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Journaling helps you let go of thoughts and emotions

- November 25, 2005

Keeping a journal can be good for your health. Writing helps people reduce stress, concentrate better and handle emotionally demanding situations. It also can reduce the negative impact of traumatic experiences.

To reap the health rewards, writers should really "let go" and explore their thoughts and emotions.

"Research suggests that when people write about emotional upheavals in their lives, improvements in physical and psychological health can result," said James W. Pennebaker, chair of the department of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, who has discovered the link between expressive writing and health benefits.

Writing reduces stress by helping people to acknowledge an experience, Pennebaker said. It also enables them to put together the pieces of an event and understand what happened.

By enabling clearer thinking, expressive writing helps individuals get past trauma. It also helps them improve their social relationships as they get better at talking, laughing and being more at ease with others, Pennebaker said.

Through writing, people are able to observe their patterns of behavior and how they handle various situations, said George Holmes, a psychologist at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.

"If you have to write something, you have to sit down, reflect on the events, put them in some kind of order," he said. "And as you're doing that, there's a certain level of mastery of the situation or anxiety that occurs."

In some instances, when people are emotionally upset, it might be better to focus on things other than the trauma, Holmes said.

Creative expressions such as poetry also help people to capture moments and channel their feelings, said Holmes, a fledgling poet.

The method

When journaling, people should experiment to see what kind of writing works best for them. Here are some suggestions from psychologist James W. Pennebaker:

? Find a time and place where you won't be disturbed. Ideally, pick a time at the end of your workday or before you go to bed.

? Promise yourself that you will write for a minimum of 15 minutes a day at least three or four consecutive days.

? Once you begin writing, write continuously. Don't worry about spelling or grammar.

? You can write longhand or you can type on a computer. If you are unable to write, you can also talk into a tape recorder.

Write about:

? Something that you are thinking or worrying about too much

? Something that you are dreaming about

? Something that you have been avoiding

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I agree with this...

I started journalling frequently about a month ago now. Mostly because I had a hard time getting in touch with my emotions and also because it was hard for me to hold on to my thoughts etc... My memory and concentration were/are pretty bad and keeping a journal helped me a lot.

I often re-read what I wrote before I go to my therapist so I can address certain things during a session. My mind tends to blank out every once in a while and having my journal with me is a big help then!

Autumn

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Guest sofaraway

I think journalling does help. I dont keep a specific journal that i write in every day, but sometimes i just type after a particulr incident to try and amke sense of it. I tend to use a reflective cycle approach.

I sometimes take what i have written to therapy because it helps me explain things better than i could on the spot with my own words.

i sometimes find looking back helpful sometimes not.

Edited by sofaraway

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This hasn't helped me at all... :hearts:

I notice that I can't write when I'm thinking about depression,

I always wrote poetry and jotted down lyrics and so on...

But when I sit down and think about my problems,

and try to put them into writing, I always end up getting frustrated.

:bump:

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I'm new here (won't go into my story now) but this does sound like something that would help with me at least. I've always enjoyed writing and since talking to others about my problem is hard for me, I really need to get things out. This can at least be a start. Thanks for the idea :hearts:

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When i was really down about 3months ago , i really didnt go out for weeks, days and weeks will pass and i would not get out of my house. i stoped going to school and i didnt get to graduate. When i started to write in my journal i kinda was feeling better and it was good and i will write everyday more than 5times a day and i was feeling good. When i stoped because i was "better" i was feeling ok but now is like writeing in my journal dont help. I dont know what to do.

Edited by Jen

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I believe that journaling can help but at the same time, I think it can encourage introspection. I know that for me at least, the utility of journaling depends on my state of mind that day.

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Poetry has usually been the only way I can openly express what I'm feeling inside. I did a project at school where I took digital picture of whatever happened to strike me as I went through the day. I would then write a few lines about it. I haven't written any poetry in over a year and my depression has deepened to the point where my doc put me on 450 mg of wellbutrin per day. She was really concerned because of my ambivelant attitude toward everything. I really want to break this pattern. I have so much to be thankful for but between work, empty nest syndrome, and school, it leaves me wanting to escape into computer games or just vegging out watching Law & Order reruns.

- Bobby

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I believe that journaling can help but at the same time, I think it can encourage introspection. I know that for me at least, the utility of journaling depends on my state of mind that day.

I agree that writing can sometimes cause introspection and over analysis. However, I have found that if I just limit it to just a few minutes and write about whats been happening circumstantially that day (or week) and what my feelings are about it, I at least get in touch with myself. Sometimes the inner mind can then take over and find the answers without us being aware of it. Cause you can't change what you don't acknowledge!

