Journaling in January

Anxiety, Depression

A new way to start the New Year

| By Erica Marriaga, MSW, LCSW

When was the last time you spent time alone, in silence, and took time to journal? If you can relate to me, you might be stuck in thinking of a timeframe. Maybe you take notes on your phone about your emotions, likes, dislikes, and topics that you find important in your life.

Photo by Jess Bailey Designs from Pexels

Journaling might look different for everybody.  For some, it is writing a list, for others, it is creating a work of art, or focusing on writing paragraphs. There are several different types of journals. You will see below that there are really no rules and it can be enlightening and helpful to your mental health.

What Items Do I Need to Create a Journal?

The first step in creating a journal is deciding if you will use a notebook, journal, a document on the computer, or your phone. You also want to consider if you will share it with others or keep it private.  

  • If you decide to use a notebook or journal, you will need a pen or pencil/writing utensil.  If you do not have either on hand, you can use a writing pad or any blank piece of paper.   Writing can be cathartic as it allows you to express yourself and you can also use any artistic abilities you possess.
  • If you use an electronic device, you will need enough battery power or make sure there is enough charge to use for an extended period of time. Using the computer or phone allows you the benefit of editing the information you created without altering the original document.

How Do I Start Journaling?

It is quite simple once you decide the format of journaling you will be using. Writing in a journal can be free flowing or you can use a specific prompt or format. Journaling does not have to involve a major time commitment, as you can use 5 minutes.

  • Make a commitment of journaling
    • If you only journal one time, you will most likely not notice the benefit of helping with your mental health
  • You do not need an unlimited amount of time
    • Even if you have 5 minutes, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to
  • Decide if you are going to schedule a time to journal or if you are going to journal as you need to
    • There might be times in which you are stressed or overwhelmed, and you notice the need to get the emotions out
    • Other times, you might want look at different times you have available
  • Pick a place that you find comfortable, or create a safe journaling space
    • If you have limited time, you might notice that the bus ride home from work or school will allow you time
    • You might want to create a corner in your room or living room
  • Decide What type of journal you are interested in writing
    • Below you will learn more about the different types of journaling but try not to overthink it:

How Will Journaling Help Me Feel Better?

According to Bisma Anwar, LMHC, these are just a few of many of the benefits of journaling:

  •  Reducing stress
  • Identifying and tracking goals
  • Achieving those goals
  • Tracking problems so you can recognize triggers
  • Finding inspiration
  • Improving self-confidence 
  • Overcoming fears
  • Identifying and addressing negative thoughts and behaviors
  • Starting a habit of using self-talk and creating mantras

As always, if you find yourself struggling in these areas, do not hesitate to reach out for help. A licensed therapist or counselor can help empower you to be your best self! 


Erica Marriaga is a proud fur-mama of her one-eyed rescue dog, Toby, and her puppy, Tucker. She loves to spend time with her son, husband, and bond with her family, nieces, and nephews. Erica is passionate and enthusiastic about her role as a therapist. EWC has locations in Manalapan and Shrewsbury, NJ, and accepts a variety of insurances.

EWC has locations in Manalapan and Shrewsbury, NJ, and accepts a variety of insurances.

Check out Erica’s professional bio here!

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