30 days of Stress Tips (day 4 - journaling)
Posted on 18th May 2020 at 08:44
This is one of my favourite stress tips and an invaluable way to help with the challenges in your life.
Keeping a Journal
Now, first let me be clear, this is a journal, not a diary. For me, the two are very different. A diary is for recording all the bits and pieces you have to do every day, for planning and recording stuff whereas a journal is for our thoughts, feelings and what happens in the day written after the event. There is a school of thought that says it is a good idea to write down three things you are grateful for each day. For me this doesn't work, because if I had to do this I would wake up and think "ok, three things I have to be grateful for..... I know, I'm grateful I woke up this morning, I'm grateful for my kids and er... I'm grateful for my lovely breakfast. Done, now I can go about my day" The next day I would wake up and think "ok, three things I have to be grateful for..... I know, I'm still grateful I woke up this morning, I'm grateful for my kids of course (can't not mention them) and er... I'm grateful for my lovely breakfast again. Done, now I can go about my day!" For me a journal works so much better.
What is the point of a journal?
I would suggest that you write anything you want in your journal - what happened to you during the day, what made you feel great, what made you feel crappy, any thoughts and reflections you had, any interactions with people you had and how they went. And if something didn't go well and upset you - feel free to rant as much as you like! The reason this is so important is that we have a negativity bias in our brain. This means that if 10 things happened to you in a day and 1 of them was bad, that is the one you will concentrate on! By writing down the good and the bad, you will see that generally the good far outweighs the bad. And the good can be something as simple as a hug from your child, the smile from a stranger or even the smell of newly cut grass. Also, if you start looking for good things to put in your journal, guess what? You will find them!
If something upsets you and you write it down it gives you a chance to get it out of your system. It will also allow you to look at it when you have calmed down to see if you reacted appropriately and what, if anything, did you do to contribute to the problem. What possible actions could you have taken and what you could do in the future to stop it happening again? Also, you will notice that as time passes and you look back through your journal you will see things which really upset you at the time don't seem so important 6 months down the line.
How does this help your stress levels? Typically when something crappy happens to you, it keeps playing over and over in the mind as you try to make sense of it. It becomes like a bad toothache, always niggling at you as you try to make sense of it and it becomes one of many negative thoughts running around your brain. As each little annoyance happens, they build on each other so that eventually the least little thing will become the "straw that broke the camel's back". If you write it down in the journal however, it allows you to get all the feelings and thoughts out onto the page - almost like a brain dump and you can keep coming back to it and dumping more thoughts if necessary. The point is that once you have done that, your mind is free to thing about other things and possibly to start noticing the good things that are balancing up the bad.
So, why not start a journal today and see what a difference it makes?
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