Stress Relief: ‘Journalling’

11
Apr

‘Journalling’ is a way to find your own voice.

I don’t want to write stuff down every single day, about everything I do.

No, this is not that.

This is about feelings and emotions that may be buried deep inside of you. Emotions that you cast aside as unimportant.

If you suffer from anxiety or depression, or a mixture of both, and don’t know how to contextualize erratic thoughts, bad memories, or wild imaginings, you are probably not moving forward.

 

Why ‘Free Association’ Journalling?

This technique is used in psychoanalytic therapy to help patients understand what they are thinking and feeling.

It is most commonly associated with Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalytic therapy. Freud used free association to help his patients discover unconscious thoughts and repressed feelings. As his patients released these unconscious thoughts or feelings, they were able to manage them better and alter unhealthy behaviours.

Free association journalling is based on the same concept, but rather than releasing thoughts and feelings in an office, with a therapist, it’s done by you, for you.

 

How To Do It

You merely require a writing tool, a notebook or computer, and your unabashed, unedited, uncensored feelings.

Think of it as creating a Jackson Pollack-like painting, but, instead of paint, you allow your feelings to be freely expressed on ‘a canvas,’ with no constraints. A free for all for the mind. A blessed release.

 

The Method

  • Have a notebook or computer at the ready, to write down your thoughts.
  • Write out your feelings, whenever you feel the need. (Just not late at night, when journalling about difficult feelings may interrupt your sleep.)
  • Don’t worry about the feelings you produce or in what order they appear.
  • Don’t think twice about spelling or grammar.
  • Write down whatever enters your mind, without any judgement whatsoever.
  • Throw away your written words, or safely store them somewhere, in a place of your choosing.

The goal is to get in touch with your own ‘voice’ at its deepest level.

 

What Are The Benefits?

This practice helps reduce anxiety, mitigates stress, improves mood, and helps identify stress triggers.

While this approach won’t work for everyone – writing as a practice may be uncomfortable for some – the resulting health benefits for those who do partake are impressive, says writing therapy pioneer James Pennebaker .

“When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health,” Pennebaker says. “They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function…People will tell us months afterward that it’s been a very beneficial experience for them.”

It’s a safe practice for most people to pursue on their own. But journalling about intensely stressful events or trauma may best be done with the assistance and support of a reputable therapist.

The key is that free association journalling releases pent up feelings and emotions which are otherwise stored as obsessive ruminations in the mind, with no healthy outlet.

Says Jerry Waxler: “By sitting quietly with a blank page, we write quickly and spontaneously, to allow our thoughts to blast past our inner censor, and reveal ideas, connections, and intensity we didn’t even realize we had. [And] as we get more in touch with our inner self, we find new ways to grow.”

Free association journalling: yet another tool to add to your personal stress kit. Another proactive strategy, helpful aide, and a comfort to reach for, some people even say a “friend,” when overwhelm and anxiety overtakes.

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Further Reading Recommendations: 

“Journaling”  http://www.mental-health-survival-guide.com/brochures/journaling.html

“Emotional And Physical health Benefits of Expressive Writing” http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/11/5/338.full

“Writing to Heal” http://www.utexas.edu/features/archive/2005/writing.html

 

 

This entry was posted on Saturday, April 11th, 2015 at 3:01 am and is filed under Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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