A Stress Diary: The Benefits of Journaling For Stress Management
Some people might scoff at the idea of journaling for stress management. However, the simple act of journaling has been well studied around the world. Many researchers have found that journaling not only helps you organize your thoughts, but helps you manage your emotions better.
According to an article from Harvard Health Publishing 2020, writing about thoughts and feelings from stressful situations a person may experience, called expressive writing, may help some individuals better cope from that particular event.
Journaling as such, may not be the total cure for situations that arise, but it can be another intervention to help get you through or cope in a more effective, healthy way. Using it along with other therapies or practices such as yoga, meditation, breathing practices, a balanced diet, and proper sleep may also contribute to better coping mechanisms.
This can be a powerful way of helping to manage your overall mental health, however like many things when it comes to mental health, consistency is important as well as consulted a medical expert.
While routine journaling can seem tedious. A number of health professionals recommend getting into the habit of keeping a journal daily. The effects are not immediately obvious, but over time you may find that it helps manage anxiety, reduce stress and better cope with depression.
Benefits of Journaling For Stress Management:
You Can Reduce Negative Thinking
Constant negative thinking can be a cause of stress. A flurry of negative thoughts can set your mind and body into a stress-induced tailspin. One study on journaling and adolescents looked at whether writing down and expressing their thoughts prior to an exam could improve performance. The group of students who specifically wrote about their feelings related to the exam outperformed students who simply wrote about, "test content they believed would be on the exam" prior to the test.
Several studies have explored this particular effect of journaling on negative thinking and stress. Researchers have concluded that people who journal for stress management may have the ability to think more clearly and less negatively.
Reasons for the improved symptoms and mood are contributed to stress journaling's ability to help prioritize problems and concerns, positive self-talk, as well as tracking symptoms so that way way we can better recognize triggers of stress, and how to better cope.
You Will Learn How To Solve Your Problems
Journaling not only makes your headspace more agreeable and healthy, but it also helps improve your ability to think through your own problems, by allowing us to clarify our thoughts and feelings. When we're stressed, it is often difficult to come up with good solutions to difficult issues. It's hard to find that "clarity". It forces us to focus on internal awareness, and look within ourselves and really explore our emotions.
Going over your experiences each day, and analyzing what events take place is beneficial for your problem-solving abilities. As you learn to compress memories into bite-size journal entries, you'll be able to understand yourself and your circumstances with far better accuracy and clarity, because of the constant look within yourself.
Barbara Markway, Ph.D. states that "there is simply no better way to learn about thought process than to write them down".
This is one of the main benefits of journaling for stress management. Not only are you engaging with negative thoughts and emotions, but you're also exercising your cognitive muscles to learn how to better cope and solve your day-to-day struggles.
Your Physical Health Will Improve
Stress is not just experienced mentally. Stress is a full-body experience that puts a strain on both the mind and the physical-self. Small amounts of stress is a relatively normal experience for every human being, however chronic stress and poor coping strategies over-time can create health issues both short and long term. This includes, but is not limited to, things like weakened immune system, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and low sex-drive.
Stress can also cause inflammation in the body which can worsen existing disease. When you better control your stress with journaling, any number of health conditions can be improved, in addition to lowering your risk for future chronic illness.
An article from Cambridge University Press, discusses that short term expressive writing may lead to a "brief" increase in distress and negative emotions, as well as physical symptoms. However, longer term health outcomes include reduced blood pressure, improved lung function, less doctors visits, and better immune function, let alone all the mental health improvements.
You Can Release Pent Up Emotions More Easily
The fact is it's sometimes difficult to express ourselves in this modern era, but we do have more outlets to release stressful and turbulent emotions than probably ever before. It isn’t always easy sharing your struggles, online or in person. This is why journaling can be so powerful in regards to reducing stress.
Moreover then the positive physical benefits of journaling come the long term mental health benefits like; improved mood/affect, feeling of greater psychological well-being, improved memory and even better grades.
Yes, it may be hard at first to write down your thoughts, as maybe you feel like you're reliving the moment, however, this is actually an opportunity for you to release pent up negative emotions. This is giving you another avenue to release stress in your life.
It Helps You Feel More Balanced And Happy
Journaling naturally enhances your mood and makes you feel happier. This is due to the effects of emotional release. The act of writing down thoughts, emotions, and the causes of stress, is a cathartic relief. Like mentioned above it's another release channel. It's a way to create order when your own world feels chaotic.
Feeling more balanced is a cascade effect of everything we talked about above. Reducing stress, relieving anxious feelings, releasing negative emotions, positive self-talk, prioritizing, facing your problems, identifying triggers, planning etc.
The point here is to now empower yourself, learn to see your life in a different way and from a new perspective. This to us, is when you can truly take hold of your life and redefine the way in which you live and react to it!
It creates a connection to yourself that unlocks your ability to grow and become more balanced as a person. It's time to focus on your emotions and not run from them!
How Can You Start Journaling For Stress
Management & Final Thoughts!
There are no absolute rules when it comes to journaling. Journaling can take place during any time of the day, and the content of your writing is entirely up to you. You can recount your day, come up with a list of positive and negative events, or even write down long term goals and plans. The possibilities of journaling for stress management are endless.
As long as you stay consistent, and
actively try to interact with your stress and emotional issues, you
can successfully improve your overall well-being through stress-journaling!
Happy "feel-good" writing!