We all know stress affects our health in negative ways. Here’s one positive thing you can do to help yourself. Yes, even you, non-writer.
I know, I know. You’re already telling yourself that you like reading not writing. And maybe you’re argument is that it’s easy for us writers to jump on the Journaling bandwagon But I have a secret. I sometimes don’t feel like writing either, even journaling. I mean, who wants to deal with their feelings? And that’s what I’m talking about here: Dealing with feelings.
No matter how long you put off something, it seems to creep up no matter how much you bury it. I should know as I’m the queen of pushing down my emotions. With our world feeling a bit like the end of days, we all have a ton of emotional stuff churning around inside us. Journaling is an outlet, and we all need one of those.
It helps alleviate stress. Some is good, like the stress of writing a new book or training for a marathon, studying for that next test. Whatever you do in your life that lifts you in some way also creates a little bit of stress in your life, and that’s okay. The good stress puts one foot in front of the other, allowing us to move forward with purpose.
I’m not talking about doing away with good stress. I’m talking about the stuff that eats at us from the inside out, creating health problems, both mental and physical. If you take twenty minutes a day and journal, you’ll keep the doctors away a little longer.
Bad stress sticks to your heart, making it more cumbersome than it should be. You all know the stress I mean. I don’t know about you, but most of the stuff I worry about I can’t change, like the covid-19 virus. There isn’t anything I can do about it, other than staying home as much as possible, wearing a mask, gloves, and sanitize everything a gazillion times, including myself. But none of those things will make the virus disappear for good. I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure only a vaccine can erase it for good. Of course, covid-19 is just one example. I use it because it’s the one stress we all have in common at the moment. Pick your poison, though. Money, interpersonal relationships, health problems, other dangers in the world…the list goes on. For some of us, it’s so long all we want to do is stay in bed with our heads under the covers.
So I’m not saying journaling will solve all your problems and you’ll live in the land of rainbows and unicorns. What I am saying is that journaling may help you figure out where you sit emotionally with everything in your life. Just like talking to a therapist, journaling is a way to problem solve those things you can change. It allows you to line up the steps and problem solve. One stressor less lightens your load.
So how will it help the things you can’t change? I’m glad you asked.
Let’s face it. If there is ever a time where our stressors turn into a deeper mental issue, it’s right now. Depression and anxiety are real things. I’ve suffered from both for most of my life. Between my children leaving home last fall, my mother’s cancer diagnosis (it isn’t looking good for her, and that’s something I can’t change), the pandemic, and social injustice my mental health is taking a beating. I can’t change any of the things I just listed. At least not all by myself, and my mom dying, not at all. I wish I was a wizard and could erase them all, making it good for all of us. Maybe that’s a childish thought, but I would if I could.
I know you have stressors as well, and some are affecting your mental health too. What you can do is prioritize and organize your thoughts through journaling. Writing stuff down helps you recognize triggers and gives you an outlet to vent. You’ll learn how better to respond to the negative things in your life, so the stress is easier to manage.
So yes, we all have our problems. Some you can change, and some you can’t. That’s how life rolls. It’s how you deal with it that affects you the most. Journaling can improve your quality of life. It’s a way to organize the jumbled-up mess that is your mind, and that organization can lead to improved mental health.
April Kelley is an author of LGBT Romance. Her works include The Journey of Jimini Renn, which was a Rainbow Awards finalist, Whispers of Home, the Saint Lakes series, and over thirty more.