Welcome to Wellness Wednesdays! Join us to journal, craft, and relax in the Makerspace! Student Counseling Service, Howe Writing Center, and the University Libraries are offering this program to students, faculty, and staff. Each session will include some journaling, a maker project, and a short presentation from Student Counseling Service staff on the mental health benefits of journaling and crafting. You can also find a wide variety of resources on the benefits of journaling and crafting here, with information provided by Miami University Student Counseling Services.
Mental Health Benefits of Crafting
Crafting and art contribute to overall happiness and mental well-being
Lowers stress levels and promote mental calmness
Places your brain in a mental flow, taking your mind off of your everyday life and provides a relaxing distraction
Encourages creative thinking and imagination
Enhances problem-solving skills
Boosts self-esteem and provides a sense of accomplishment
Produces dopamine, which makes people feel good, increases drive, and improves concentration
Stimulates the neurological system to enhance health and well-being, prevent depression, and can slow down aging
Enhances cognitive abilities and memory for people with serious brain disorders, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Distracts those with chronic health illnesses from their condition by focusing on a positive experience, giving them a sense of achievement, helping them express their feelings, and strengthening their identity
“Creative and artistic engagement positively contributes to many aspects of physiological and psychological conditions typically associated with improved health status. Through creativity and imagination, we find our identity and our reservoir of healing” (Stuckey & Nobel, 2010).
Ideas for Crafting
Color in an adult coloring book
Paint a picture
Make a vision board
Engage in creative writing
Sew a piece of clothing or a dog bed for a local animal shelter
Get out in nature and take some photos
Learn to play an instrument
Make a door wreath
Bake and decorate a cake
Learn to crochet
Make pottery or a clay-molding
Create a seasonal centerpiece for your table
Take a woodcarving class
Join a knitting group. Not only can group members help you improve your skills, they can also become friends and keep you from feeling isolated.
Johns, L. (2019, April 18). Crafting helped my grandma treat her depression. https://www.healthline.com/health/diy-depression-therapy-how-the-arts-can-heal
Gutman, S. A., & Schindler, V. P. (2007). The neurological basis of occupation. Occupational therapy international, 14(2), 71–85. https://doi.org/10.1002/oti.225
Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups. (2021). The mental health benefits of art. https://scrippsamg.com/mental-health-benefits-of-art/#:~:text=Don't%20Stress%2C%20Paint!&text=Art%20and%20mental%20health%20can,and%20provides%20a%20relaxing%20distraction.
Stuckey, H. L., & Nobel, J. (2010). The connection between art, healing, and public health: a review of current literature. American Journal of Public Health, 100(2), 254–263. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2008.156497
Mental Health Benefits of Scrapbooking and Memory Keeping
What is scrapbooking?
Scrapbooking is a crafting and documenting activity, involving taking books with blank pages and adding photos, memorabilia, journaling, and embellishments. Creating a scrapbook preserves memories for future generations and serves as a fun, creative outlet for the scrapbooker.
Scrapbooks can involve using supplies (e.g., cutting tools, adhesives, stencils, pens, stamps) to place memorabilia into a hard-copy album book. Or, you can make a digital scrapbook! You will need a computer, an image editing software, and some digital graphics (including your photos). For more information, check out these websites!
Mental health benefits of scrapbooking (Wonsik, 2018)
Catharsis and psychological resiliency
As we create art, our brain integrates our memories and life experiences which helps us organize and make sense of the world, providing emotional release
A better understanding of our past and current lives prepares us for and builds psychological strength for our future
Increased self-awareness and gratitude
We learn about ourselves, our values, and our routines
We gain perspective as we examine our positive and negative experiences and find closure
Builds self-worth and celebrates our love for others
Dedicating time for ourselves to create art reminds us that we are worthwhile
Documenting our lives and the lives of our loved ones tells them that we really “see” them and that they matter.
Fosters connection and builds community
Crafters are a community, inspiring and supporting one another
A chance to play
Adults need play in our lives and scrapbooking is a fun hobby, full of color, photography, writing, messiness, and art!
A space just for you
Turn a space in your home into your crafting space…and make it all your own! No rules, your safe haven, and a place for fun, experimentation, and relaxation.
Wonsik, L. (2018, March 22). Scrapbooking is good for you. http://laurawonsik.blogspot.com/
Mental Health Benefits of Vision Boards
Improves focus on our goals and aspirations
Increased positive emotion and optimism by imagining a positive future
Gain self-awareness and self-reflection on what is important to us, which facilitates us more easily reaching our goals.
Helps us to get “unstuck” from our daily routines. Our lives can be exhausting and we lose touch with our creative sides. Creativity allows for more flexible thinking.
Visualization: seeing the vision board each day provides daily inspiration to stay on track toward meeting our goals, even when facing setback.
Increases passion and excitement about our goals and spurs us to take action
Brings fun to our days! Add new ideas, photos, and goals without anyone judging us.
