Tips for feeling better at difficult times.
Updated: Jan 30, 2021
As a child I used to write just before my bedtime about the day that had passed, many details about the events that had happened and general information about my thoughts on them. I would often include ideas about what I would like to do, where I would like to go, who I would like to be my new friend. Everything that was exciting and many things that were mundane about my life were written down in my diary, that would then be locked and hidden at a place where my parents and sisters could never find it, the key for the little lock I would always hide separately and far from the diary itself. Thinking about this ritual fills my heart with warm memories of silly secrets and situations that at the time seemed too important to share with grownups.
As a young adult I was not much into journaling, I would rarely write few pages, so I do have random records or events and ideas from throughout the years but nothing too consistent, until few years ago. Examining the texts, I have written I can now see a pattern, the times that I would seek a pen and paper, the times that I would need to write where when facing a rather big problem that needed to be solved, looking back at all these problems now I can say with certainty that no matter how complex they were, journaling helped me though the resolution of each one of them. Further to that the moment I would start writing about any issue I would feel much calmer, the matter would feel smaller and the anxiety caused by it would be relieved.
Journaling is for me a great way to build self-awareness, it helps me always comprehend exactly where I am and where I want to go. It gives me great insight of my thoughts, my feelings and my needs, there are things that if it was not for writing; I would never have realised with clarity and in depth. According to several studies, as explained by Karen A. Baikie and Kay Wilhelm in their article : Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing, writing with a structured approach rather than simple diary keeping, and including both thoughts and feelings can make expressive writing a very effective tool towards better mental and physical health.
I would recommend journaling to anybody, either they are going through a stressful situation or not. Either the problems they are facing are big, small or non- existent. Even to people that suggest they are not good at it I always answer that it does not need to be a masterpiece for others to admire, rather a dialogue with yourself that only you need to understand and benefit from. For the New Year I created a for my son, journaling is our new shared, daily activity. I am hoping that by getting him to write about his thoughts, feelings, experiences, and ideas I am giving him a great resource to get him through difficulties and challenges he might have to deal with later in his life. You can find attached the template I created to get him started as he was initially not fond of the idea of it, please do download for your personal use to help your children get more confident with expressing themselves. I also found the joint activity a great way to connect with one another, talking about our journal entries after we finish writing is a perfect way to get to know each other better, it also helps build on our communication and trust. I would recommend it as an activity for families with children, especially at times when our feelings may be hard to discuss, because they are new, they are emotions we never had before, so we are not sure of how to explain and describe what is in our hearts and in our minds. It has definitely helped us bond even more and help each other deal with hard situations and feelings. Though we have chosen to share our entries with one another, some may be more reluctant to do so. Still writing a journal can be beneficial in many ways, as explained by Amanda Morrin on verywellfamily.com children may gain an insight to explore and identify their emotions, examine the pros and cons of different situations and thus be more decisive and plan out difficult conversations ahead of time, amongst others.
Journaling can be a great way to raise self- awareness for all ages and it is a great tool that can be used to gain a better understanding of any situation. As Stephen R.Covey states: 'Keeping a personal journal a daily in- depth analysis and evaluation of your experiences is a high- leverage activity that increases self- awareness and enhances all the endowments and the synergy among them.' So go ahead and give it a go, chances are you will benefit from its therapeutic properties and soon you will be looking forward to the time of each day you get to spend alone with your pen and notebook.