Journaling. Some people hear this word and light up. Other people cringe. Whether or not you find yourself in one of these camps, let’s address a few common myths about journaling:
Myth #1: It’s only for the “creative types.”
Myth #2: It takes a long time.
Myth #3: It’s limited to a daily diary.
Myth #4: It should be in a beautifully bound book and be written in a way that would make a high school English teacher proud.
Myth #5: It needs to be suitable to share with other people.
Really, journaling is an invitation for people of all types to explore ideas, process situations, practice positive habits, and manage difficult emotions, like stress and anxiety. Journaling can be a wonderful tool for caregivers and patients (and anyone!) as they go through challenging situations as well as the happenings of everyday life.
Journaling doesn’t have to be a lovely, perfect book, and it certainly doesn’t have to include your best handwriting and use of grammar. In fact, journaling can happen on scraps of paper, cheap notebooks from the dollar store, on your smartphone, or on your computer. What’s important is the process, not the finished product.
Not sure where to begin? Here are a few prompts:
#1: I am grateful for…
Journaling can be as simple as writing a list every day of several things for which you are grateful. These may be tiny things or huge things. This process helps us to shift our mindset so we can appreciate the people, places, and experiences around us.
#2: Dear self…
Oftentimes, we get so wrapped in our day-to-day tasks that we forget to take time for ourselves. A letter to yourself offers you time to reflect by using your words to define and describe self. What if you speak to yourself the way you would speak to a friend? Would your tone and words change?
#3: I am…
Positive affirmations can be powerful. Caregivers tend to feel overwhelmed and stretched thin, and sometimes it’s hard to focus on all of the things that we are doing well. Make a list of positive affirmations. (e.g. I am doing my best. I am confident and knowledgeable. I love my care receiver, and I am showing love every day.)
#4: When things are challenging, I want to remember…
We can find strength when we remember how resilient we are and when we jog our own memories about what might be helpful during difficult times. We may offer wisdom from what we have overcome in the past, or we may remind ourselves of resources that we can turn to.
#5: Today my victories were…
At the end of the day, we do well to acknowledge and celebrate the good things that happened. These may be big or small. Naming these victories can give us peace of mind so we can rest, and this practice also trains us to adjust our vision so that we can see the positive things that happen throughout the day.
These are just a few of many! For more helpful prompts, search online or check out the book You Want Me to Do What? Journaling for Caregivers by B. Lynn Goodwin.