NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Journal Writing Can Help Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Many people find that writing about their thoughts and emotions in a journal helps them relieve stress and anxiety.    Why is this?

Journal Writing Can Help You to Organize Your Thoughts and Balance Your Emotions
When you're under a lot of stress or experiencing anxiety, you can feel overwhelmed by the thoughts and emotions that you might be experiencing.

Journal Writing to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Journal writing can help you to organize your thoughts and balance your emotions.  Rather than feeling overwhelmed and, possibly, confused, you can capture these feelings in writing and, as you do, the act of writing them down can help you organize your experience.

Journal Writing Can Help You to See the Meaning in Your Experiences
Often, when you write about your experiences in a journal, you begin to recognize that these experiences have meaning for you.  Rather than seeing them as just random experiences, you can begin to understand what meaning they have for you in your life.

When you can see the meaning of a particular experience, even if it's a painful experience, you might begin to understand it's significance in the context of your life.

For instance, if you're recovering from an illness that was particularly challenging for you, by writing about it in your journal, you might recognize that going through this experience helped you to realize how precious life.  It can help you to reflect on how you've been living your life, what you want to do with the rest of your life, and who you want in your life.

Journal Writing Can Help You to Make Connections
When you organize your thoughts in writing and you begin to see the meaning of your experiences in the context of your life, it can help you to make connections to other current and past experiences.

The act of writing down your thoughts can help you to see patterns that you engage in that you might not have recognized before.

For instance, if you're writing down your feelings about an argument you had with your significant other, as you think about what happened and how you reacted, you might recognize that your tendency is to withdraw emotionally for days at a time after one of these arguments.  This insight can help you to see how this reaction is affecting you and your relationship.  It can also help you to decide if you want to change your behavior.

Journal Writing Can Help You to Talk About Something That's Upsetting You
Organizing your thoughts in writing, giving meaning to your experience, and making important connections can help you to talk about what's bothering you.  It can give you the clarity you need to have an important talk with a loved one.

Journal Writing is Low Cost
All you need is a notebook and a pen or, if you choose to keep your journal online, a secure and private site.

The type of journal you use is a personal choice.   Sometimes, a regular notebook or loose leaf book that's not too fancy is best.  Sometimes, when people buy beautiful journals, the beauty of the journal can make it feel too "precious."  They feel that they can only write "important" thoughts rather than just letting themselves write freely.

Some people like to carry a small notebook around with them to jot down their feelings.  Other people prefer a larger book with unlined pages so they can include artwork like drawings or clippings.  The most important thing is that the journal is private so you feel free to write whatever you want.

Journal Writing Between Therapy Sessions
I often recommend journal writing to therapy clients as a way to capture their feelings between therapy sessions.  A lot can come up between sessions and it's easy to forget if you don't write it down.  Writing in a journal between sessions can also help you to reflect on whatever came up in the therapy session as well as how your thoughts and feelings evolve over time.

A Word About Timing
When considering whether to write about a traumatic event, some people find that it's best for them to wait until a little time has passed before they capture their thoughts in writing because they're not ready to face their emotions about the trauma.

Other people find it helps them to write about the traumatic event soon after it happens.  There's no right or wrong about when you write.  You'll discover what's best for you.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.  I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 or send me an email.

Also see my article: Writing Down the Milestones of Your Life