Express to Destress!

As a child, I would always observe my grandfather with an open notebook, writing away. I once asked him what he would write about and he replied saying, “Just the happenings in our daily lives.” I didn’t quite understand, so I left it at that.

Fast forward a couple of years later to when I was in my preteen years and going through major life changes. Life changes that made me so angry and resentful that I felt like I was going to explode. During that time, I was gifted a blue diary with a single rose on it, which I still have to this day. One day I picked it up, and just started writing everything I was feeling. Thoughts, emotions and feelings pouring out until I felt a sense of freedom. Since then I’ve filled out many diaries, all of them which served as safe places for me to vent, without judgement.

This venting is also known as catharsis, which, according to the psychoanalytic theory, is an emotional release in order to relieve unconscious conflicts.

Diary writing, or better known as journaling, has proven to reduce stress and anxiety significantly. Journaling doesn’t necessarily have to be a ‘dear diary’ moment. Here are a few types of journaling methods!

  1. Art Journaling: This is a technique used in visual art therapy. It’s a lot like scrapbooking, except you use images, sketches, paintings, cut out pictures, etc to express your feelings. During my training as a visual arts facilitator, we did an exercise in which we had to hold on to a memory in which we experienced grief, and express it through art. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a trained artist to do this! (I can’t draw or paint to save my life)
  2. Gratitude Journaling: Sometimes we need to be reminded of the positive things in our lives that we are thankful for. As humans, we tend to focus more on the negative than the positive, so refocusing on what you’re thankful for can help you maintain your positivity. An example of this could be jotting down five things that you’re grateful for every night before sleeping.
  3. Musical Journaling: Music is a beautiful way to express your emotions. No matter what your level of expertise is, you can use different notes to express happiness, sadness or anger really well. Who knows? You may create a song. Most songs are autobiographical in nature anyway!
  4. Stream-of-Consciousness Journaling: This kind of journaling is PERFECT for those that have a tendency of overthinking, and being highly critical of themselves. It’s for those that can’t turn off their brains at night. All you do is start writing down anything and everything that comes to mind. Never mind the structure or the grammar, just write until you have nothing more to think. I personally use this method, and I don’t know where I would be without it. Probably biting away at my nails, thinking at 8767 kilometres per hour, I’m sure.
  5. Unsent Letter Journaling: Many times we have a lot that’s left unsaid, depriving us of the closure we need. In such cases, writing a letter or recording a message with everything you wanted to say to someone can be said, as if the page or the voice recorder is that person. This will help you get things off your chest that have been bottled up for too long. The best part is that the letter or message doesn’t have to be sent, so pour your heart out!
Art journaling

How will journaling help me?

  1. Personal growth and development: Journaling can improve your insight and can help you gain perspective in order to grow from where you are currently.
  2. Intuition and self-expression: Self-work cannot begin if you don’t take the initiative of getting to know yourself. The journey of self discovery could just start with a piece of paper and a pen.
  3. Problem-solving: When multiple stress inducing thoughts are swirling around in our minds, it’s difficult to navigate in a rational manner, which can lead to feeling stuck or solutions that aren’t too well thought out. Journaling can help you identify the issue and go from there in a more structured and clear way.

Starting the activity of journaling may prove to be extremely difficult at first, especially when it comes to keeping consistency. Start slow. Don’t set a time limit to how long you’ll write or sketch or whatever. Plan your day so that you have at least five minutes to yourself where you can journal. Trust me, if you stick it out for even a few day, you yourself will notice a sense of lightness, even if it is just a tiny bit! Plus isn’t this a great way to go buy some more stationary?

Until next time,

Sneha

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