I am a “keeper of journals”…..there is something in the process of writing my reflections….thoughts, feelings, good and bad things in life, challenges, successes….that clears my mind, opens my heart, and shakes me out of almost any form of negativity. It ALSO affords a beginning way to face into and feel grief and loss…and sometimes intense anger and confusion about myself and the people in my life….even about the people I never see or know but hear and see much about in media. It’s CENTERING. And it REDUCES STRESS.
I make an effort to get clients and workshop participants, and audiences for my talks to consider journaling. I meet with limited success. Some people just don’t get it. Some think it’s a waste of time or that they don’t HAVE time. Some are fearful someone else will read what they’ve written. That is such a serious roadblock for some people that they do write and either hide the journal or get a friend to keep it. I’ve had clients leave what they’ve written in my office for safe keeping. But that level of fear of invasion of privacy is another topic for another time!
If you have never written in a journal, just ask yourself what keeps you from considering it? And if it’s never been suggested to you, at least think about trying it.
Here’s what research tells us: when you write down goals — financial, wellness, work related aspirations — the likelihood of making them HAPPEN is dramatically increased. Maybe a business plan on paper is obvious. But what about your self care goals — like diet, exercise, meditation; the amount of money you want to make and/or put away each month; your fantasy AND details about the kind of significant other you are searching for; and generally, where you want to head in life in the next 1 to 5 years. Writing increases the possibility of goals becoming a reality.
And on a different level, writing is a positive and healthy way to process pain and disappointment and stress in general. You get it out of your head and on paper. It gives your mind, that keeps holding on and ruminating, a chance to relax and let go. I think a great vehicle is to write a letter to a person — living or dead — you have problems with. It’s a letter you KEEP. It’s NOT a letter to deliver! It’s a letter you use to process and let go of built up anger, hurt, grief, sadness. And it’s a HARD process. In fact, if you have strong feelings just reading about trying this suggestion, ask a professional you either see or know if it’s a good idea for you or discuss with a close confident you have faith in.
I’ve also discovered that introverts are more likely to write in a journal than extroverts. I am guessing that’s because introverts need more solitude and then are likely to have more quiet time to reflect; and extroverts want more interaction with others so people and activities and conversations are more likely the priority than sitting alone and writing.
The one thing I can tell you is that regardless of introversion/extroversion, journal writing is a great stress reducer. Writing out answers to questions about life does a world of good! In both my most recent books, I’ve emphasized journal writing….and for sure, I recommend answering all the questions I pose in both YOUR PERSONAL STRESS ANALYSIS and WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? MAYBE NOT THAT MUCH. You can find both books on Amazon or on my website.
If you are stressed, and most of us are, just try writing and see if you experience a little bit of relief. End each journal entry with a list of at least 5 things you feel grateful for, and you’ll find a positive up swing in your mood! You’ll feel you’ve emptied out a big portion of your trash compactor….and you’ll just be a little more grateful to be alive, even if you ARE stressed!