The Benefits of Journaling
Sheila Patel, in her article in the Chopra Centered Lifestyle Newsletter states one of the 7 simple ways to de-stress is by keeping a journal
One of the best tools to reduce stress is journaling. Studies have found that writing about stressful events improves both physical and psychological health. There are many theories about why journaling helps to reduce stress. According to some researchers, when you have an experience you perceive as stressful and then ignore it or “stuff it”—or obsess and ruminate about it—you activate the stress response in your body and mind. If you write about the experiences instead, you can process what happened, keeping only what serves you and letting go of the rest. A regular journaling practice doesn’t need to take a lot of time. By spending only a few minutes journaling, you can reduce the energy of stress in your body and improve sleep, which, as discussed, is vital to your health.
Start your journaling with a recapitulation of your day—simply write down the events of your day as if you were an objective reporter looking through a video camera. Don’t attach interpretations or judgments to anything that occurred. If you felt a strong emotion related to an experience, it is fine to write that down, but detach from any judgment about the emotions that you felt. The idea is to let the emotions go through observing and writing about them. This helps reduce any stress you may have experienced as you went about your activities. This should only take a few minutes.
Next, list three intentions for your life. For example: “I intend to increase my physical activity” or “I intend to love more.”
End the journaling session by writing down three things you are grateful for. It can be something very specific, such as “I am grateful for the delicious meal I enjoyed with friends today,” or something more global, like “I am grateful for the beauty of nature.” The important thing is to bring that feeling of gratitude into your awareness, which will inherently reduce the feeling of stress. Notice how you feel when you journal on a regular basis.
If you want to make sure that your private notes aren’t accidentally found or read by others, a ritual of shredding (or deleting) what was written is an excellent way to give finality to the release of the stressors of the day. Feel free to detach from what you wrote, and begin anew the next day.
Although these practices may seem too simple to be the answer to reducing stress, I encourage you to adopt them into your daily life and experience the benefits yourself. The small amount of time invested in these easy practices, some of which take almost no time at all, will begin to transform your mind-body from a state of stress to a state of relaxation.
Ultimately, when the mind and body are calm, you are able to experience your underlying spiritual nature of happiness, wholeness, and bliss—and open up to your full human potential.
Bailie, K, et al. Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. Adv in Psychiatric Treatment. 2005. Vol. 11, 338-346.