When you’re sad, mad, frustrated…, it can be hard to tell what will make you feel better. Maybe you want someone who will just listen without being too nosy, or you might tell yourself distractions like ice cream or TV will soothe, but sometimes, what we really need is time alone to write. This article gives you some tips on how to use writing as a self-care tool.
Throughout my life, I have often used writing as a tool to work through difficulties, make better decisions, and express myself more fully and honestly than I could talking in person.
Shrek was right! People are like onions, covered under layers of expectations, fears, past traumas, pretenses… The act of writing thoughts down is beneficial for a few reasons beyond just getting our thoughts out. When we write our thoughts and feelings down on paper, it gives us a chance to pause and creates the necessary distance to uncover what we are actually feeling, making it easier to identify the root of issues. Logical fallacies and hurried conclusions reveal themselves as we put ink to them.
Many think of writing as a chore—something they struggle to do for school/work—but when you journal-write for yourself, it’s therapeutic, rewarding and insightful. Journaling is a way to get in touch with your thoughts, feelings, and struggles without the fear of judgement.
There is an old saying that says, “you cannot see the world for what it is, only for what you are.” It means that our actions are responses to how we perceive the world. The stories we tell ourselves every day have a huge impact on our lives. These internal dialogues are like what soundtracks are for movies. You might just overlook the soundtracks as unimportant background noises until you find that It’s hard to laugh in even the best comedies when you pair them with suspenseful horror movie soundtracks. When we write, we explore these stories, discover blindspots, and are given the opportunity to start re-writing past wrongs and planning for a different life outcome. What soundtrack does the movie of your life play?
It’s important to pay attention to what is happening in your life and not just keep it all in. Writing about what happened can help you process it better, which is why many psychologists have started recommending journaling as an effective stress relief technique for patients who don’t want to take medication or participate in talk therapy. Journaling demands that you think deeply about your life and experiences. For some, journaling is a way to talk about their anxiety or depression, while for others it is a way to process trauma or abuse they have had in their past.
The psychological benefits of writing include self-exploration, emotional release, stress reduction, pain distraction, physical healing and much more. A study was done at Stanford University on patients who were admitted into the hospital for cancer treatments. The studies found that those who wrote every day for two or more hours had better outcomes than those who did not write anything at all. Other research found that writing about traumatic events can lessen the intensity of negative thoughts and feelings about the event in the long term.
Writing therapy is not only a great way to express your thoughts and feelings, it can also help pinpoint things that you need to work on. Sometimes it can be used as an emotional outlet for memories or feelings too difficult to talk about. People often feel safer when they write about their thoughts and feelings in private, which can make it easier for them to explore their deepest emotions without fear that someone will reject them or judge them negatively.
Journaling is a way to shape your life the way you want it. It gives you a chance to rewrite your life’s story and make it better. It can help us express ourselves better, process what has happened in our lives more clearly, find inspiration for the future, or unburden ourselves from the things that weigh us down.Journaling is also an opportunity to shift perspective by stepping outside of ourselves. The guided journal prompts from curaJOY help you gain a broader perspective on things you have experienced and open up new ways of thinking about them. It can also help you identify patterns in your life which might not be readily apparent otherwise.
Writing therapy has been clinically proven to improve one’s mental wellbeing. curaJOY’s Quest Depot integrates guided journal, emotional awareness, goal setting, progress tracking and reward/motivation system all in one visual interface that leverages positive social influence, gamification and psychology. In place of the daunting blank journal page, users selects their current mood emoji and then write or speak (speech to text) their responses to journal prompts.
If you want to start journaling on your own, below are some ideas to get you started.
The WDEP model
A four-step process that can help you think about what you want to achieve, and how to go about it.
● Wants. What do you want?
This might be something like “I’d like to start my own business” or “I need more time for myself”.
● Doing. What are you doing to get what you want?
You can also make a list of things that might help you get closer to your goal. For example, these might include taking on extra work, finding a new job, or hiring an assistant.
● Evaluate. Is what you are doing helping you get to what you want?
● Plan. Can you make a more effective plan to get what you want?
Evaluate how successful you are after trying this method and plan accordingly for future obstacles.
This is the basis of behavior therapy. It replicates the natural process of learning and understanding of human behavior, which starts with an event or antecedent that leads to a behavior or belief, which in turn leads to a consequence.A: Activating event or antecedent
B: Beliefs and thoughts about this event; what we tell ourselves about it
C: Emotions and subsequent actions that result from this belief system
Though the therapeutic benefits of writing are undeniable, it is important to note that it is not always a replacement for therapy. Journaling can, however, help us become more emotionally aware and process negative events which have happened in our lives. For many, it is a way to help them feel safe in this scary world.
Writing is always free, private and available. So start journaling to take care of yourself!