Journaling is something you may do during your inpatient treatment as part of the mental health program. You don’t need to know how, journaling happens for each of us by touching pencil to paper or fingertips to keyboard and flows from there. Journaling is something that each person does a little differently. One person might write out their day’s events in a neat list. Another might make a chart or graph. Others might use the journal to convey their private feelings and thoughts. But sometimes the blank page is tough to tackle. If you don’t know what to write, or you feel silly trying to start with “Dear Diary” in the traditional way, perhaps stream-of-consciousness journaling is the way you’ll journaling will come to life.
Journaling can help you through your inpatient recovery by reflecting on your thoughts, feelings, and impressions through the experience. Let’s dive into how stream-of-consciousness journaling might be the channel you need to make mental health progress during your inpatient stay.
What Is Stream-of-Consciousness Journaling?
Stream of consciousness journaling allows you to write anything that comes to mind, as it comes to mind. Just start writing words and don’t stop, without worrying about sentence structure or even complete thoughts.
When you journal, you channel your thoughts onto the page. But your thoughts don’t need to be organized. In fact, many people find that under the practical top-layer of thoughts, your mind is chaos. All those thoughts and feelings you never process during the day have to go somewhere. And sorting out the inside of your head is a bigger task than most self-help guides give you credit for.
Write anything you think of. You might jump from your feelings about work to worrying about your cat to tender thoughts for your children. You can state an emotion or list the emotions you’re feeling without explaining them. Further, you can write images and thoughts without worrying about how they fit into the narrative of writing about your day.
What if your feelings aren’t neatly packaged statements? What if your thoughts at the end of the day are all over the place? Just let it flow all out onto the page.
Why Is Stream-of-Consciousness Journaling Good for Your Mental Health?
When all that chaos is packed into your brain, your mental health will naturally suffer. As modern adults, we tend to stuff our feelings in favor of practical decision-making. We don’t tell our nosy coworkers to shove off, hyperventilate over tight financial issues, or scream at traffic jams. But we want to. Denying these feelings may make things easier to deal with in the moment, but over time, bottling all that up can lead to panic attacks or social blow-ups.
Instead, let all that chaos flow out of you into words you can read back. Over time, those chaotic thoughts will start to form patterns. You’ll get better at turning your feelings into words, then connecting what you feel to causes, effects, and actions you can take.
What Are the Mental Health Benefits of Stream-of-Consciousness Journaling?
Discover Your True Feelings
One of the biggest benefits of writing your stream-of-consciousness is discovering how you really feel. When you don’t stop yourself from writing, you can see what’s really rattling around in your brain. By reading back what you write, you can see patterns in your thinking – and connect how your emotions are really working behind the curtains.
Find Ways to Actualize
Once you know how you feel, you can start building a more complete sense of yourself. This is where your mental health really begins to grow. You can take a feeling of rage and eventually be able to say “I hate it when my sister criticizes my children. It makes me want to scream”. You can take a feeling of terror that keeps you up at night and finally say to yourself “Money is tight, but we have a plan and everything will be okay” so you can finally get a good night’s sleep.
If you feel trapped, you can make plans to try something new. Or you might discover that your thoughts always turn to a special person when you’re ready to feel better.
When It Becomes Brainstorming
Last but not least, as your mental chaos starts becoming under your control, stream-of-consciousness journaling can become brainstorming. You can use the same method to explore your mind, look for ideas, and use your nightly emotions to guide your decisions toward happiness the next day.
Learn More About Stream-of-Consciousness Journaling?
When you start stream-of-consciousness journaling, you are beginning a journey of mental wellness. As chaos becomes an actualized understanding of yourself, your journaling may grow into a more organized self-examination. But you never have to graduate from stream-of-consciousness writing if you find it inspiring and freeing to let your mind express itself freely each night before bed.
Tackling your mental health during inpatient recovery can be tough. Letting your thoughts flow into stream-of-consciousness journaling can help.