Hands holding notebook and pen, writing on public transporation.

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JOURNALING: How & Why to Try a Feelings Journal (Part 5)

· Article

JOURNALING: How & Why to Try a Feelings Journal (P

How Bridget Jones’s Diary can help you.


You remember Bridget Jones novels and movies, right? A single, lonely British woman tries to improve herself by writing in her diary. There’s merit in what she did. Brain scans show writing helps the brain regulate emotions, thus making you feel better. Scientists dub this the “Bridget Jones Affect.” Journaling about your feelings may help you better connect with all the thoughts inside your head and heart.


“Through the course of the day the average person has countless thoughts, experiences, emotions and numerous intentions. In the mind, these can be quickly processed and set aside for later action, and frequently forgotten,” says Judi Cinéas, a psychotherapist and author of Attitude Adjustment: Keys to Living Life on your Terms. When you journal how you feel—regretful, remorseful, elated, or nostalgic, for instance—you can examine the feelings more, and assess causes and solutions.


Maybe you’re feeling remorseful for the way an argument played out with a family member, or nostalgic for a time in your life when you were more content. Writing about these feelings can open up a wider understanding of why you may feel this way, and what you can do about it. For example, would you feel better if you apologized to the family member? Should you join a spinning class again because it made you feel so good when you used to do it?


What Should You Write?


It varies, and there’s no wrong way. Some journal to be more mindful about their daily feelings. Others write about the reasons behind their feelings and what they can do about them. To journal about how you feel, you might consider the following:


  • Start with an intro line of “Today I felt … “
  • How do you feel about what’s going on in your life?
  • Write stream of consciousness style without editing your thoughts or grammar to see what feelings come to the surface.
  • Write down achievements and failures — how do you feel about them?
  • Note any big questions you have about life, then write down how you feel about the answers


How Can Journaling Show You How You Feel?


Journaling about your feelings can help you see patterns in thoughts and behaviors. If you’re always writing about money trouble, you might realize you’re anxious about your financial situation. Constantly journaling about work-related stress may help reveal that your depression is linked to your job.


Even if you think your experiences are dull, writing them down unearths a cache of other thoughts, ideas, and memories that clue you in to how you’re feeling, and why.


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