Have you ever chosen to journal and couldn’t figure out what to write so you gave it up after one day? Maybe when you did get going the journaling was nothing more than a long run-down of the day’s events, and that frustrated you?
If you’re like me, you have an unfinished journal, probably several, tucked in drawers, end tables, or filling a storage box under the bed. Rushed with inspiration and longing to get your thoughts and feelings on paper, you started strong then fizzled out.
Maybe your journaling brought up a lot of negative and distressing feelings and that’s why you quit, but it’s possible the journaling caused you to feel freer when the thoughts and feelings were released from your head and made their way onto the paper.
Elizabeth Scott, M.S., identified how journaling improves mood, reduces stress, and can help manage depression. Twenty minutes of Journaling and working through anxious feelings can actually be good for overall health and improve immune functioning.
Okay, so who could argue with better health and mood? But wait. Steven Stosney, Ph.D. argues that there are positives and negatives to journaling and this creative process might not be good for everyone.
A good way to test the pros and cons is to notice how journaling causes you to feel. If you choose to journal about a bad experience, Stosney says to notice your feelings and your mood. If you find yourself getting too anxious or upset, this may be a sign you should seek out a counselor to help you work through this issue.
The result of journaling is growth. Changing negative emotions into positive ones provides a new perspective. After all, you’re not back there anymore. You survived it.
When you journal, notice your emotions and feelings and mood, and be mindful of where you feel these in your body. Sit with it for a few moments and move on. It will also help to write about what you learned from the experience and how it made you stronger.
Other ways you can journal is to write your feelings into a story and allow your thoughts, feelings, and hurt to play out through your characters. This can help move you further away from the pain and make journaling more bearable and freeing.
An easy way to start the journaling process might be to write down three things (no matter how small) that you’re thankful for. Be mindful of them and then thank God for each of them.
Remember, journaling is just for you and there is no right or wrong thing to write down. You aren’t required to share with anyone. So why not journal your way into better health and well-being by starting today?
I’d love to hear about your journaling routine and what is working for you.
God bless and keep you until we meet again,
Lori C. Helms M.A., LMHC