Burton, L. & Lent, J. (2016). The use of vision boards as a therapeutic intervention. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 11:1, 52-65. DOI: 10.1080/15401383.2015.1092901
Cherney, K. (2020, July 23). How vision boards and art therapy help make bad days with depression better. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/vision-boards-and-art-therapy-for-depression
Ricker, M. (2022). 5 reasons to make a vision board in 2022 (+ how to, ideas). https://www.aconsciousrethink.com/4257/5-reasons-everyone-make-vision-board/
How to Journal
Try these tips to help you get started with journaling:
Try to write every day. Set aside a few minutes every day to write. This will help you to write in your journal regularly.
Make it easy. Keep a pen and paper handy at all times. Then, when you want to write down your thoughts, you can. You can also keep a journal on your smartphone.
Write or draw whatever feels right. Your journal doesn't need to follow any certain structure. It's your own private place to discuss and create whatever you want to express your feelings. Let the words and ideas flow freely. Don't worry about spelling mistakes or what other people might think.
Shift your viewpoint. Keeping a journal gives you a chance to use positive self-talk. If you find yourself jotting down only negative thoughts, try to shift your writing in another direction.
Track patterns. A journal can help you track your emotions and improve your self-awareness. If you log how you feel every day, you may spot things that trigger depression or anxiety. You may discover you're worried about something you didn't know was upsetting you until you wrote it down. It’s a great way to learn about yourself!
Take control of any racing thoughts. When your thoughts and worries swirl around, putting pen to paper can cut down the chaos.
Use your journal as you see fit. You don't have to share your journal with anyone. If you do want to share some of your thoughts with trusted friends and loved ones, you could show them parts of your journal.
Keeping a journal helps you create order when your world feels like it’s in chaos. You get to know yourself by revealing your most private fears, thoughts, and feelings. Look at your writing time as personal relaxation time. It's a time when you can de-stress and wind down. Write in a place that's relaxing and soothing, maybe with a cup of tea. Look forward to your journaling time. And know that you're doing something good for your mind and body.
Mental Health Benefits of Expressive Writing
Expressive writing can help us feel less overwhelmed during times of stress.
Expressive writing improves mental and physical health. Writing about our emotions and problems allows us to make sense of them and accept or change them. We begin to observe our concerns with a bit more detachment, freeing up the mind for healthier things, such as improved sleep and meaningful socializing.
When we put our thoughts and feelings down on paper, we’re not just transferring them—we’re also transforming them. Writing forces us to arrange our ideas into a sequence, one after another; over time, themes and patterns start to emerge and new insights and perspectives start to bubble up (Chan & Horneffer, 2006).
Keeping a gratitude journal decreases materialism and improves generosity (Chaplin, et. al., 2019).
Feeling overwhelmed with COVID? Check out the Pandemic Project website, offering expressive writing prompts to begin exploring emotions and experiences about the pandemic and receive feedback from psychology researchers.
Expressive writing worksheets: https://positivepsychology.com/self-expressive-writing-worksheets-collection-11-pdfs/
Gratitude writing improves mental health not just for healthy, well-adjusted individuals, but also for those who struggle with mental health concerns. By focusing on how grateful and thankful we are for others, gratitude letter writing distracts us from negative emotions (jealousy, resentment), making it difficult to ruminate on negative experiences. Even when gratitude letters are not sent to others, simply the act of writing distracts us from negative emotions and allows us to focus on appreciating others in our lives. Expressing gratitude may have lasting effects on the brain, evidenced by brain activity associated with decreased guilt and increased attentiveness to such things as charitable giving (Wong et. al., 2018).
Journaling is a powerful way to translate our experiences into words. Daily journaling assists us helps keep our days unique and distinct, clears out distressing or obsessive thoughts, and helps improve our health and immune systems. Journaling led to significant decreases in psychological symptoms of depression, anxiety, and hostility (Chan & Horneffer, 2006), lower blood pressure, and fewer symptoms of chronic disease such as asthma, IBS, and arthritis.
Chan, K.M. & Horneffer, K. (2006). Emotional expression and psychological symptoms: A comparison of writing and drawing. The Arts in Psychotherapy, Vol 33, pp 26-36.
Chaplin, L.N., John, D.R., Rindfleisch, A, & Froh, J.J. (2019). The impact of gratitude on adolescent materialism and generosity, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 14:4, 502-511, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2018.1497688
Wong, Y.J., Owen, J., Gabana, N.T., Brown, J.W., McInnis, S., Toth, P. & Gilman, L. (2018). Does gratitude writing improve the mental health of psychotherapy clients? Evidence from a randomized controlled trial, Psychotherapy Research, 28:2, 192-202, DOI: 10.1080/10503307.2016.1169332
Mental Health Benefits of Journaling
Journaling is a documentation of your thoughts and feelings. As you write a journal, you can write down your inner thoughts to help you get things in perspective. If you’re struggling with depression, stress, or anxiety, journaling helps you explore your what’s on your mind and this positively impacts your mental health.
