In the many, many incarnations of Star Trek, the members of Starfleet all seem to participate in an important ritual: They all keep a journal (and it can help your mental health).
Sure, they call it a “log”—as in “Captain’s log” or “personal log” or what have you—but it is, for all intents and purposes, a journal. Star Trek characters share their thoughts, their concerns, their successes, and their hopes in these journals. Admittedly, these logs are a handy narrative device for the writers of these adventures because they allow a character to share information with the viewer directly, which can really help move things along or help fans understand tricky nuances of the plot.
But let’s think about all those journals as though we were “in universe” rather than viewing it from the outside. Is keeping a log (or a couple of logs—one official and one personal) just a tedious chore or might it play a more important role for those who do it regularly?
The answer, at least in real life and back here on Earth, turns out to be that journaling can have a range of benefits that help support our mental health. And good mental health is desirable whether you are exploring the far reaches of space or just trying to navigate your daily activities here at home.
The Potential Benefits of—and Options for—Journaling
Keeping a journal can help you process emotions, identify and work through challenges you are facing, remind you to be grateful for the good things in your life, and help you hold yourself accountable for changes you would like to make or goals you would like to achieve.
For example, a stream of consciousness journal—in which you simply write whatever comes into your head without judgment—can help you see patterns of thoughts or ideas that you are not consciously aware of. An art journal—in which you doodle or draw or paint or what have you—can serve a similar purpose. Efforts to make visible the workings of the unconscious mind via words or images can provide information and ideas that may be useful in therapy.
A gratitude journal is just what it sounds like: a place to record things for which you are grateful. Often, this sort of journal takes the form of a list of three positive things that happened during your day. Sometimes people get hung up on the idea that the things for which they are grateful must be different each day or must be particularly grand or consequential. But the truth is that a list of simple things—a good meal, a beautiful sunset, a casual chat with a friend—can be just as powerful as a list of major moments or goals achieved. Everyday gratitude is good for your mental health, and a gratitude journal can help you remember and take advantage of that.
Another option is an accountability journal in which you keep track of your progress toward a goal or goals. You might track your eating habits in an effort to move away from sugary snacks to healthier alternatives. You might track your exercise routine to help you stay motivated and so that you can see—and celebrate—progress. Or you might have a desire to be more intentionally kind and helpful on a daily basis. An accountability journal allows you to record your successes and gently keep track of areas where you can still improve. This work toward self-improvement is good for your mental health as long as you give yourself grace and avoid harsh self-judgment.
No matter what kind of journal you end up keeping, you will be giving yourself the opportunity to bolster your mental health—and that’s a goal well worth writing down.
Johnstown Heights Log: Today We Helped People Build and Sustain Better Mental Health
If you are struggling with a mental health disorder, don’t wait to get the help you need.
At our beautiful facility in Colorado, we have the experience, expertise, and compassion necessary to help you improve your mental health and sustain those improvements over time. We treat each person we serve as an individual — listening intently and developing treatment plans that are specific to your needs. We can address anxiety and panic disorders, the many different kinds of depression, disorders grounded in traumatic experiences, and more. When you are ready to get started, we are ready to help you rewrite the story of your mental health.