What do you usually do when you feel overwhelmed with stressful thoughts and emotions?
Some healthy ways to reduce stress are reaching out to friends or family, exercising, taking a relaxing bath, or going to sleep earlier.
However, people often turn to less healthy behaviors to relieve stress. Some of those are drinking too much alcohol, emotional eating, wasting time on social media, smoking, or taking drugs.
One of the practical and underrated tools for stress management is journaling. Numerous studies have shown the powerful effects of journaling on both mental and physical health.
Journaling can reduce stress by giving you more clarity, releasing negative emotions, and helping you with problem-solving. Writing can also improve your sleep, increase your self-confidence, and improve your mood and energy.
Journaling can be used as a tool for self-reflection and personal growth. Additionally, it allows you to keep your memories recorded for years to come.
What is journaling?
Journaling is the act of writing down your thoughts and feelings regarding your life events.
You create written records of your life journey experiences.
In addition to recording your life experiences, journaling allows you to reflect on those experiences.
By exploring thoughts and feelings about different events in your life, you can gain valuable self-knowledge and grow as a person.
Journaling can also help better understand your anxieties, fears, values, desires, and aspirations.
This simple practice gives you mental clarity and lets you see your life’s bigger picture. When you write about the issues you face, you can transfer the problem from your mind to the paper and gain more mental clarity and focus.
Journaling can help you better understand your feelings and release them quicker when dealing with intense emotions or confusion.
What to write about
You can journal about anything and everything that’s on your mind.
Some topics you can write about are daily events, experiences, people, memories, new ideas, insights, perspectives, and aspirations, to name a few.
You can use a journal to explore your emotions. When you write, you’re essentially having an in-depth conversation with yourself. You can gain a deeper insight into your behavior and better understand your feelings.
You can explore the triggers of specific emotions, which can help you better control or respond to those triggers in the future.
Writing down your worries and fears can make them go away or significantly lessen them. As you journal, you can gain a new perspective on a problem and find new ways to solve it.
Journaling is also a great way to practice gratitude. When dealing with anxiety, sadness, or anger, it can be hard to see what is going well in your life. Writing down several things you appreciate and feel thankful for can shift your perspective and improve your mood.
You can use a journal to write your to-do list. Just writing all tasks down relieves the stress of having to remember everything. Once you’ve written down the items you need to complete, you don’t need to continue thinking about them.
You can also write about your life vision and goals. Life vision reflects where you want to be in one, three, five, and ten years. It captures what kind of person you want to become and describes every aspect of your personal and professional life.
While journaling about your goals, you can get insights into the best actions that move you towards the life of your dreams. You can reflect on your progress weekly, monthly, or quarterly, adjust your initial plans, and set up new aspirations.
How to start journaling
All you need to start journaling is a piece of paper, a pen, and a willingness to write for five to ten minutes.
You might want to get a special notebook for journaling. However, if you are concerned that somebody might find your journal and read it, use a piece of paper and destroy it once you are done with writing.
If you don’t like writing by hand, you might consider keeping an electronic journal.
You can write in the mornings, during your lunch break, or in the evenings, whatever time better fits your schedule.
Ideally, you want to write every day. Practically, try to write as often as you can. Even if you write once a week or once a month when you deal with a challenging situation, it can help tremendously.
When unsure what to write about, start with writing down three things you feel grateful for.
You might also consider getting a journal with build-in prompts that provide you with questions to inspire reflection.
Next time you feel overwhelmed with stressful thoughts, grab your journal and spend some time writing. You’ll be surprised how journaling can change your life.
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