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How Journaling Helped Me Overcome Depressive Thoughts

woman's hand with burgundy manicure holding an opened recycled journal

This might sound weird to someone who has never had any troubles going through the day, but not all of us are lucky to experience only positive moments in our routine. Sometimes life looks like a roller-coaster of good and bad days, or emotional landscapes, as talented Bjork named them. 

On days when I feel down, when it seems like nothing is right and there is little to no point in continuing, I remember the littlest things that brought me pleasure once. Sometimes it is an old, cozy TV show like Gilmore Girls or aesthetic movies I've seen a bunch of times, but journaling, surprisingly, works the best.

Today I wanted to share with you five little ways (in my experience) how such a low-key hobby as journaling can literally save you from depressive thoughts, melancholic state, and deep sadness. The type of journaling you'll choose doesn't matter in this case, time and a little bit of concentration is what is needed here.

Do Therapists Recommend Journaling?

But, first, let's take a look at what healthcare specialists say about journaling as one of the self-therapy methods. Many healthcare specialists, from therapists to psychiatrists, are increasingly recommending journaling as a valuable tool for mental and emotional well-being. They recognize the effectiveness of reflective writing in helping patients identify and track moods, anxieties, and triggers. 

Journaling can also be used to monitor progress in therapy, allowing specialists to tailor treatment plans and celebrate milestones. Overall, healthcare professionals view journaling as a powerful, low-cost, and accessible way to support a patient's journey toward better mental health.

woman's hand holding two handmade journals

Can Journaling Substitute Therapy?

Journaling has become a trendy self-help tool, but can it replace therapy altogether? While some academic research suggests that keeping a diary and writing "...helps people simplify and organize fragmented memories..", the answer to this complex answer is a resounding no.  Therapy offers a safe space to explore your thoughts and feelings with a trained professional who can provide guidance, support, and even diagnose underlying conditions.

However, journaling acts as a powerful companion on your mental wellness journey. Here's how:

  • Self-discovery: Putting pen to paper allows you to process emotions, identify recurring patterns, and gain clarity on what's truly bothering you.

  • Stress relief: The simple act of writing has a ginormous calming effect that releases emotion and anxiety.

  • Improved communication: Journaling helps you articulate your thoughts and feelings more clearly, benefiting both your inner dialogue and your interactions with others.

a small box filled with stickers, sweets and stationer for journaling session

How Journaling Saved Me From Depressive Thoughts

1. Writing,  doodling, and sketching a journal freed my brain from negativity...

A low-key, but religious journaling it became my escape hatch from negativity. It wasn't just about expressing myself; the act itself, the pen scratching across the page, the quiet focus, kept my mind occupied and stopped it from spiraling. That's what keeps your brain cells occupied...I guess.

2. Journaling developed creativity and built a positive habit...

Journaling wasn't just a release valve, though. It sparked a hidden creativity. Filling those blank pages with words, sketches, and even doodles, I discovered a wellspring of ideas I never knew existed.  This newfound creativity fueled a positive habit – journaling became a daily ritual, a way to greet the day with a fresh perspective. It even inspired me to take things a step further; I started a blog, sharing my experiences and discoveries with the world.

3. It inspired me to start a blog...

Well, that's not a secret, but I started this paper-related blog just because journaling has inspired me to do so! I thought that maybe someone would find it interesting/inspiring, and, as a result, would try creating something as well.

4. My journaling habit filled my shelves and drawers with beauty... 

Before I knew it, my journaling habit had transformed my living space. Shelves and drawers overflowed with beautiful notebooks, colorful pens, and other stationery. And nothing cures you from negativity as much as beautiful surroundings.

A word of caution here, though: there's a fine line between a cherished collection and hoarding. Remember, the purpose is to find joy in the process, not to be burdened by stationery possessions.

5. It filled my day with purpose...

For people who have never experienced a state of emotional fatigue and depression, this may feel strange. They may even wonder how one can feel so down and unmotivated, that journal is the only thing that fills up a hole...But this is no joke.

So, journaling has become that habit that filled my days with purpose. It gave me a reason to get up, a space to process my emotions, and a platform to explore creativity. It might seem like a small thing, but for someone battling depression, these small things can be the life raft that keeps you afloat. I believe that any positive habit (even the smallest) that stimulates mental activity helps you to keep going.


To tell the truth, writing this blog post was a bit overwhelming to me. Sharing all of these personal experiences makes me feel a bit exposed. Still, I try looking at it as a short-term, very personal, yet positive (for my development) therapy session. Hopefully, someone will stumble upon this article and find it helpful, maybe even trying to implement journaling habits in their daily life. One step at a time, one page after another. Remember,  the sentence a day keeps the doctor away!

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