It is hard for some people to be open about their troubles; they would rather take their issues to the grave than tell another soul.
Fortunately, there are other means through which they can vent and relieve stress without having to involve another person.
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It is said to be an efficient stress management tool. It helps the individual process difficult emotions and it improves personal growth. There are other health benefits that can be derived from journaling as well.
Studies show journaling increases cognitive functioning and the immune system. It also decreases symptoms of arthritis, asthma, and some other health conditions. Finally, it reduces the overall effects of stress by counteracting its negative impact on the individual.
The question now is, why are you not journaling again? Well, you might say you are unsure of where to start. These tips should steer you in the right direction.
Get a journal of your choice
This is you trying to put a lid on your stress triggers so get a book that suits your personality. You might want a very fancy functional notebook or just a plain old book with a very attractive design. Now you can choose to use a ballpoint pen or a fancier option.
What I am doing here is easing you into the process. Just do you and go with your own flow. Some might prefer to do digital journaling on their laptops or computers. That is also fine, so long as you are making a conscious effort to start.
Make time, not excuses
Excuses would lead you nowhere and may aggravate your stress. Find time to journal because that is the only way it will become habitual. Having some me time to put your thoughts on paper may seem like a daunting task for beginners.
The recommended time is twenty minutes but if it is too much for you, start with five minutes a day. It could be the first thing you do to set the day rolling or the last thing at night to put all worries to rest and reflect on the day’s activities.
Whichever way works for you, the important thing to note is, once it becomes habitual you will begin to feel much better. Look at your schedule and fix it in your day even if it’s during your lunch break.
There are no laid down rules to journaling. Just put pen to paper and write whatever comes to mind. Do not overthink. Once you start, your thoughts will pour through your words. However, if you need a nudge in the right direction, these ideas should help you start.
You could write about your dreams and aspirations and your fears.
- Career goals
- Things you are grateful for
- Evaluate your relationship with your family and friends
- How your day went at the office
- Your plans for the next two to five years
- Buried memories from childhood till now
- The best and worst moments in your life
- Your favorite thing to do with others and by yourself
- Your physical or mental health
Pour your emotions into your journal
Your journal is a safe space to vent. Bear in mind not to concentrate on only the negatives or just report events. Be vulnerable in your journal. Put down your feelings or how you emotionally respond to happenings in your life. For instance, you can recount a very traumatizing situation. Write how you felt at the time and how you wish you had reacted.
Make each session efficient by finding solutions and lessons from your issues and have an open perspective analyzing issues from all angles. Inasmuch as you are pouring your emotions on paper, be very critical and go easy on yourself. Remember it is a safe space.
This is bound to help because it is backed by research which says those who keep journals stand to get its full effect when they write about emotional issues from a mental and an emotional context.
Keep your journal from prying eyes
For fear of your thoughts becoming public knowledge, you might hold back in writing everything which will defeat the purpose of journaling. To avoid nullifying your efforts, keep your journal under lock and key. Buy a book with a lock or lock the book in a place known to you alone. If it’s on your computer or laptop, password protect the journal. All these are just to make you feel free and safe to write.
As mentioned earlier, there is no formula for journaling. So long as you are being honest with your feelings, and you are consistent with the writing, you will be fine. Do not hold back because you will be saving your mental and emotional health one session at a time with an assured result of calming your anxieties and relieving stress.