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How Journaling Helps Support Your Mental Health

Ways the Personal Journal helps co-parents monitor and strengthen their mental health.

Journaling is often perceived as something elementary school children do for fun in notebooks with lockets. While journaling can be a fun activity for all ages, it can also be a therapeutic exercise that helps people struggling with complex emotions learn to process and self-regulate more effectively. Because of its benefits, therapists and other mental health professionals often include journaling as part of their recommendations to patients.

Whether you set your heart on a specific journaling style or try a dozen before picking what works best for you, journaling can be an excellent tool for supporting and regulating your mental state. Combined with the Personal Journal in TalkingParents, co-parents can extend the benefits of journaling into managing difficult moments or emotional patterns related to their shared parenting situation.

What are the benefits of journaling?

When used as a means of releasing stress and practicing mindfulness, regular journaling can be an excellent asset for supporting and improving your mental health. Expressing your concerns and fears, whether they're related to specific events or overall situations, helps you better understand your current emotional and mental state. By writing out your thoughts and feelings, you can strengthen your ability to self-distance from your issues and analyze them more objectively.

When performed as an everyday activity, studies show that specific forms of journaling can help reduce symptoms related to:

Just as different therapy approaches offer varying benefits, different journaling styles provide advantages as well. Here are five common types of journaling that support mental health in unique ways.

Man speaking to a therapist

1. Narrative

Narrative journaling involves repeatedly writing about a specific event or situation that negatively affects your emotions and thoughts. By focusing on detailing the memories, objects, or people related to the event, you can break down a problematic time into more digestible details. Some studies have shown that narrative journaling can be beneficial for those working through symptoms related to PTSD.

2. Expressive

While narrative journaling focuses on the logistics of an event, expressive journaling focuses more on the deeper emotions and thoughts associated with them. To practice expressive journaling, you profoundly and meaningfully recall past events to process more complex emotions related to them.

3. Positive affect (PAJ)

Like expressive journaling, positive affect journaling (PAJ) is a self-regulation practice focusing on emotions. By infusing elements of positive psychology, PAJ involves writing about the positive aspects of your feelings and past experiences to find positive meaning. Shifting your frame of mind through PAJ can help with future efforts to maintain a more optimistic outlook.

4. Three-minute mental makeover (3MMM)

The three-minute mental makeover (3MMM) journaling format was initially developed to help reduce stress and improve communication between healthcare practitioners and their patients. Many participants found it beneficial in feeling less stressed, and some continued journaling to reduce stress.

The 3MMM includes these three prompts that both parties would write:

  • Write 3 things you are grateful for.
  • Write the story of your life in 6 words.
  • Write 3 wishes you have.
Woman smiling looking out a window

5. Bullet (bujo)

While traditional journaling is seen as more expositional, newer methods combine the typical self-reflection with action items. Sometimes called bujo, bullet journaling is a mix of daily planning, creating to-do lists, and writing diary-like entries of current or past events. Using different symbols for bullet points, you can track what matters to you regarding past occurrences and future goals.

How can the Personal Journal help?

For co-parents who deal with unique stressors related to shared parenting, using a journal can significantly help their efforts to conquer parent guilt, cope with missing their kids, and do other things that inevitably protect their mental health. With TalkingParents, the Personal Journal offers an excellent multi-purpose space for journaling, self-reflecting, and much more. Here are five ways that the Journal supports co-parents and their mental health.

1. It helps with self-regulation

Working through shared parenting with your ex can be a stressful experience that involves many negative emotions and co-parenting triggers. Without a proper outlet, those emotions can create a vicious cycle that impacts your ability to care for yourself and your children. Journaling can be a productive way to dump unhealthy cycles of thoughts and feelings, especially when elaborating on your stressors and still making space for things you appreciate and do well.

With the Personal Journal, you have a space for practicing self-regulation and supporting your mental health while managing difficult situations with your ex. Using the Journal to express negative thoughts can help you re-center your perspective while validating your feelings. Parents who use TalkingParents and follow different journaling methods have benefitted by organizing and reframing their thoughts to help them prepare clear, concise messages.

