Even though this wisdom has been around for a while and it may sound cliché, keeping a journal can be a powerful tool to help caregivers find more peace, better sleep, and a sense of clarity. This is true whether you are caring for a family member or working in health care or the healing arts.
Journaling can help us gain awareness about emotions, thoughts, and how we’re doing physically, keeping us grounded and in touch with what we need, and with what we have for which we are grateful.
I love that journaling calls on the three parts of the brain, helping to connect thoughts to emotions, and then integrate them to our body as we actually write, pray, dream, and create.
A journal can be a great place to vent frustrations, and to notice when we’re getting out of balance. In writing, we may tap into a deeper, wiser part of ourselves!
If you don’t already have a journaling practice, I’d like to invite you to start in a way that feels natural and easy, perhaps starting with a few lines of writing, just a few days each week. I’d also encourage you to include the element of gratitude, as doing this has been shown to have benefits!
Some ideas for journaling:
- Write just a line or two every evening before bed, mentioning one or two things that happened for which you are grateful.
- Write about whatever comes to mind for a specific period each morning, such as three pages or three minutes. This practice of “Morning Pages” was introduced by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artists Way, and it’s a great practice when you let yourself just “dump” onto paper whatever comes to mind. You may capture dreams, feelings, and random thoughts, or you might just write “blah blah blah” for the whole time. That’s okay! Does it seems weird? Try it! It’s a great way to express and clear out the leftovers from the night, which allows you to reach down to the clarity (and creativity) that is underneath.
- If you have trouble getting to sleep, it can help to write out a list of things that are on your mind or that need to be done the next day. You will give your mind a break, sending the message that it doesn’t need to keep repeating your to-do list so you remember them the next day. This isn’t exactly journaling, but it is a writing practice and can help you sleep better.
- Do “Gratitude Journaling,” writing three things every morning that you are grateful for.
- A spin on evening gratitude journaling is to write about one thing that happened that day, something you wouldn’t normally think to feel grateful for. This puts you in a mindset to watch for the magical, wonderful, and pleasurable little blessings that will come throughout your day, which can shift your outlook in a positive direction and boost your mood.
- Art Journaling is a way to keep a journal and tap into your visual creativity. Some people write in their journal then embellish with collage, drawing, or painting, and others may use art to express the events in their lives.
- Poetry is an out-of-the-box way to use words to express yourself. You don’t have to be a famous writer to use this form to journal… try just writing the words that come to you as you think about the day’s events or how you’re feeling at a given moment.
Remember that journaling is for you alone, so do it in a way that speaks to you. You don’t have to worry about others seeing your words.
Do you have a journaling practice, a gratitude practice, or both? What works best for you? Please feel free to share in the comments section below!
If you don’t have a practice, I’m inviting you to research the kind of journaling that might appeal to you, and please share what you find in our community conversation~
Check out this article about the many benefits of journaling (and some more resources for you)!
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for you! Have a warm, safe, and sweet holiday, Lisa K.