Stress Relief through Journaling

“So the week begins anew. That sense of dread is with me again. I still haven’t figured out a solution to this business dilemma. Not sure what I’ll do from here…”

This was the start of my journal entry on Monday last week. Lately I spend a few minutes each morning transferring the thoughts in my head to paper. I’ve known for years that journaling helps me deal with stress and speeds me more quickly toward fixes to problems that are taking up my headspace. It turns out that aside from my anecdotal experiences, there’s also science behind the value of journaling.

Psychologist and expressive writing expert Dr. James Pennebaker, reports that journaling strengthens immune cells that help reduce anxiety and depression, while also boosting feelings of positivity. Further, journaling specialist Maud Purcell explains, “Writing accesses the left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to do what it does best, i.e. create, intuit and feel. In this way, writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use more of our brainpower to better understand ourselves and the world around us.”

And it turns out that it’s better to go old school when documenting our innermost musings, using pen and paper rather than keyboarding. The act of writing triggers our reticular activating system, which works to bring our highest priority thoughts to the surface.

All of these explanations are in line with my own experiences around journaling. Every time I empty my thoughts on paper, I feel my anxiety drop. Shortly after, my brain kicks in with more positive perspectives and potential solutions. As an example, after vomiting my concerns about my business dilemma last Monday, my brain produced several clues to solving it, which then led me to creating an improved action plan, which I’m implementing now.

So if the idea of less stress, a more positive outlook, and more quickly finding resolutions to the challenges that plague appeal to you, consider putting it in writing. This simple strategy could produce the relief you seek.


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