Life in Balance

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Journalling and Wellness

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It’s been one of those days. Your head is spinning, you’re anxious inside, and you feel like you’re losing faith in your abilities. To top it all off, you feel like you have no energy to do something productive – something that might actually help you feel better if you could just bring yourself to do it. Perhaps you had a stressful day at work. Perhaps you’ve had an argument with a friend or loved one. Maybe you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, or some sort of mental anguish. Maybe you’re faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem. Whatever the case may be, you feel low, low, low, and you need something to help yourself feel better.

This would probably be a good time to start journalling!

It is widely known that journalling can be an effective wellness tool for those dealing with mental health issues, stress, or other life problems.

Journalling helps us get our thoughts down on paper, and in doing so, it can help us clarify any confusing or muddled ideas that we may have.  Writing something in anger, confusion, or pain can help express those emotions in a healthy way. Then, one can come back to those words and look at them in a new light. It helps us turn an objective eye to our thoughts and separate them from strong emotions, while at the same time giving those emotions a powerful and constructive outlet.

In this same vein, journalling can help us become better problem-solvers. It can help us see different sides of an issue and take things into account that we normally wouldn’t. Furthermore, taking a break from a problem and then coming back to it, as journalling allows us to do, promotes insightful problem-solving and allows us to take into consideration alternatives that would otherwise remain hidden.

Journalling also promotes self-awareness, which is an important component of mental health recovery, or indeed any sort of recovery. With self-awareness comes awareness of one’s trigger situations (situations that may trigger strong negative emotions or memories), and how to deal with them. A large part of creating a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (or WRAP, you can visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wellness_Recovery_Action_Plan for more info) involves increasing self awareness and planning for difficult situations. Journalling can help us recognize patterns in our behaviour and how to anticipate negative reactions so that we can make a plan to counteract them before they happen or while they’re happening.

Journalling can also help us focus on the positive things in our lives. Did something good happen today, even if it was just participating in a meaningful conversation, or hearing a favourite song on the radio at the precise moment you started the car? Write it down! Writing down positive things helps us dwell on positive emotions and helps us increase our appreciation and gratitude. Plus, it makes for good reading during a time when we’re not feeling so great, because it can help remind us that there are positive things in life that we can feel happy about.

It doesn’t take a thousand-word entry to make a difference – even just spending five minutes journalling can have a positive effect. One needn’t consider oneself a ‘good’ writer, either – the main idea is to get thoughts and feelings out – no need to worry about prose, punctuation, or grammar. Start journalling today and see what a positive difference it can make in your life!

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