The following are some of the more effective ways in which to use a journal for emotional stress relief. As you read them, think about which situations in your life bring the most stress, and which journaling techniques may work the best in helping you to get a handle on that stress. You may want to try the various types of journaling for a few days each, and see what works best for you.
Write About Your Emotions"Getting it all out on paper" is one of the most effective and cathartic forms of journaling. The idea is to write about what is happening in your life that is causing the stress, and to pay special attention to your emotions surrounding these events. Write about what you are feeling, and why. This can provide you with clarity and emotional release, and help you to process your emotions in a healthy way.
This type of journaling can enable you to let go of things that are bothering you, so if you are prone to rumination, this is a helpful technique to try. It can also be helpful if you are experiencing anxiety, anger, frustration, or other negative emotions and are not sure why. Read more about how to process emotions on paper, move beyond negative feelings, and find release through emotion-focused journaling.
Brainstorm SolutionsOne of the more practical journaling techniques to try involves brainstorming solutions to problems you face. This technique is particularly useful if you are feeling overwhelmed by the stressors in your life, are preoccupied with problems you face, or simply want to move on from negative feelings and find a way to move forward.
This type of journaling can leave you feeling empowered, solution-focused, and able to move forward. Solution-focused journaling helps you to become more aware of your options and resources, so it can relieve stress not only because it can help you to manage the stressors you face, but because it can help you to feel less overwhelmed by them. It can help you to maintain a more internal locus of control.
Read more about how brainstorming and solution-focused journaling can help, and about ways in which you can practice this type of journaling for stress relief.
Identify Positives And Lessons LearnedSometimes a shift in perspective can create a significant relief of stress. When we go through something difficult, it can feel much less stressful if we know that some good has come from our struggles. We can get into this frame of mind through journaling by identifying and exploring the additional wisdom we have gained from our stressful situations.
Focusing on what we have gained from the challenges we face, even if we do not experience the outcomes we would prefer (or rather, especially if we don't see the outcomes we'd like) can relieve stress in a couple of different ways. First, focusing on what we have gained can remind us some good things have come from our difficult times; as previously mentioned, this can help the experience feel more positive and less stressful. Second, focusing on our newfound strengths and wisdom can help us to feel stronger and more comfortable in facing similar challenges in the future: we know we have increased resources to face the challenges that come our way, which can relieve stress as well.
This type of thinking does not always come naturally, but the practice of journaling with a mind toward benefit-finding can help it to become more of an ingrained mental habit. This can make all challenges feel less stressful as we face them. Here are some tips to get you started with journaling with an eye toward the benefits to be found in life's challenges.
Focus On GratitudeMaintaining a gratitude journal is something that many people do, and for good reason. Gratitude as a feeling can be a stress reliever in itself, but cultivating this state of mind through journaling can bring a significant and lasting shift in your state of mind. Gratitude journaling can help us to savor the good things that happen, shift our focus away from the negatives in life, and can leave us with a record of the best things that have happened in each day. The practice is so beneficial for mood that it has even been proven to lift depression!
Gratitude journaling is simple, and can be a quick practice. It is best to maintain a regular gratitude journal, writing in it during the best of times as well as during the worst. These tips can help you to build your gratitude journaling practice in ways that are easiest to maintain and most beneficial for your overall outlook.
Vision Board JournalingThis type of journaling, which tends to become a mix between scrapbooking and journaling, can help you get in touch with your hopes and dreams, and flesh out a few goals. Here you can fill your pages with ideas and descriptions of what you would like to have more of in your life. Creating a vision board can meet this end as well, but creating a vision board journal allows you to be more private (it doesn't have to go on display, after all) and more prolific (you can generally fit more ideas in a journal than on a single page, even if that page is a poster). Here are some tips on maintaining a vision board journal. You can also maintain a shareable online version by using Pinterest.