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Digging Deep: How Writing Can Ease Stress & Improve Your Life

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When we’re experiencing stress, anxiety, or pain, it’s tempting to do everything we can to numb it. We watch our favorite TV show, go shopping, or see friends. What if instead of looking outside of ourselves for healing and comfort we were able to look inwards? Journaling can help with personal growth and development. The act of regularly recording our thoughts and feelings helps us to understand ourselves better, and helps us to gain insight into our behaviors and moods.

Anne Frank, Anaïs Nin, and Harry Truman are just a few of the many people whose journals have gone on to capture events and time periods in a way that have helped to personalize them and have served as inspiration for others. Journals can be a way for us to connect with loved ones, they can be something we choose to pass along to a child or grandchild, or something we keep private.

If you’re interested in starting your own journal but aren’t sure where to begin, here are several ways you can get started:

  1. Start by giving a snapshot of your life right now by answering some of the following questions:
  2. Keep a running list of your accomplishments - Big and small. By listing your accomplishments day after day, week after week, you are building a foundation for positive self-esteem. Knowing that you will be keeping track of it can even serve as further encouragement to take action to accomplish more.
     
  3. Catalogue nature-inspired reflections each day. Did you notice the way that the sun reflected perfectly on that snow-covered plant in your backyard? Did you witness a beautiful sunset on your drive home from work? Focusing on the beauty of the moment and of nature itself can help encourage feelings of peace and can help you be more mindful.
     
  4. Take note of things that get you hopeful or excited each day. Whether it’s the title of a book your coworker couldn’t put down, a new song you heard and can’t stop singing, or something a friend or loved one said to you, make sure to write it down in your daily journal. Keeping track of these things can be a helpful reminder of better days to come when you’re having a tough day.
     

Journaling isn’t a substitute for professional help. If you are struggling with symptoms of a mental health disorder, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. Keeping a journal often complements therapy and can serve as a teaching tool for introspection and improved wellness.


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