by Kimberly Young, Communications and Community Engagement Specialist, Caroline County Public Schools
How do you feel about journaling? I have attempted it numerous times over the years because people talk about how great it is and I am a sucker for a beautiful journal! However, I found that if I read something I had written years ago, it often made me cringe. It was like going back to middle school. No one wants to relive those years! On several occasions, I have torn pages out or thrown the entire journal away.
Several years ago, I mentioned this to a friend who is also a therapist and she told me I should not read my old journals. She said the point of writing is to get what is on your mind out of your head. The act of writing is extremely therapeutic for sorting things out and there is no need to reread. This changed everything for me. I found that if I was having a stressful moment or day, I would grab scrap paper, write it out, and then promptly shred the paper. It was cathartic! Since then, I have modified and enhanced my approach as follows:
- JOURNAL- Use a plain, inexpensive notebook. Once it is full, you have the option to throw it away (or recycle it). Save the pretty journals for writing about travels, adventures, or quotes you want to remember.
- CHAT- Treat it like you are chatting with a close, trusted friend. Write about good things happening, lessons you have learned, or something with which you are struggling.
- WRITE- Typing does not create the same therapeutic effect. It does not have to be legible!
- VISUALIZE- it as a form of self-care like working out. If you stick with it, you will start to feel the results.
- GRATITUDE-Always include things for which you are grateful!
- HABIT- Make it a habit. Even if you feel you have nothing to write about, just write. I will sometimes start with a quote I like and let my thoughts about it flow onto the paper.
- NO GUILT! It is okay if do not write every day or on a regular basis. However, I have found that I look forward to it now because it makes me feel better.