5 tips on writing a journal

•Be honest with your thoughts and feelings. Write with the knowledge that nobody is judging you. Know that it is always better to spew toxic emotions out on paper instead of on another person, or doing harm to yourself.

•Keep your journal at hand. Ensure that it is easily accessible whenever you need to pen down your thoughts. You can use the Notes function in your mobile phone, download journal apps or carry a physical notebook. If you keep handwritten journal entries, your handwriting can lend clues to your state of mind when you were writing.

•Have a game plan before writing about stressful events or sad memories. Right after you are done journaling, do something that you enjoy, such as taking a relaxing walk in the park or drinking a cup of coffee. If you experience rising emotional distress, you are advised to stop writing and, instead, write strokes "///" in place of words. This gives you a mental "breather".

•Notice trends in your journal entries. These trends can be picked up through the recurring words or phrases that you use.

•Revisit your journal entries when you are calmer. You can, sometimes, see that certain thoughts you have are irrational. We often think of ourselves in a certain way, so journaling helps you to challenge the way you are looking at yourself or a situation.

Joan Chew

•Source: Ms Nicole K., workshop trainer at For[e]word

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2016, with the headline '5 tips on writing a journal'. Print Edition | Subscribe