Hugh Jackman on the Mental Health Benefits of Journaling

“Every morning I do it, because I realized how stunted I was.”

Where previously mental health was relegated to the periphery and rarely considered, in recent years the importance of safeguarding and protecting our mental health has never been more apparent. If anything has come out of the lockdown imposed by Covid-19, it’s that mental health should be a daily priority, just like exercising our muscles and brushing our teeth. For Hugh Jackman, it’s something he’s particularly passionate about, especially since there’s always a stigma that surrounds such conversations. Seeking to challenge these deeply ingrained (and outdated) ideas of masculinity, Jackman explained why he turns to journaling every day to deal with his own “stunted” emotions.

In an interview with vanity lounge editor Radhika Jones, the 53-year-old star, shared that he no longer subscribes to such outdated notions of masculinity and that men should feel empowered to shun these traditional attitudes knowing that our mental health and our well-being will only be the more we open up, to ourselves and to others.

“A lot of what I grew up with in Australia, a very patriarchal society, is thoroughly questioned and broken down on a daily basis; this whole idea, when I was growing up, that girls somehow became women, but boys had to be made into men – you had to push them, challenge them,” Jackman said.

The actor added that as a child he thought talking about emotions and feelings of fear was off limits and shouldn’t be discussed. “I was actually quite a scared kid. I remember being really scared, but you had no right to be scared,” Jackman said. But now Jackman says more and more people reverse these attitudes and ensure that emotions are openly discussed.

“Men are encouraged to empathize, to understand your feelings, to have a vocabulary around feelings.”

Hugh Jackman

For Jackman, journaling came into his life thanks to his therapist who recommended that he incorporate it into his daily routine as a tool to unpack his emotions and reflect more on their meaning. “Last year I started a journal that begins with two words: ‘I feel.’ It was a bit of a homework, and I kind of went, journaling, ugh. And now every morning I do, obsessively, because I realized how stunted I was.” , did he declare.

Since introducing journaling to his life, Jackman says the habit has highlighted how confused he sometimes felt about his emotional reactions. “I would often write ‘confused’, and my therapist would say, ‘Confused: that’s a red flag. Confused just means there’s more than one thing you’re feeling. Just list what things are. I realized how rickety I was about this.

The practice is one Jackman recommends to all men, and it has also changed the way he now raises his children as he wants them to be more open to their own emotions. “Over the past year, I’ve changed the way I talk to them. Before a year ago, I thought my job was to take the fear away from them — don’t burden them with your worries,” he said. “Now I’m literally the opposite, and they love it. I’m not trying to ingratiate myself with them, but I’m just letting them know they’re not the only ones. [who are worried]. I’m 53, I’ve done a lot of things and I still feel all those things.

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