This informal CPD article How Journaling Can Help You Work Through Work Woes was provided by Centre of Excellence, a worldwide online training provider.
What is Journaling?
Journaling is so much more than a diary. Writing has helped humans throughout the centuries to confront demons, challenge their existing ideas, and find peace and catharsis after facing difficulties. But structured journal therapy, supported by healthcare professionals and boosted with prompts and exercises, can offer a targeted outlet for those struggling with whatever life throws their way.
It can also help us express our feelings in black and white, in a way that talking sometimes cannot. While we may feel that we are very capable of expression, it’s perfectly natural after difficult life events to suppress at least some of what we feel. This is where expressive writing can come in useful – enabling us to process our feelings and work towards complete healing.
So, how do you begin Journaling?
It’s believed that writing by hand is more beneficial than writing on a screen, but finding a method you feel comfortable with is the most important factor. Likewise, some prefer white noise, but it’s a good idea to minimise distractions where possible and find somewhere you can sit undisturbed.
To help you to start writing, you may use prompts that reflect what you’d like to achieve with journaling. For example, if you’re feeling worried or anxious about your job, start by writing down a list of 10 things that make you feel this way during your working day. List writing is a fantastic place to start with journal therapy but it’s not the only tool at your disposal.
Try writing a letter – that you won’t send – to yourself or someone who has had an impact on your life. You could use journaling to capture a moment, such as a happy memory from your childhood or a time in which you acted bravely or with gratitude. A biographical summary of yourself or someone significant can help you to look at relationships objectively - just write a few unbiased paragraphs on this person’s life, in a succinct and focused way. You could even use this as a tool of empowerment by writing your own biography as though you were being announced at an awards ceremony - after all, journal therapy can also be fun and light-hearted!
Dream journaling - unlock your thoughts and feelings
Use dialogue writing to play out conversations with someone significant with whom you have trouble communicating. Alternatively, some find dream journaling can unlock thoughts and feelings helpful in their waking life. Be as creative as you feel during any given session - don’t be afraid to doodle and draw and sketch by way of expression. On the other hand, you can keep it simple, beginning a session with a phrase such as ‘I feel’ and letting the words flow in free form.
Whichever technique you decide to use on any given day, engage in free thought and try not to censor what comes to your mind. It’s a good idea to keep your journal private so that you don’t hold back for fear of judgement.
During the writing process, we engage the rational left hemisphere of our brains, leaving our creative right brain free to flow unexpected ideas onto the page. This can help us gain greater clarity surrounding challenging events and see them in the wider context of our lives, rather than letting the negative experience define us.
As with every exercise, listen to your feelings. If you find yourself feeling worse and worse throughout the exercise, feel free to step away from it. Finally, give yourself some time after journaling to decompress. You can also revisit your written words at a time when you feel is appropriate.
Use journaling to help work through negative feelings
With the right support and guidance, journaling could help you work through some of those negative feelings and challenges. It can be used for trauma, grief, PTSD, anxiety and depression, as well as for personal development. You can even start journaling to help you evaluate your happiness at life’s milestones and crossroads, such as a career change or a new relationship.
Journaling is known to:
- Reduce stress
- Regulate emotions
- Boost working memory
- Improve overall wellbeing
- Help goal attainment
- Aid mindfulness
- Develop emotional intelligence
- Enhance personal empowerment
In other words, a problem shared with the page through the written word may very well become a problem halved.
We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Centre of Excellence, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.