Journals for anxiety, depression, and general mindfulness

For many centuries, journals have served as a tool for recording history, emotional outlets, and creative stimulants. In today’s era of self-care and self-optimization – not to mention digital overload – logbooks are resurfacing, this time as a way to support mental health.

The anti-anxiety notebook, a tidy blue and white volume, is an example. It takes one or more pages of cognitive behavioral therapy, with worksheets that aim to challenge cognitive distortions – thought patterns that can make anxiety worse, such as catastrophism (assuming the most likely possibility. disastrous will happen) or self-blame (“believing that you are entirely responsible for a negative situation,” as the appendix to the book says).

“When we were writing this notebook, we thought, ‘How do you get tools in people’s hands?’ Said Dr. Hod Tamir, clinical advisor to the book’s parent company, Therapy Notebooks. “It’s hard to sift through academic literature to figure out how to deal with your anxiety. And, he noted, “not everyone can go to therapy.”

Therapy Notebooks has sold over 100,000 copies of the Anti-Anxiety Notebooks, priced at $ 38, since its release last summer. The company received an Instagram boost from an admirer: actress Lili Reinhart, a star of The CW’s “Riverdale”, who has spoken openly about managing anxiety and depression. “Wes and I have nothing to do with it,” said Varshil Patel, who founded Therapy Notebooks with Wesley Zhao, of Ms. Reinhart’s position.

In total, their company works with 10 psychologists to create their products. In November, Therapy Notebooks will release a more academic guide focusing on depression.

The potential value of mental health care has not escaped business. Capital risk company invested $ 852 million in mental health tools in the first quarter of 2021, a 73% increase from the same period last year, according to CB Insights, an analytics company.

And there is a documented demand for such tools. “Individuals are seeking treatment at levels we’ve never seen before,” said Dr. Vaile Wright, senior director of healthcare innovation at the American Psychological Association.

“You see more hospitalizations and suicidal thoughts,” Dr. Wright said. “People suffer more from depression, anxiety and addiction. But you’ve also seen an increase in acceptance of mental health care, with celebrities and athletes talking more about it. She said self-directed cognitive behavioral therapy – in a journal, for example – is effective in reducing symptoms of depression or anxiety, especially when the case is mild.

Although there is now less stigma around mental health care, treatment remains out of reach for many. About a third of people who have needed mental health care in the past year have not been able to get it, said the Kaiser Family Foundation survey from earlier this year found. The two main challenges? Find a supplier and cover the costs. (Not all providers take out insurance, and many do so at their own expense.)

Although keeping a diary has been a popular practice at least since the 10th century by Japanese court women, its therapeutic effects were first studied by James Pennebaker in 1986. review scientific literature has found that expressive writing can relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety and other disorders; increase psychological well-being; and support resilience and recovery from trauma.

When people use writing to express themselves, Dr. Wright said, they “increase emotional regulation, clarify life goals, find meaning, and give voice to feelings, which can help build a story. significant “. She added that looking back through old diary entries can remind the writer of times when she struggled but persevered.

Anyone who bought a blank journal in a fit of inspiration and then let it pick up some dust knows that spontaneous journaling can be hard to follow. “These guided reviews have this added benefit of focusing content,” Dr. Wright said. “It’s almost like a bridge to do it with a therapist.”

Writing by hand is also a way to disconnect. Papier, a stationery company in London, established its Wellness Journal ($ 32.99) last October after employees noticed customers were using its paper products to unplug. “There was a general interest in analog, with people shutting down the technology because they were inundated with Zoom calls and had no distinction between life and work,” said Sophie Agar, brand manager. global business.

Inside, the journal is “quite directional in some areas, but we leave a little room for interpretation,” Ms. Agar said. “There’s room for intentions, monitoring sleep and water, planning meals, tracking your mood.” Papier has sold 60,000 copies of the Wellness Journal.

The journal of the human being, which went on sale last November, offers a similar combination of soul searching and goal setting. Created by Genevive Savundranayagam and Sheba Zaidi, who quit their jobs in corporate communications last February to start a business called Mahara Mindfulness, the diary begins with a vision board with different categories, such as career, health, travel and community. Further down there are questions that aim to engage the recipient, such as “How comfortable are you being alone?”

The Human Being Journal has already appeared in Oprah Daily’s Healthy Living Guide; on Poosh, Kourtney Kardashian’s lifestyle site; and on Lauren Conrad’s Gift Guide. (Oprah Winfrey has her own “The Life You Want” planner on sale at the end of this month.) So far, women are far ahead of men in journaling, at least according to sales numbers. Eighty percent of Therapy Notebooks customers are women and 90 percent of all Papier customers are women.

Buying these laptops is not enough; to take advantage of it, you have to set aside time for reflection. The founders of the Human Being Journal recommend sitting down with their guide once a month for a year.

“I light a candle and spend an hour with myself,” Ms. Savundranayagam said. “We are not a journal that you write quickly. It takes time. But you don’t fall for a dream life.

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