There are so many things that stress us out these days: our jobs, our relations with people, our busy lives in general. Sometimes even a cluttered email inbox can make us feel frustrated, especially if we have too many tasks upon our heads already.
While there are so many causes of stress, there aren’t actually as many ways to relieve it in a healthy way. Sure, things like yoga and meditation do help, but they often require either time (to visit yoga class, for example) or necessary environment (it could be hard to meditate in a noisy flat, after all).
But there is one thing that is just as effective for stress relieve yet much simpler: journal writing. While it does require some time to spend on, it doesn’t need anything else from you. Besides a pen and a paper, of course.
How exactly does journal writing help?
One of the best ways to solve or a problem (or at least to formulate your attitude towards a problem) is to talk about it. Even a therapy that helps so many people is basically just a form of talking – yet it is extremely effective.
But talking isn’t always achievable at the moment – and that’s when journaling comes to help. Instead of pouring your heart out to the others, you can do it on a paper. Sure, this way you won’t get any feedback – however, it still could help you ease the stress a bit.
When you write about something that bothers you, you are able to sort things out a bit in the process. For example, by formulating the problem you might come up with certain solutions of it. By expressing your frustration about certain people you are able to calm down a bit without having to take it on on these people. And what’s most important is that you can able to get these thoughts and emotions out of your head. This is similar to list writing and taking notes: once you write something down, you won’t have to keep it in your head anymore.
Moreover, a journal can be a great tool for further reflection. If you keep it and reread it from time to time, you might be able to spot some patterns in your behavior as well as situations you would like to avoid in the future. Of course, it isn’t recommended to re-read your journal often: do it once in a couple of months or once in a half of year, for example.
How to start journaling?
It might seem obvious: buy a pen and a notebook (or use your laptop if it seems more convenient to you – and start writing). However, it’s not that simple for many of us.
If you never tried journaling before, you might struggle with the process a lot. There are plenty of people who simply don’t know what to write about, how long they should write, and so on. So let’s make this clear for them.
The most important thing you need to remember is that journal writing has to be as comfortable as possible. If you enjoy the process so much that you spend a whole hour or more writing – continue doing so. However, if a half an hour of writing seems unbearable, don’t force yourself, otherwise, you risk actually increasing your stress level instead of decreasing it.
There are also some additional tips that could make this even easier:
1. Schedule some time for journal writing. For example, promise yourself that you’re going to write for 15 minutes straight every morning or every evening. Don’t hesitate to adjust this schedule to the one you find more comforting and useful;
2. Start with writing about what happens to your life now, from the circumstances you’re in to things that bother you the most;
3. Remember that your journal isn’t a book. It’s totally okay to repeat yourself, pay no attention to your style, make mistakes, and so on. Your point is exploring yourself, not writing a proper literature piece or describing the most controversial narrative essay topics, so do your best to turn your inner critic off;
4. Don’t show your writing to the others. If you’re prepared to demonstrate your writing to someone else, you won’t be completely honest in the process;
5. While describing your life is important, don’t forget about the analysis part. Always write about how you’re feeling about certain things and if you don’t know the answer, keep trying to find it.
For some of us, journal writing is a whole ritual – people even have special playlist they turn on while writing. For others, journal writing is simply a quick way to get a certain burden off their shoulders. However, no matter what your case is, don’t forget how important it is to write mindfully and to analyze everything you write.