As a caregiver, journaling can be an extremely beneficial self-help tool. Many people may initially think that they don’t have time to commit to journaling (your lives are already too busy!) but it really can be simple process. Journaling doesn’t have to take a lot of time or resources and can really make an impact on your health and wellbeing.
There are many real health benefits to recording your thoughts in writing including:
- Relieving stress.
- Removing mental blocks,
- Improving problem solving skills.
- Coming to terms more easily with difficult things going on in your life.
Benefits of journaling
Writing down feelings, frustrations and worries, is an opportunity to relieve some of the negative feelings you may be having. Writing things down can release some of the intensity of the emotions you are feeling so you can feel calmer and less stressed. It’s an emotional release. Journaling can also combat feelings of loneliness and isolation by giving you someone to talk to. It’s a way to express feelings without worrying about being judged or how someone else is going to respond back to you. Journaling also helps you feel and deal with your emotions rather than burying them which can have a lot of negative consequences. There is tremendous healing power when you express your emotions through writing. An article in Psychology Today states that writing about your difficulties and experiences allows you to feel happier and less anxious. It even gives you an increased ability to set and achieve goals.
There is no right or wrong way to journal. It can be as simple as using a notebook and pen and writing down whatever comes to mind for 20 minutes each day. For those that prefer a little more structure or guidance there are guided journals available that include exercises and suggested topics. A blog is another form of journaling. Although more public, its benefit is the chance to interact and connect with readers. Most blogs are free and easy to set up; Tumblr, Blogger or Penzu are just a few out there. Other ideas could include keeping a gratitude journal, a dream diary or a memory log about the loved one you are caring for. The options for journaling are actually endless. The most important thing is to choose a format with which you are comfortable with, and not to get intimidated by the process.
Tips for the writing process
- Find a quiet place. This may not always be possible. You may end up writing in a noisy doctor’s office because that is when you have a few minutes to spare. But having your own writing place may allow you to be more free and make the process more natural.
- Journal daily. Make a pact with yourself that you are going to devote a few minutes each day to this important activity.
- Just write. You do not need to worry about spelling, punctuation and grammar or even writing full sentences.
- Write freeform. Draw, doodle, write down recipes, lyrics whatever comes into your head.
- Be honest. You are writing for yourself and no one else.
- Stay open. Don’t set limits on how much or how little you are going to write each time.
- Keep it close. If possible carry the journal with you at all times. You never know when you will find a spare moment to write.
For those that may be intimidated by the blank page, This article from TinyBuddha has lots of great, detailed tips for getting starting the process. The American Heart Association also provides some nice caregiver journal pages to help give some direction and focus. No matter what method you choose for journaling or how you go about, the health benefits to your physical and emotional health are real and powerful. It’s something simple you can do for yourself – so why not start journaling today?
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