This Era of Covid 19 has left many of us in a slump and feeling a bit out of sorts. From battling the unknown at the onset of this pandemic; to dealing with uncertainty, harsh lockdowns worldwide, curfews, job/business losses, testing, wearing masks, getting vaccines, and the like, our heads are still spinning. What started as doom and gloom can finally offer us a light at the end of the tunnel.
No doubt, this experience has taken a toll on us all. We need to reflect and process how this whole ordeal has changed us. Keeping in tune with our thoughts and emotions not only works wonders for our mental health but also our physical and emotional well-being. Let us look at journaling as a tool for stress release.
Journaling: The key to unlocking your quality of Life
One of the most therapeutic tools to achieve this is journaling. Hold on! I know what you´re going to say. I´m not a teenager anymore. You don´t have to be! Journaling is an act that takes place from the inside out.
The dictionary describes journaling as a personal record of occurrences, experiences, and daily reflections. But how can a task that doesn´t require much time (15 minutes) of deep thoughts and reflections have any effect on your life?
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Journaling allows you to set goals and improves your quality of life. It is a great way to clear your head and make important connections between your thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns.
Journaling allows you to recognize unhealthy patterns and guides you to confront emotions associated with them. It is especially helpful for people suffering from trauma or PTSD better known as a post-traumatic stress disorder.
Journaling involves analytical thinking from the rational left side of the brain therefore, while your left side is preoccupied, your right hemisphere now has the freedom to roam and explore.
Benefits of journaling
It´s a scientific fact that effective journaling is a good habit that lessens the impact of physical stressors on your health.
Excess stress can be destructive to your physical, emotional, and mental health and can negatively affect many organs in your body. If stress is not dealt with effectively, it can open the door to many illnesses, depression, and even mental illness.
One study showed that journaling for only 15-20 minutes a day over a four-month period was enough to lower blood pressure, improve liver function, and reduce headaches.
Heartburn, Asthma, and other breathing-related problems (rapid breathing or shortness of breath) were lowered.
It can lead to a decrease in digestive issues, insomnia, and muscle problems, and even help with menstrual abnormalities with excessive bleeding and pain. The list of health problems associated with excess stress goes on and on. It also plays a vital role in reducing anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
Another study showed that patients who journaled for two weeks before a medically necessary biopsy were fully healed 11 days later, unlike 58% of the control participants (those that did not keep a journal) who did not recover in that time frame.
The conclusion is that even by investing a minimal amount of time in journaling: the participants were able to make sense of events in their lives, thereby reducing stress and allowing their bodies to heal quickly and journaling was very therapeutic for them.
Effective journaling can improve your quality of life. You reach a wide range of goals when you clear your head and make vital connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
It enables your creativity to flourish, boosts your mood, enhances your sense of well-being, reduces symptoms of depression, is helpful for those with PTSD or a history of trauma, and assists in processing painful events (exposes negative emotions associated with traumatic memories).
For severe PTSD or trauma please speak to your physician for the right course of action for you.
Journaling is not a difficult task as it does not require a big-time commitment on your part. It takes 15 minutes or less. And it can be enjoyable. You can sit quietly with a cup of coffee or tea with your journal and dive into the sea of thoughts in your mind.
Tips for effective journaling
Find a quiet place to write. Make sure you give yourself enough time to write. Write at your leisure do not force it.
Put all distractions away such as your cell phone. Focus solely on journaling and try not to multitask at that moment. Make a habit of journaling regularly.
Your journal is for your private use. You can write in a secret language that only you can understand. For those who are bi or multi-lingual, you can write in another language of your choice. You can even start a sentence in one language and finish in another, to throw people off if they were to come upon your journal by chance.
You can also use the WRITE acronym to direct you.
W-What should your writing entail? You let your mind dictate what it wants to focus on, and don´t overthink or put up resistance.
R- Review and reflect on negative experiences. Do you remember how it started? Or the contributing factors that lead to them?
I-Investigate your feelings. How did you feel? Did you over or under-react?
T-Time yourself to see if you are on track to your target time.
E-End strategically with introspection. Find the food for thought moments.
Read, reflect, and then summarize your observations, thoughts, feelings, and emotions, in a few sentences. For example, `As I read this… I notice, I realize … Conclude by constructing next steps scenarios for yourself.
Think of journaling as having a deep relationship with your mind. Discover and unravel the mysteries that are buried deep within you.
Journaling can allow you to reflect, recognize, and deal with unhealthy feelings and thoughts. Journaling can be very effective for stress management. It´s like purging your mind of toxins.
Journaling allows you to take action and make necessary changes that are vital for growth. It can also allow you to release negative thoughts and feelings and can give you the courage and strength to move on.
Decide to make a habit of journaling today! Start the process of changing your life for the better.
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