2. It's integrated with TalkingParents

Whether you're a new co-parent or no stranger to shared parenting, managing the significant tasks and subtle nuances of being a co-parent involves many moving parts. Tracking schedules, communicating with your co-parent, managing shared expenses, and more can quickly build up and cause additional stress. If you process that stress through journaling, that likely adds the need for another app or medium. Juggling these functions on top of trying to maintain a journaling routine can quickly become overwhelming and seemingly impossible to manage.

Stressed mother

While many think the only way to deal with responsibilities related to co-parenting is by using a different app for each task, alternative options offer a cohesive co-parenting experience that holds space for supporting your mental health. TalkingParents is an all-inclusive, cost-effective tool that aims to help co-parents focus on their kids while navigating their shared parenting situation. With features like Accountable Payments, a Shared Calendar, and more combined with the Journal, you can handle essential tasks and write about your co-parenting journey with the same service.

3. It's completely private and secure

Unless you intentionally share what you write with a therapist or counselor, journaling is a private activity you don't want others to see. If you're journaling about stress related to your ex, the last person you'd want to share your inner workings with is likely your co-parent. Keeping a journal on your phone or another device can seem risky, with many digital platforms having comprehensive sharing features that sometimes go unnoticed until it's too late. A physical journal may be more secure purely because it isn't digital, but it could still be misplaced, lost, or even stolen if you don't keep track of it.

Even though your Journal is stored within TalkingParents alongside other features that help you interact with your co-parent, any entries you create are private and cannot be viewed by your co-parent. Any attachments you include in a Journal entry are not included in your Attachment Library, so you don't have to consider whether your ex may see any files related to your reflections. Instead of worrying about ensuring a digital journal is confidential or a physical journal is hidden enough, your Journal has the TalkingParents security standards with additional measures to help you keep private information from your co-parent or anyone else.

4. It works for more than just journaling

While journaling offers many benefits, it's not a one-size-fits-all solution for every co-parent who needs an outlet for stress or other negative emotions. Some people may benefit more from to-do lists, timelines of relevant events, or other formats that provide a sense of awareness and documentation. A blank piece of paper can fit most of these functions, but keeping track of that paper or a physical journal presents its challenges. Various digital mediums can meet a co-parent's unique needs and preferences, but issues related to the privacy of a chosen platform can still be a cause for concern.

Because the Journal is a digital blank slate with the same security and convenience as other TalkingParents features, it's a secure option that facilitates whatever purpose works best for each co-parent. Even though it's called a Journal, it serves many different functions based on what co-parents prioritize in their shared parenting dynamic. With the added capability of including relevant attachments, it offers expanded capabilities that traditional journaling mediums sometimes lack.

Co-parents often use the Journal for unique purposes, such as:

  • Drafting messages to their co-parent
  • Tracking parenting time failures
  • Documenting important information for yourself
  • Taking personal notes for future reference
  • Keeping track of reminders and important dates
Man writing in a planner

5. It's included in Unalterable Records

Keeping track of your thoughts and emotions through journaling is helpful, and combining it with working with a mental health or legal professional can vastly increase the benefits. For co-parents working with a mediator or preparing for custody litigation with a lawyer, keeping a journal and sharing its contents can help them paint a more complete picture of a situation. As information changes, however, pulling relevant entries and remembering how things have shifted over time can be challenging to track.

With the Journal, co-parents can edit their entries and reference each entry's edit history in their Unalterable Records. If you want to share important information with a lawyer or counselor, you can reference your Records and share your Journal entries along with any relevant messages or other activity in TalkingParents that may be helpful. Unlike other digital options for journaling, any changes to a Journal entry will show in your Records with details and timestamps for each edit, making it easy to share with professionals who would benefit from it.

Journaling is an effective option for people who need to practice self-regulation and care for their mental health. With TalkingParents, the Journal offers a space for co-parents to vent about their feelings and preserve their emotional well-being. By providing an all-in-one co-parenting service with features covering communication, self-expression, documentation, and more, TalkingParents helps people in shared parenting situations care for themselves and their children.

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