A stress management journal is an important tool for combating stress. Journaling can help to uncover past hurts and patterns which are causing stress today. By journaling you can also uncover the ways of resolving these problems yourself.
How to use a stress management journal
1. Buy a notepad
I would recommend getting an average quality hard backed note book. The hard back helps you to write while on a train or commuting and allows you to write without the need of a table.
Having an average standard note book means that you are not too worried about how neat you write or any mistakes – this is for relieving stress, not adding to it. You want to be able to write freely without fear of making mistakes and an expensive journal might not make you feel so at ease.
2. Using a computer
Computers are good for stress management journals but not my personal choice. The stated benefits of using a computer can be that it is neater and easier to read later on – but this is not the point of journaling.
The point of journaling is to reduce the levels of stress in the moment. Sometimes when you reread what you have written later on you might think that you have been writing rubbish. This might put you off using this tool when in fact it served its purpose and made you less stressed at that time.
You wrote what you felt and this cleared your stress. You released it.
The downside of using a computer is that if you are spending all day working on a computer it can be stressful if you use it is as journal as well. Sometimes switching your computer off is the best form of computer stress relief.
3. Write what you feel
A journal can be used as a good friend who you release your problems to. Write what you feel and don’t think about what to write. Just write!
One way of starting is by using set phrases like the following:
o “I feel so…”
o “I feel stressed because…”
o “I can deal with this stress by…”
o “I am empowered in how I cope with my stress by…”
o “In order to become less stressed I can change…”
o “What are the changes I can make in my life at this time to not be so affected by stress?”
It is important when journaling to focus on the changes you can make and the way you can empower yourself. Feel free to spend some time focusing on what you don’t like but that is only the first step.
The second step is to focus on what you do want and how you want these changes to come about.
4. Do positive exercises
I once spent 7 days writing 120 pages worth of thoughts in my stress management journal. But at the end of it I didn’t feel any better.
Why? I was just focusing on the negative and reliving past hurts.
So focus on the positives as well:
o What are you grateful for?
o How would you like your life to be and look like? Write it down.
o Write a list of everything you want (and then feel exactly what it would feel like to have these things).
o Write a list of all your goals
The Pros of Using a Stress Management Journal
Research has shown that journaling has the following benefits:
o Counteracts and balances the effects of stress
o Strengthens the immune system
o Helps to reduce symptoms of arthritis, asthma and other health related conditions
Other benefits include:
o Journaling helps to uncover emotional problems which are causing stress
o Promotes self-reliance – realizing you can not only cope with stress but you also have the answers yourself.
o Helps you to gain clarity in difficult and stressful situations
The Drawbacks of a Stress Management Journal
o It is not physical – some situations which are stressful and heavily charged require a physical release – physical exertion like exercise
o You can become locked in a negative mindset – important to balance the negative experience with the positive. Look at all situations as potential learning:
– what have you learned from this experience?
– what positives can you draw from this stressful situation e.g. you coped really well, you didn’t go into negative patterns, you used the stress relief techniques you have learned.
A stress management journal is a very useful addition to any stress management toolbox. Balanced with exercise and tools like meditation a journal can be of great help in reducing your stress levels.