WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Are you stressed?
Do you struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance?
Are you running around from one thing to the next with barely a free minute to think clearly?
Or maybe you never stop thinking? You have one hundred thoughts racing through your head from the moment you wake up in the morning, to the moment your head hits the pillow at night.
In our modern-day society, we live fast-paced lives full of to-do lists, commitments and engagements. A long, long list of responsibilities, burdens and bills is considered normal.
The result of this speedy lifestyle is stress.
Prolonged stress over time causes illness. Stress can lead to mental, physical and emotional health problems that not only affect your own health and life but can affect the people who love you too.
MY EXPERIENCE OF THE BENEFITS OF JOURNALING FOR STRESS MANAGEMENT
My own stress crept up on me slowly. I had no idea I was stressed. I have always been a very calm person for the first 30 years of my life!
After the birth of my second child, I started to experience severe physical stress symptoms including painful digestive cramps. Painkillers wouldn’t help and I had to rely on years of experience of deep belly breathing and other breathwork techniques to manage the pain.
I also suffered from intrusive thoughts, specifically a very critical inner voice and self talk about how rubbish I was at the whole mother role!
Thoughts, emotions and behaviour are all linked according to the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Model (CBT model) and I found myself feeling lethargic and hopeless.
I had stopped prioritising myself. I had stopped the activities that brought me joy and relaxation in my role as a mum of 2 small children under 2 years.
I was racing around physically and mentally and spent no time at all processing my feelings or keeping track of my critical thoughts. I never sat down to eat a meal, and never celebrated my successes.
This ‘martyr mother’ attitude, as well as a lot of family stress and drama, contributed to my stress levels increasing. While they may not have been as high as other people experience, I was significantly more stressed than I had ever been in my life before. This led to my own body forcing me to slow down. I believe the body is intelligent and tries to communicate with us. The pain was a message for me to make a change.
I began to prioritise wellness activities like regular massage, a daily yoga and meditation practice and started to keep track of my thoughts and emotions. Negative, critical thoughts and feelings of lack of self-worth are very toxic to the mind, body and soul.
This is so important as parents. We need to look after ourselves from a holistic approach, mind, body and soul in order to be the best parent we can be to our children. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
The above activities helped me to slow down and once I had become used to the slower, relaxing pace as well as honouring myself and being kind to myself, I started making time to sit down and journal.
HOW TO GET STARTED WITH JOURNALING
This thoughts and feelings tracking technique is used in many different types of therapy. Journaling is powerful and creative.
The act of sitting down and free writing or using prompts and questions to inspire writing is hugely beneficial. Many people experience a sense of calm after 20 minutes of writing and journaling.
Emptying your thoughts and feelings onto a blank page can be very liberating and therapeutic.
It creates a sense of uncensored expression, and a ritual can be created around this practice.
A certain time and space are dedicated to journaling every day, perhaps with a hot drink, a special book to write in and a special pen. This ritual and routine encourages commitment to the practice and encourages you to maintain this habit.
If at first, you don’t know what to write or journal about. You can start with lists. List down your thoughts and feelings.
This can be an effective way to identify your thoughts and feelings which can feel strange and challenging to many in the beginning.
This list approach can help you see the link between your thoughts, feelings and behaviours for example you might notice that a certain situation, time of day or person causes you to feel a certain way.
It can lead to a valuable skill of more easily identifying your own desires and goals.
By writing these down, you are more likely to form a plan of action. This can help you to achieve those desires and goals in your life. You feel more empowered!
10 SURPRISING HEALTH BENEFITS OF JOURNALING
- Reduce symptoms of depression and sadness
- Decrease anxiety and stress
- Reduce intrusive, critical thoughts
- Reduce avoidance symptoms
- Improve your memory
- Improve your mood
- Helps identify your wants, needs and goals
- Provide clarity and insight
- Develop your relationship with your mind
- Strengthen your immune system with increased wellbeing experienced
THE LAST THING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Many people find writing challenging. Especially writing about thoughts and feelings. There is no judgement in this practice. All your thoughts and feelings are valid and accepted. The idea is that they are better processed out than in!
If writing with a pen feels foreign, you could try typing on a computer. Finally, if you find yourself distracted and staring at a blank page for 10 minutes there are many journals with specific questions to answer to help facilitate journaling. There are also gratitude journals which can help develop an attitude of gratitude and general positive outlook on life.
I strongly recommend journaling in some shape or form. For me, it was a game-changer and led to incredible self-awareness. I developed a relationship with my thoughts and feelings on another level.
Daily journaling is a practice. It is a way to cleanse and reset the mind in a way. Just like you wouldn’t take a shower on Monday morning and then think ‘OK I’ve done that now. I don’t need to shower again,’ the same mindset applies to any habit which cleanses the mind.
It is a daily practice.
Thank you for reading!
So I’m curious.
Are you stressed? Do you journal?
I’d love to know. Email Niomi: [email protected]