Pick a journaling tool of your choice. You can write a blog, a diary, or notes in your phone. You can write in your journal every day, or you can make this a weekly habit, and you can write whatever you want. What should you write in your mental health journal? Here are some journal entry suggestions you can follow:
Expressive Writing: Talk about the events or your experiences during the day (self-reflect, self-expression, or explore your thoughts and emotions).
Personal Planning Journal: This is a goal-setting type of journal. Reflect on your short-term and long-term goals. Formulate a realistic game plan on how to achieve them, and how to keep track of your progress.
Gratitude Journal: Write down the good things you’re grateful for and your life’s blessings.
Write a letter to yourself: Write down your achievements, address your self-doubt, how you can do better the next time, or how you can take care of your mental health.
Stress Management Journal: Write down and describe the stressful moments and emotions you’re going through. Think about stress management techniques you can use.
Keeping a journal is a great idea when coping with depression, stress, or anxiety. Doing a “brain dump” through writing is like taking a walk in nature; it will help clear your head from negative emotions. So what are the benefits of journaling to your mental health? Here’s what you need to know.
Journaling Helps Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Journaling can help you explore your thoughts and emotions, whether it be your worries, stressful events, or anxious feelings. When you start writing about your stressful experiences, you’ll begin to feel your nerves soothing; you’ll feel calmer and have a clearer mind to come up with solutions to fix your problems.
Start with writing down your problems, thoughts, and feelings towards the situation or what causes your stress. Then try to figure out healthy coping strategies to address your problems.
For example, if you’re worried about an upcoming presentation, journaling allows you to see how much time and how many days you’ve been stressed or had sleepless nights. What can you do to solve this? Ask help from a co-worker or insights from your boss to nail this presentation. So, you’ll be prepared, feel more confident, and do not have to worry as much about this presentation.
Benefits of Gratitude Journaling
Gratitude journaling includes writing down what you’re grateful for or your life’s blessings. You may not have everything you want right now, or you still have goals to achieve, but you still can recognize the other positive things happening in your life.
This is an effective strategy to relieve stress as you realize that whatever problems you have, you’re still thankful for the other good things in your life. Gratitude journaling helps place you in a positive mood, cheer you up, and lower blood pressure.
Be thankful for another day, another opportunity to improve. Be thankful for your family and loved ones who serves as your support system. Be thankful for simple things like good health, a roof over your head, and positive experiences.
Journaling Benefits of Emotional Release
Emotional release journaling helps with reflection, healing, resolve traumas, understanding past experiences, boost your mood, and reduce stress. When you write down your pent-up emotions, you experience an emotional release, allowing you to facing any residual emotions you may have been avoiding.
Writing in an emotional release journal helps you understand your traumas, fears, worries and what’s holding you back. As you document your bottled-up emotions, you begin to understand these past painful experiences with new insight, in light of the experience and knowledge you’ve accrued since then. With this, you can find inspiration to move forward.
For example, you have a rough day, your car breaks down, you’re late for class/work, and you get reprimanded by your professor/supervisor. Your emotions are bottled up and you want to scream. Instead of lashing out on other people, write your feelings in your journal—this a healthy way to manage anger.
Benefits of Writing a Journal Before Bed
Do you keep on tossing and turning at night as you think of your responsibilities for tomorrow? That’s where writing a journal before bed can help. Unfinished tasks and worrying about completing them causes a person to worry and have difficulty falling asleep. A 2018 study shows that people who write a journal with their to-do list for tomorrow and the goals to achieve for the week tend to fall asleep faster. If you don’t get enough sleep and feel tired every day, this significantly and negatively affects your mental health.
Before bed, it helps to write about your specific tasks for tomorrow or the week. In your journal, you can even write down your schedule to make things more organized. As you try this, you’ll find that you’re more productive every day and you can sleep well at night. Journal-writing before bed is not just for organizing your to-do list for the next day. It can also be used for expressive writing as a way to vent and understand your emotions.
The Benefits of Journaling to Fight Depression
The benefits of journaling are proven to help fight depression. You can write about your deepest thoughts, what bothers you, and your emotions. By writing down everything you’re going through, you can identify patterns that may be warning signs of depression. With the information you write in your journal, you may recognize the need for more social support and/or professional help to address your mental health.
The Bottomline on a Keeping a Journal
Journaling can benefit everyone, and it has many positive impacts on your mental health. People in therapy can use their journals as a guide to communicating with their therapist. Use your journal as your guide to your journey for a better you.
Kentucky Counseling Center. (2021, March 22). The benefits of journaling to your mental health. https://kentuckycounselingcenter.com/benefits-of-journaling-your-mental-health/