How to journal your thoughts and feelings


Written by
Helina Bassey


Journaling is a form of expressive writing which allows you to experience a healing impact. The emotional release from writing your thoughts down lowers anxiety levels and stress. Let me tell you my story of how I found journalling as a way to heal.

I’m having that moment, you know the one where a million thoughts are running through your head, yet you cant seem to make sense of all that jumble and get those words out. Do you know that moment?

Before I go any further, I am going to be very open and honest in this article, anyone who follows me on Instagram knows my heart is open and I often share personal thoughts and feelings.. but this time its not a 24 hour time duration insta story.

Growing up, I was often critiqued and my confidence was always up and down. I think by the time I made it to high school that was when you could say my mind started to become busy. I’m sure most of us have had negative thoughts creeping into our heads and shouting in our ears, but what do you do when those voices don’t seem to stop.

Well for me as a teenager the answer was rebellion and self harm. Phew the difficult part is over! As common as these issues are they are still a bit of a taboo subject and often misunderstood. Most often, people have certain ways of dealing with pressure, negative thoughts and experiences and this is one of them. It is not for us to judge, but to try and understand and to say to that person, I am here for you.

I didn’t shout this from the rooftops, it was hidden and only for me. I have since stopped this but the feelings of an outlet for release are still there.

I started journaling 2 years ago. The past 3 years have on a personal level been the most challenging but also the most insightful, heartbreaking and eye opening times of my life. It was after a traumatic personal loss that I decided I had to take control of my thoughts in a positive way .

Writing has given me that sense of comfort, it always helps me to unburden myself and to see all my thoughts clear on paper rather than muddled up in my head. I also love the feeling that when I look back to my journal, I can see my growth, my experiences and my achievements. It takes me back to that specific moment when I can see what I was feeling and what I was thinking.

I have a past but so does everyone. I am not defined by my past but by my actions and decisions in the present. I chose to help myself, journaling has become a part of me and the strong woman I have become.

If you want to also start journaling or start a personal diary, please see my top starter tips below:

How to start journaling:

  1. First things first, and it’s the best part! Go shopping! Buy some stationary (pens and coloured pencils) and a notebook that represents you, it can be the colour, the notebook cover anything that makes you feel calm. Doing this will automatically encourage you to pick up a pen, get creative and start writing.

  2. Light a candle, an incense stick, put your cosiest pyjama on and turn off the tv, remove distractions, set a relaxing scene and environment for yourself to let your mind and thoughts flow.

  3. Use coloured pens and pencils to make your journal more personable, colourful and interesting to you. Using colours such as oranges and yellow have a natural positive impact on the mind.

  4. I always start off writing with these sub-headers, 1. Date, 2. Location, 3. Anxiety (on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being good and 10 being bad), 4. Mood (happy, nervous, sad etc.). You can adapt these to suit yourself, how you feel and what you are journalling about.

  5. Be creative, in my journal I have pages dedicated to more than what I did in the day or my feelings. I have a ‘things I love myself about myself page’, a doodle page, quotes, poetry and drawings. This helps relieve stress and help keep a positive mind set.

  6. Don’t feel bad if you don’t write in your journal every day, every week but at least try write every month. I have been using the same journal for over a year.

If you are struggling with depression or self harm, please do speak to someone, a friend, a family member, access a helpline or even your doctor. There is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about, there is support, help and love out there.  

We are human and we have to reveal to heal. Remember you are worthy, beautiful and special.