Journaling is an effective way to reduce stress. Getting your ideas, thoughts and fears out of your head and onto paper is an understated achievement. In fact, The University of Rochester says journaling can help you: manage anxiety, reduce stress, cope with depression and so much more.
This post is going to focus specifically on how to journal for stress relief. Stress is essentially a silent killer and can lead to major health issues. It’s important to be mentally healthy in order to maintain physical health and remain in control of yourself on a day to day basis.
Many of you who will read this may already be journaling. Some of you may think journaling may not be for you. Before you make that assumption, read this post and maybe we’ll be able to change your mind. Give it a chance, it may possibly change your life.
Journaling tips for stress relief
1.Make it a habit, strive to make journaling a habit. Do it every day. Every. Single. Day. We all know that whatever you do, if you make it a habit to do it every day, it becomes more effective over time. It’s the same thing with journaling.
To get the most out of this tip, make it a habit to journal. As soon as you come home from work, campus, a long day etc. take 5 minutes to sit down and journal. Often times we make up excuses as to why we can’t do something when the real reason is, we just don’t feel like it. Make time for your mental, your body will thank you.
2. Put everything on paper, did you have a run in with your professor? With your annoying boss? With your best friend? Write about it. It makes no sense to hold on to negativity, let it go. When you journal, you are literally taking the thoughts from your mind and releasing them onto the page. Freeing yourself of these experiences.
Have you ever felt like there are things you need to talk about but no one would understand? Put that in your journal. Write about all the things that you may be too afraid to say out loud and all the things that you feel people may judge you for.
3. Make it fun, no really, have fun! Go to different stores and find a cute journal that you know you would enjoy writing in every day. Buy different color pens, highlighters and stickers so you can tell a story using different colors and various stickers. There are stickers that are specifically for crafts and journaling. You can also color code the moods you are feeling. Maybe when you highlight/write things in yellow it symbolizes feelings of happiness and red may indicate that you were angry or mad with someone or something.
4. Write it down no matter how small, isn’t it crazy how you may feel a certain way about something and someone will turn around and have the audacity to tell you how you should feel? Never allow anyone to make your feelings seem smaller than what they really are. With that being said, treat your journal as your safe place. No feeling is too small, too big or too anything for that matter. If someone asked you to move down one seat and that pissed you off, guess what? You have every right to feel that way. Write it down, express how you felt on those pages.
Life is hard enough. Every time you turn around, people are trying to tell you that you aren’t enough and why you aren’t enough. There are so many examples of what your life should look like and if you don’t have the latest bag or the latest shoes, you must not be happy. This couldn’t be farther from the truth for some people. The key take away for this point is, never allow others to dictate your feelings. Your feelings are valid.
5. Make it easy, journaling doesn’t have to be hard and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Do whatever feels natural, do whatever feels right for you. There’s no need to think long and hard about what needs to be written down. Just let the words flow through you. Remember the previous tip, your feelings are valid.
6. Keep track of your progress, it’s important to keep track of your journaling process to see what is working and what is not. The first thing that you want to do is keep track of the days you successfully sit down and journal. Keep track of the benefits, do you feel lighter and happier when you release your negative thoughts onto the page? Do you journal best as soon as you come home or after a long shower when you are feeling a little more relaxed? These things will help you to see where you can improve and what is working vs what isn’t working.
7. Write down your triggers, through your journaling journey you may begin to notice certain patterns. You may realize that there are specific things that make you happy and there are things that literally piss you off. Recognizing these things will help you when you are sad and want to cheer yourself up. It’ll help you when you learn what makes you mad so you can avoid it, try to correct it or recognize it when it comes up.
8. Take time for reflection, we challenge you to look back through your journal at the end of every week. One of the reasons we recommend this is because sometimes we feel certain emotions and have no idea where they came from. You wake up on a Saturday angry but you totally forgot about the conflict you had on Monday. Reflect on the week and take the time to read through and analyze each day.
9. Make peace with yourself, no one can see themselves fully. Some of us have barriers and huge egos so we are unable to see the role we played in a situation that went totally left. As you analyze the situations you’ve been in during the week (if any) you may being to realize that you are the problem. You’ll begin to see that when you have a bad day, you may say things you don’t mean to the people you love and to people who mean well. You may really be the sweetest person in the world but because you were having a bad day, you said some hurtful things. If it weren’t for you journaling the highlights of each day, you probably would never notice. Make peace with yourself and reach out to the person you hurt if you can.
10. Change as needed, those who are new to journaling may take these tips and run with them. Here’s a tip, if something is not working for you, feel free to stop doing it or tailor it to your specific needs. No need to become frustrated just do what’s best for you.
11. Buy new items, once you really get into journaling, go to the store often and buy different stickers and seek out different colors on a regular basis. Make going to the store kind of like a date. Take your time and browse through the aisles to find exactly what you are looking for.
12. Set the scene journaling does not have to be boring! Set the scene for a stress free environment. Light some of your favorite candles and play classical music or rain sounds to make it even more relaxing.
How to get the most out of these tips
First, we hope these tips have helped you in some way shape or form. Remember, these tips are only a guideline and you do not have to follow all of them. Figure out what works for you so you can implement the best tips to fit your needs. In the event you find yourself following these tips and they are not working for you, change course. And the ones that are working for you, stick with them. Consistency and patience is key. Your journey is unique to you so stay away from comparing yourself to other people.