Journal Writing
A Tool for Stress Management

woman writing in a journal

Journal writing has many purposes.  Some people enjoy keeping a diary to document daily events, a recent vacation or even a special occasion in their lives.  But keeping a journal can also be a significant aid in your reducing stress.  There is a benefit in writing down things that preoccupy your mind.  Once you've journaled, you don't carry as much of that information around with you and gets it off your mind! Identifying the stressor is part of stress management and taking control of your situation.

Stress management is all about taking charge.  You may feel that there is nothing you can do about your stress level but really, there is.  But you can't solve a problem you can't identify.  That's why journaling can be so helpful.  If you want to take control of the stress in your life then, you have to define what that stress is.

Stress can invade your life and take control.  To retake control of your life, including your emotions, schedule, environment, and your reaction to stress, document what is happening between you and the stress you are experiencing!

To learn the techniques about writing and maintaining a journal, visit our webpage, How to Keep a Journal.  There you will find specific tips and some organizing questions you can follow as you begin to document your daily life activities and the types of stressors that are becoming obstacles in your quest for a more balanced and fulfilling life.

What Patterns Do You Find?

People who journal about the stress in their lives are often surprised at the stress patterns that emerge.  They often find that the areas they thought were problematic are not as bad as other areas that they had not even considered.  Also when you review your week's worth of findings, you may find that there are certain times of day that you handle stress better than others.  So, what did you find?  What patterns emerged over the past week?  Which stressors occurred most frequently?  Or did you find that a combination of events tends to trigger your reaction to stress?  Take a good hard look at how you handle stress.  How do you cope with stressful situations?  Have you identified the things that trigger your stress reactions?

Have you found that you wouldn't be under so much stress if you didn't procrastinate?  Would you be under less stress if you got up earlier in the morning to handle the multitasking that is necessary to get your family members out the door? It is easier to deal with stress when you can label what stressors are a part of your life and you can anticipate when and why they occur.  You can be ready to deal with the stress before it happens! 

Manage Stress Before It Happens.

The reason I like journal writing is because I can identify the major stress patterns in my daily routine.  One type of stressor for me is called technostress.  I may try learning about some new device that I just acquired and if after 20 minutes things are getting confused or tense for me, I walk away and stop for a while, ending the stress. 

Notice in your journal writing how many times the minor stressors combined to trigger a stress reaction. Journal writing is one of several great stress management tools.  It helps you learn to notice stress patterns early and manage them before they manage you.

Be Thankful.

Sometimes we get so caught up in focusing on what is bothering us, that we forget to notice the good things in our lives.  I would encourage you consider the following exercise after a week of journal writing about stress. 

How about writing about things  for which you have to be thankful?  At the end of each day, jot down three things that you have to be thankful for in your life.  This may change your attitude toward your life situation when you can focus on your blessings rather than on the things that stress you.  This is just another tool for stress management because it gets pretty easy to forget to stop and smell the roses, or coffee, in my case.

How to Cope with Stress

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