thoughts can actually help you mentally. And most of us can use all the help we can get! 

 

Are You Struggling With Burnout?

Maybe we don’t use the term 'diaries' as adults, but plenty of people are finding the benefits to jotting down what’s going on inside their minds.

We live in a day and age where life can get super busy. Physically, we run from here to there trying to get a hundred things done in one day. Mentally, we’re just as busy, churning thought after thought like 1,000 hamsters on a wheel.

And COVID didn't help. In fact, a study by meQuilibrium, a company that works on developing resilient organizations, found that, of the 5,474 members they checked in on throughout December 2020 to July 2021, 

"Burnout increased among those under 30 years of age at nearly 3X the rate noted among older employees...Job stress was up nearly 20% among younger employees but was flat among older employees."

We are exhausted.

More and more people complain of not being able to fall asleep at night, can’t sit still during the day, and too tired to fully be present for loved ones. So, how do you know if you're burned out? 

6 Signs That You Are Burned Out

  1. Lack of or loss of motivation
  2. Your outlook has become more negative or cynical 
  3. You struggle more with self-doubt and even feeling like a failure
  4. Feeling like you're alone in the world, and more detached in general
  5. It's harder to feel satisfied or accomplished with things you normally would have
  6. Loss of control, feeling trapped, defeated or even helpless to change things 

If any or all of these behaviors sound like you, you may want to look into burnout, talk to family and friends, and potentially talk to your doctor or therapist. Starting to journal can also help, in large part because it forces you to stop, collect your thoughts and record them mindfully. This has a therapeutic effect. 

 

Can Journaling Help With Burnout?

If you’re struggling mentally, there are certainly things you can do to feel better. 

Mindfulness and meditation are working wonders for millions of people. Taking time daily to just go inside and enjoy quiet is therapeutic. The hardest part is actually making yourself stop long enough to do it.

Some may head to see a counselor to sort things out in their mind. That’s helpful too.

Journaling is simply another practical tool to help when you’re mentally exhausted and burned out. It's not complicated, journaling just means writing down your thoughts regularly.

Now, you may not be much of a writer. That’s alright. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to journaling. You simply write what you want, when you want. The point of journaling is to help yourself purge thoughts from your head and get them on paper.

You don't have to share what you write with anyone. Knowing this can also be very freeing, because you can write with abandon, not feeling the need to edit or consider how anyone else will take your words. 

Journaling can help you get those thoughts that have been swirling in your head onto paper. This can help you feel better mentally. You simply start writing them down, knowing that these are your thoughts, and no one else will be reading them.

To help you get started, here are some helpful tips and benefits of journaling.

 

 

How to Start Journaling For Mental Health

Write Regularly

You can write in your journal every day, but you don’t have to. If you just want to write several times a week, that’s fine too. Write when you feel like it. You can use a pen and physical journal, or type on your computer or tablet. Do what works for you.

It might help to set aside time to write. Maybe just before you go to bed or while you’re having your coffee in the morning. Try to write where it’s quiet and you can sit comfortably. Developing a habit of journaling can help you find focus faster, and you may start looking forward to that time in your day.

What To Write In A Journal

You can write anything you want. Some people write about how their days go, sort of like you would write in a diary. Others write about how they’re feeling about themselves and others. Some draw pictures to express how they're feeling. This is personal to you! 

You can also jot down your short and long-term goals, affirmations, poetry, prayers, and more. The key is to just start writing and see where it leads you.

You may find yourself just writing for a few minutes in the beginning.  As you continue journaling regularly, the entries may grow longer. You may even notice that your thought patterns are changing from negative to more positive.

Need some help getting started? 40 Inspiring Journal Prompts to Guide Your Deep & Personal Journey

 

5 Benefits of Journaling

1. Journaling reduces stress.

Research indicates that regular journaling reduces anxiety and stress. When you sit down and write, you’re in the present moment. You’re going within to hear what’s going on in your mind, then releasing pent-up feelings on paper. This is therapeutic, reducing anxiety that’s been building in your energetic system.

It can also provide a way to escape from negative feelings or thoughts, giving something of an emotional release from what's been weighing you down. 

2. You can track your changes as they happen.

At the end of each week, re-read that week’s posts. Do you see a change in your thoughts and/or emotions?  What keeps popping up over and over? Do you notice any triggers that are causing you to impulsively react to others?

You’ll be able to get to know yourself better as you track your life. You’ll get to know who pushes your buttons most, what situations you should avoid, what you want to do more of, and so on.

3. You have a chance to set goals more regularly.

At the beginning of each week, set new goals for the coming week. Maybe you want to get out and exercise more. Or perhaps you’d like to meet with friends regularly. Setting new goals is therapeutic and journaling will help keep you accountable.

4. Journaling might help you get more sleep.

People who make a habit of writing in their journal before they go to bed can get every swirling thought, worry or fear out on the paper, clearing their head for the evening. This could definitely help you drift off to sleep faster, and when you are getting enough sleep, your body can get the proper rest it needs, leading you to feel more refreshed in body, mind and spirit. 

Some people also keep their journals beside their beds, so if they wake up in the middle of the night, or still can't get to sleep once they turn the lights off. They can simply roll over, record the thought, worry or idea, and get some shuteye.

5. Journaling can help you find solutions.

Because you're finding a quiet moment to sit with your thoughts and feelings, you have an opportunity to reflect on the problems and issues that are popping up for you. Over time, you can even go back and look at how you resolved them, or you can see patterns reveal themselves if you keep facing the same issues time after time. 

 

Make Journaling a Lifelong Practice

Just think about reading your journals years down the road and seeing how your life unfolded.  When you make journaling a lifelong practice, you’ll not only feel better mentally, you’ll have created keepsakes that you will cherish down the road.

Start journaling today. Before long, you’ll look forward to penning your thoughts, knowing that you’re practicing self-care for your mind and body.

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

Editor's note: this article was originally published November 13, 2020 and has been updated with new information. 

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6 comments on “5 Helpful Ways Journaling Can Ease Your Feelings of Burnout”

  1. Journalling
    I jused to write daily but now for the last app. 2 years I stopped since I coulden't sit down and I hope to get started again and know it makes we focused on positive, happy and funny stuff. Rather than bottle up all the stressfull things through this crazy Corona ride!

  2. Reference
    Being in the present moment important for clarity and self care clearing the emotion and replenishing strength and perspective progression and flow positively

  3. Reference
    Being in the present moment important for clarity and self care clearing the emotion and replenishing strength and perspective progression and flow positively

  4. Life in coronatimes
    Even my life didnot change much but outside and The opportunities change a lot. So the Daily life became monoton and dull and it is about making good and eating.

  5. Attitudes of a counselor
    Living among the marginalized and their limited recreation drives to consume excess of alcohol. Suggest to ease their stress.

  6. Good Finding and Journaling
    When I first acquired m first "real" laptop-- an HP OmniBook 600C, wherever I went, it came along with me. people called that my little baby. I Journaled in that every night for well over 3 years. People started seeing changes in me-- as I became a joy to be around. Friends and coworkers said that I evolved and started seeing the good in things and complaining less.

    As today is the 12th day of the year, I intend to make journaling my continual new habit. It's time people see the new me that's really the old me that has otherwise got sucked into negativity-- an old gem needing shining!!!

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