Writing a journal can help you cope with stress. The act of putting pen to paper is in itself a cathartic exercise. Think of all the pent up negative energy as the black ink. Envision all the stressors bleeding out on paper and leaving your body. If you’re particularly aggravated, rip that page from its mooring, crush it into a tiny ball, and hurl it full-force across the room. If you’re not yet satisfied, pick up that demolished little ball and burn it into ashes. Now, stand over it and laugh like a hyena – although this part is optional as it verges on villain territory.
Stress can come from a lot of sources. Work, family (yes, think of Jon Snow trying to tell his Aunt Daenaerys about his claim ala Game of Thrones), friends, or even a video game that you can’t quite finish. Think about salesmen with quotas in a bear market. What about emergency room nurses who need to perform triage all day long. Think about that passive-aggressive coworker who does not run out of snark. Everybody knows what stress feels like, but sometimes, you just can’t sort the emotions out. Here’s where writing comes in.
The page will not judge you
When writing to cope with stress, you don’t need to make sense. You can just write how you feel about a person or an event that weighs on you. The page is a passive receptacle that will not give an opinion, no matter what you write on it. This gives you the freedom to express your emotions and articulate what’s bothering you. If what you feel is a jumble, write about what happened and your reactions when it happened. It does not need to be logical, there is no panel of judges to rate your article for legibility.
When you write about things, it gives your mind time to focus and think about that topic – in this case, stress. It gives you time to pause, sort, and clarify what was ephemeral before. It also helps if you read back on what you’ve written. For example, you had an argument with your friend and you wrote about it. You can judge for yourself whether you were making sense or just being childish. If they were riding roughshod over your opinions, you can read what you’ve written. Then you can see for yourself if your position is logical or if the other person was right.
Count your blessings
On the other side of the coin, you can choose to write about gratitude. A friend of mine said that it was particularly effective for her anger issues. She wrote about what she was thankful for, even the little things. Having a particularly crappy day? Write about how your pets love you and think you’re the greatest thing since an opened tin of cat food. A gratitude journal not only reduces stress – it can also make you happier about your lot in life.
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