image by drumma
Are you stressed? Stressed about work? Stressed about your relationship or lack of it? Stressed about your children? Stressed about money? Stressed about your life choices?
Every one of us gets stressed at some point. Some of us manage it better than others, but stress is a common affliction. In today’s society, it’s rarer to find people who are not stressed, particularly in the big cities where we live like we are trying to win a race.
While therapy has its place, not everyone can afford it, or even need it. Sometimes, it’s just stress….something that you could manage yourself if you put in the effort. Journaling can help you manage or even eliminate your stress.
A caveat: if you have serious stress related problems which are affecting your health, causing you depression etc. then you should consult a doctor. Journaling will still help, but you may also need professional advice.
However, for everyday variety stress which most of us suffer from, let’s look at how journaling can help.
Expression Without Boundaries
If you have a bad day at work, do you ever find that you feel better after you hash it out over a cup of coffee, or a beer with a friend? You whine, they nod and listen, and agree with you completely that your boss is a total ass. After the first drink, you are chilled, and talking about something entirely different.
Whining is good for you. Not all the time. Not about everything. But now and again, to get things out of your system. Even if you have friends you can do this with, they may not be available all the time. Besides, you shouldn’t take advantage of friendship just to whine. Instead, use your journal. It’s a private place. No one else has to see what you write. In your journal, you can be completely subjective and write about what’s stressing you out.
The whole purpose of this is expression without boundaries. Nothing you write is wrong. Nothing has to be censored. Write exactly what you feel. Give your emotions a chance to exist, even for a brief moment, because bottling up is what turns regular people into raging maniacs. Give yourself the freedom to write honestly, and without reserve.
Reflection and Perspective
Sometimes, just the first step will whoosh the stress out of you like an air from a balloon. You will feel lighter and freer, simply because you got the stressful thoughts out of your system. However, at other times, especially if it’s a more complicated issue that is not sorted – such as marital or financial problems – then just whining may not be enough.
That’s when you move onto the next step. Give yourself an hour or so after the first step, then read through what you wrote. Try to be as objective as possible. It won’t always be easy. Sit down with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and read your entry as if you are critically examining someone else’s work.
Is the scope of your problems really as bad as you thought? Get some perspective. In the grand-scheme of things, this problem that you are stressing about, effecting your life?
Give Yourself Time and Permission to Relax
It’s important to give yourself time and permission, regularly, to de-stress. Many of us “busy” people neglect it because it feels like a waste of time. However, you will be far more productive when you are relaxed and happy, and not stressed.
Do something that relaxes you.
Sit down and watch your favourite movie.
Read a book.
Light some candles and make love to your partner.
Have a nap.
Listen to music.
Do whatever works for you, but give yourself time and permission and to relax.
Journal Your Next Step
If you are stressed because of a more complicated reason, I would still recommend you take all of the above steps, and then after you have completed all three, plan out your further actions. Instead of focusing on your problem, instead of thinking about how stressed you are, think about the solutions.
What can you do?
What action can you take?
You don’t have to have all the answers right now. You don’t need to come up with a perfect solution that will eliminate all problems from your life (that never happens). Just think about your most pressing problem, and the next step you need to take towards fixing it. That’s it. Just one step.
Write down that one step you need to take, how soon can you start taking that, and what exactly you need to do.
Be very specific.
Then do it!
Stress is a symptom not a cause. If you want to eliminate stress from your life, or reduce it as much as possible, then you need to do something about the causes that create it. Journaling will give you the relief through emotional release, and it will give you space for practical planning.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:
Start journaling about whatever is stressing you out right now.