Can Journaling Lead to Positive Change
Written by WinGate Therapy, in Section Featured Articles
Journaling as we know it today is a powerful tool for positive transformation that can help young people and adults alike. The idea of journaling has a long history: It first emerged in the 10th century in Japan. In the centuries since, many famous people have kept journals.
But: You do not need to be a president or playwright to benefit from journaling.
In fact, teens and adolescents who want to adopt healthier mental habits and become emotionally resilient can obtain clear benefits from journaling. People of all ages suffering from conditions like ADHD and depression have had personal breakthroughs using journaling.
The American Psychological Association reports that writing in a journal has powerful effects on those who undertake it. Research has shown it may strengthen immune response and could improve the mind’s ability to process distressing events.
Studies have also demonstrated that journaling can reduce stress and clear the mind, with one major study indicating that high school students were better able to resist negative thinking about their body image after writing down their thoughts.
This is just one of the ways in which journaling can help young people grow.
Journaling Helps Young People Adapt as Life Changes
Adolescents and teens face two overarching life challenges that journaling is useful for:
They See Things That Challenge Their Worldview
Life is full of change, and some of that change is painful.
As children develop into young adults, they will see more and more things that require them to re-assess their old beliefs. At the same time, they will have to face more challenges principally on their own. This can create powerful emotions that may be difficult to cope with.
They Define Who They Wish to Become as Adults
As young people think about the future, they start to consider who they wish to be. Moving toward those goals means confronting frustration and failure head-on. At an early age, failing to meet one’s own expectations can have a huge effect on self-esteem.
Why is Journaling So Helpful for Kids and Teens in Crisis?
Journaling serves to help people – particularly young people – achieve better self-regulation of their emotions. Self-regulation is a general term for a person’s ability to put emotions in context and manage them in healthy, harmonious ways.
Looking at the positive aspects of a negative experience is one form of emotional self-regulation. Another is reflecting on the fact that even the most profound negative experiences will pass. These thoughts may seem sensible, but during hardship or mourning, they take effort.
Journaling provides young people with “practice” using healthy thoughts to cope.
For people of any age, emotions are easier to deal with when we can put a name to them. Young people often feel upset, angry, or disturbed for reasons they can’t quite put words to. Once they write about their feelings, however, the true cause often comes into focus.
The self-reflection this leads to is another important skill for mental health as an adult.
In wilderness therapy, adolescents and teens have the opportunity to go one step further.
They may, if they choose, share parts of their written self-reflection with peers in a group setting that is structured to be truly non-judgmental. By doing so, they soon learn that other young people go through similar experiences and that they are not alone.
Knowing that others will support them, not be harsh with them, is often a beautiful moment for young people dealing with painful struggles. And it’s only one of many that wilderness therapy has to offer.
To find out more, just contact WinGate Wilderness Therapy today.