Journaling- Not a painful homework assignment after all.
If you are anything like me, when someone mentions journaling (as in “Kat, you should start journaling”) I actually have a physical reaction to it. I feel a slight pang of anxiety and dread in my stomach, as if I have been magically whisked back to my high school English class where we’ve just been assigned a lengthy term paper about the Canterbury Tales.
The first words that run through my head are “oh dear God… No.” with an audibly heavy sigh, followed by my brain kicking into high speed immediately inventing excuses about why journaling isn’t a good fit for me.
If you can relate to this then keep reading. If you can't, then also keep reading (you journal loving alien from another planet).
Ok, I will come clean… I am now a closet journal-er. I fought it for years, but finally gave in after reading one of Brene Brown’s books where she cited a study done on journaling for only a few minutes for 4 consecutive days. At the end of those 4 days the people in the study had measurable improvements in their anxiety, they felt calmer with a clearer mind and fewer ruminating thoughts (among other benefits). I took it as a challenge, thinking to myself: “Only a few minutes each day for 4 days? That doesn’t sound so bad. Even I can do that.”
And I do. I get up each morning and while I am getting my coffee ready I sit down with my iPad and I spend a few minutes journaling about any feelings or situations going on in my life, brainstorming various ideas or actions I could take to keep me going in the direction that I want to go. I also set an intention for the day which sounds very basic, but has really impacted my life. Who would have guessed that just telling myself how I plan to impact my day would stick with me, lift me up and deliver results?
Don’t just take my word for the benefits of journaling. Many studies have indicated that even short amounts of journaling can aid in managing anxiety and depression, strengthen our immune system, reduce blood pressure, improve sleep and reduce ruminating thoughts. It also gives us an outlet for negative emotions, calming and clearing our mind, sharpens our memory and helps regulate our emotions.
Tips for successful journaling sessions:
Do not edit as you go. Just allow yourself to get things out. Flow.
Journal in a quiet personal space free of distractions.
Hand writing your journal is recommended, but typing is acceptable.
Structure it however you want to. Story telling, bullet points- anything.
Give yourself a few minutes to relax and re-balance after your journaling session.
Journal about whatever feels right in the moment. Nothing is off limits.
With all the craziness and uncertainty in our world right now it’s important to do what we can to take care of ourselves. Journaling is a very easy and scientifically proven way to do just that.
For more information about stress management contact me at Kat@thepowerofchange.net