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I started journaling when I had my trigger event that pushed me towards the edge. Its helped tremendously, and its even helped me to sort of chart my progress. And, they're quite humorous little entries. (although not at the time) I use humor as a defense mechanism..I guess I'll find out if thats "normal" :hearts: or not, I just started therapy yesterday.

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I have also tried journaling and it did help a little. Although I still didn't have the answers to why what happened has happened, my frustration was taken out in this writing and it helped to ease the burden even if for just a short time.

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I have also tried journaling and it did help a little. Although I still didn't have the answers to why what happened has happened, my frustration was taken out in this writing and it helped to ease the burden even if for just a short time.

I am new here. (Hi all) I have been advised to try to journal so I bought one. I still haven't written a thing in it. I feel like if I start I will not be able to quit. I have been dealing with my depression for about 2 months now and they have put me on Paxil which has helped some. I would love to start my journal but somehow I just feel like I am afraid of it. What if someone reads it and I have written something that could hurt them, even if it is in a moment of anger? I just really do not even know how to start it.

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I suppose Ill agree with the "Journaling" idea.

I tend to write to myself or type to myself so I keep a Weblog and a notebook. Mostly, it helps to relieve some of the pain or at least... another way to SAY whats on your mind especially those who dont like to talk to people. Its just that some dont understand your situation... And they will judge you resulting a negative affect... Youll probably feel bad about yourself.

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I'd never thought of this idea until the other week when my dad suggested it, the main reason is so I can chart for the doctor whether the medication they've put me on is working and what side effects it has but it also helps to write my thoughts and feelings down just to get them off my chest. Definately a good idea in the long term.

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Yes a Journal can help out a great deal, as long as you do not have someone who will find it, read it and not understand and get angry about it........

Yep, that's why I stopped keeping a journal. I moved in with my boyfriend and it was just too much temptation for him me leaving it lying around. I understand, cos I'd probably read his secretly just out of curiousity if he kept one. Anyway, it got too much hassle trying to find a secret place in a shared room and house, and having to explain throwaway comments or vents. I think I also stopped cos it was encouraging me to dwell on my problems too much. It would help me understand them better, but it also made me think about them more. Maybe I should start again . . . who knows, maybe I will, but not in the immediate future I think. Maybe when I feel ready to handle all that introspection.

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I think I'm definitely going to give this a go. I was a bit wary because I tend to think too much about stuff and I worried that writing it all down would make that bit of things worse - but this is something I should really try before I write it off as the whole denial approach is really not working either and I feel I need to be proactive if I want to get better.

It will also help with doctors appointments and the like. So often I know there is something I need to discuss with my doctor but by the time I get there I can't remember it and so she only really has how I am at that time to go on when making decisions about treatment and medication. At the very least if I wrote things down I could look for patterns and specific incidents and this may help us both.

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Yep, that's why I stopped keeping a journal. I moved in with my boyfriend and it was just too much temptation for him me leaving it lying around. I understand, cos I'd probably read his secretly just out of curiousity if he kept one. Anyway, it got too much hassle trying to find a secret place in a shared room and house, and having to explain throwaway comments or vents. I think I also stopped cos it was encouraging me to dwell on my problems too much. It would help me understand them better, but it also made me think about them more. Maybe I should start again . . . who knows, maybe I will, but not in the immediate future I think. Maybe when I feel ready to handle all that introspection.

Hey! That's why we have blogs here at the DF! If you tick on the controls so it is a PRIVATE BLOG, then you don't have to worry about anyone reading it! :bump:

Read all about DF Blogs in our Annoucements Forum. :shocked:

~Lindsay :hearts:

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I tried journaling, and it made some things worse. I had to change how I did it. I would dwell on the negative things I wrote about. I now write about feelings, mainly in poetry. Any specific issue I write on a piece of paper and burn it.

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I did Journaling for a while. I would write down things like poetry. That seemed to help me better than journaling. Because I would write down things of how I was feeling and put them into poetry. Then it gave me some accomplishment like I was doing something good for my self.

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I have been keeping a journal since September. I take it really seriously, I guess. I write in it for 30minutes to an hour everyday. It really helps me, and I love reading it back to see how I have changed even within the last few months. And I have a safe in my room, so I keep it there. Plus, no one is ever home but me and no one really cares.

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Getting your emotions out is healthy, especialy of you have nobody to talk to. Web forums are great too. I do this and I feel it helps me to actually 'think' about what my problems are. It can be tough to be motivated to pick up a pen when we are low though.

The biggest benefit for me is to be able to look back at what brought me back up.

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