Journalling for stress management

Hi Everybody

In a time where adults and children alike are under extreme pressure to perform and achieve, it is important to find positive ways of managing and relieving stress. In my practice I teach my clients (young and older) certain techniques to reduce stress.

It is important to reduce stress as it can become a nasty invader if not managed well. True, stress is part of daily life, and we will never be totally without it. When stress levels spike too high, it often leads to frustration, acting out behaviour, anxiety, depression and physical illness such as headaches, stomach problems, skin rashes, etc. 

I explain to my clients that as long as they keep things bottled up, it goes round-and-round in their heads and it sometimes feels as if it’s just a matter of time before a big explosion will occur. Problems can also occupy the mind to such an extent that there is not much ‘space’ left for important things such as learning, remembering or just plain everyday functioning. 

Basic things such as a healthy diet with lots of veggies and fruit, daily vitamins to supplement dietary deficiencies, regular exercise and enough sleep, remain important aspects of managing stress well. It can be very helpful to externalise a problem, in other words, bring it to the open. Put it on the table so to speak. This will allow you to see a problem or decision for what it really is. It’s almost like making it more concrete and strangely enough, most of the time it is almost as if things becomes more manageable and something that can be dealt with. 

One way of ‘externalising’ issues is journalling. People often think that they need to be a fabulous writer, using lovely figures of speech, great and impressive words, with perfect spelling and beautiful handwriting. Well, that it is totally not true. Journalling is really for everybody and there is no right or wrong way of doing. It is individual and personal. The idea is to put feelings, events, behaviour, worries and ideas on paper instead of carrying it around with you. The only prerequisites are honesty and that the ideas and words are truly yours. 

Journalling helps to put things in perspective; such as changes you are going through or when making a decision- helping to see which solution will be the most appropriate. It will be an eye opener to go back and read your journal to identify patterns of behaviour. Sometimes it is just a place where you can ’dump’ the events of the day so that it does not bottle up and manifest in inappropriate acting out behaviour, aggression, frustration or even depression. In a way, a journal can become a means of support and a reminder of what the person has learnt about herself. 

It is amazing to see how much you can learn about yourself by journalling. My one client was very surprised to notice over a period of time, that she made the same mistake over and over. She was unaware of that and when she went back to read some of the older entries, it was a revelation for her. She was then ready for the much needed changes she was resisting previously. 
For children and adolescents, it brings a sense of control; that they are able to say what they want to say without being judged. It is important that parents respect the boundaries and allow the child confidentiality without snooping around and secretly reading their child’s diary. Everybody have a right to privacy- even children and adolescents!

I encourage my clients to also write about gratitude and at least one positive idea or compliment to themselves every day. This helps to keep us grounded and balanced. I have recently shopped around for a journal for a young client. I was amazed at the variety of books available for journalling. It does not need to be very fancy. For this specific client I bought an inexpensive hard covered book with funky colours. I spruced it up with ribbon and voila, a lovely book that she can use for journalling. There are also amazing creative projects on the internet where you can learn to make your own journal- even with lock and key! This can become a project for mom and/or dad to help the kids to all personalise a journal and start writing (without interfering with each other remember!). How about starting to manage your stress through journalling right away?!

For those of you who still want to know more or need some prompts to start, here are some links- there a many more!

  1. 119 Journal Prompts for Your Journal Jar: http://daringtolivefully.com/journal-prompts
  2. 30 Journaling Prompts for Self-Reflection and Self-Discovery: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/09/27/30-journaling-prompts-for-self-reflection-and-self-discovery/
  3. These Journal Writing Prompts Will Encourage Kids to Develop Their Composition Skills: http://www.dailyteachingtools.com/journal-writing-prompts.html 
  4. Recommended Books related to Journal Writing: http://www.lifejournal.com/journal-writing-books/

Don’t hesitate to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you!

Warm regards