Self-care through journaling.
Journaling has long been touted by mental health professionals to be an effective stress management tool. When I was going through a particularly hard time in my life, I was encouraged by my therapist to journal. I resisted for a long time. There is something uncomfortable about facing your thoughts in black and white when you’re all screwed-up inside. I did journal occasionally, and I was always emotionally exhausted afterward. I went on about my life, but I feel my spiritual growth was probably stunted for a while because I refused to journal.
When my youngest child was an infant, a new friend of mine gave me a link to her online diary. I read a few of her entries, then I started a diary of my own. I liked it because it was online, so there was no actual hard copy for any of my family members to stumble across, and because it could be as anonymous as I wanted it to be. I remember writing my first entry, stating that I hadn’t had a diary since I was 15 years old, and that it felt kind of weird. I didn’t tell my friend about my diary at first. I wrote some private entries and hid them away in the WWW forever.
There was a tremendous, supportive community of diarists in this online community I had joined, and soon I learned to take full advantage of the anonymous support it offered. I began to call it my “free therapy”. Through journaling, and having a group of supportive strangers read it and give me feedback, I was able to make great strides on my path towards mental and spiritual health. The diary site I used no longer exists, but there are others now, and you can even start a public blog while remaining anonymous.
After 8 years, I stopped writing in that anonymous diary and started blogging. I’m not totally anonymous anymore. Some of my best friends are people that I met through the original online diary community. My journaling has definitely enriched my life in so many ways, and now I am comfortable with public blogging.
Journaling is like meditation. It’s a quiet reflection, and when you put your thoughts on paper, it is much easier to make sense of them. It’s a great stress reducer…a stressful situation always seems like a little less of a big deal after you have written about it. So if meditation isn’t your thing, try journaling for 15-20 minutes a day. The benefits are well worth the small amount of time invested. If you don’t want to go high-tech, pen and paper will work just fine.
Sometimes if I don’t feel like writing, I just go back and read old entries. I can entertain myself for (too many) hours this way. It’s like going back in time…you can read exactly what your thoughts were of a particular situation, and even feel the emotions associated with it.
Journaling can be just a way to record events of your daily life, or it can be much, much more. It can be a way of working through complex emotional situations, making big decisions, reducing stress, and more. Having the thoughts down in black and white avoids thinking in circles, like so many of us are prone to do.
Sometimes I journal just for the fun of it. I’ll pick a random memory from my past and write about it. Or I’ll use one of the many websites that gives journaling prompts to find a random subject to write about.
So, I guess the point of this article is this: If you’re not where you want to be in ANY area of your life, whether it be spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially…if you have problems with relationships, self-esteem, motivation, making decisions, then journaling is a valuable, FREE tool for you to use. And if you are exactly where you want to be in every area of your life, then you’ve probably been journaling all along! It’s THAT powerful.