Journaling for Stress Management

When you think of journalling, you may wonder how it can be an effective stress relief tool. After all, it is only pen on paper right? The truth is that journalling can have a significant positive impact on ones mental health. Studies have shown that journalling on a regular basis helps people to identify and process negative emotions, and ultimately relieve anxiety.

"Journaling requires the application of the analytical, rational left side of the brain; while your left hemisphere is occupied, your right hemisphere (the creative, touchy-feely side) is given the freedom to wander and play - Grothaus, 2015"

Allowing your creative side to thrive and expand can be cathartic and make an extraordinary difference to your daily life and overall well-being: regulating emotions and releasing tension in the mind and body. Perhaps one of the most valuable benefits of journalling is the ability to regulate our emotions more efficiently. Journalling provides enhanced clarity and control, especially when we journal with the intent of developing our sense of self, strengthening ones emotional intelligence.

Journalling doesn't just help with keeping a clear mind and strong self-efficacy, it can be particularly beneficial when dealing with trauma and overcoming depression. A vast review on the topic was published in 2005 by Australian researchers who found that "expressive writing" led to reduced blood pressure, improved immune system functioning, fewer visits to the doctor (and shorter stays in the hospital), improved mood, reduced symptoms of depression, improved memory and more. Now that you have a mere snap-shot of the benefits of journalling for stress management and mind body well-being, you'll want to be sure of the strategies for most effective journalling...

1 . Get the right tools: a pen that you love to write with, and a good quality journal (if it's too plain, you might be less inclined to use it every day).

2 . Find a quiet spot. Write in a personalized and private space that is free from distractions.

3 . Write every day! But don't over-complicate it... start with just 15-20 minutes per entry. When starting out, try journalling for 30 consecutive days. With consistency, it's easier to identify patterns in behavior.

4 . Schedule a time. Be realistic with a time of day that you can commit to. Early morning and late evenings are usually good times to focus and reflect on embracing a positive mindset.

5 . Give yourself time to reflect and centre yourself after writing. Reading back what you've put on paper will get you more clear on your thoughts and feelings.

6 . Be honest. You'll get more from this process when you practise complete honesty with your journal entries. Much like seeing a counsellor or therapist, the more honest you are, the more you will benefit.

7 . If you're writing to overcome trauma or depression, don't feel obligated to reflect on a specific traumatic event - write about the feelings in this moment.

8. Use journal prompts. If you struggle to pick just one particular topic to focus on, especially when the purpose is to overcome stress, try journal prompts for 30 days. Prompts will help you remain consistent and will invoke questions that you may not otherwise consider asking yourself.

9 . Regularly review your journal. One of the main purposes of keeping a journal is so you can reflect on your entries. You may identify patterns and highlight areas in your life that require attention. It's also valuable to see how far you have come in your mindset. It's nice to be reminded of our progress as it motivates us to keep growing.

10. Keep your journal close and private. A journal is one of the most personal objects you will ever own. It is for your eyes only - not your spouse, not your family or friends, and not even for your therapist. Some may choose to carry their journal with them, in which case we recommend to keep it locked. Having a special space for your journal when you're not using it, such as a nightstand, is also a nice way to keep your musings private.

Ready to get started?

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