The Benefits of Journaling
The next stress management activity to be briefly discussed is the technique of journaling. The physical and emotional benefits of journaling, as a catharsis of stressful events, have been widely researched by James Pennebaker (1997), as well as others (see the Stress Management Article Bibliography).
According to Pennebaker’s research, writing about emotional stressors in our lives can improve physical and mental health.
Although the scientific research surrounding the value of expressive writing is still in the early phases, there are some specific approaches to journaling for stress management that his lab has found to be helpful.
Some tips include:
- Find a time and place where you won’t be disturbed, such as at the end of the workday or before going to sleep.
- Write for a minimum of 15 minutes a day for at least 3 consecutive days.
- Once you begin journaling, write continuously. Don’t be worried about spelling or grammar. If you run out of things to say before the 15 minutes are over, just repeat whatever you started writing.
- Write longhand or on a computer. If unable to write, you can also talk into a tape recorder.
- You can write about the same thing on all 3 or 4 days of writing or you can write about something different each day.
The most helpful topics to journal on, according to his research, include worries, dreams, stressful events, and issues that you have been avoiding. Afterwards, you can do whatever you want to with the written material, for example, rip it up.
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