Journaling: How it’s Helped This Mom’s Mental Health
The past two-and-a-half years have come with a whirlwind of changes looming at every corner. From welcoming triplets to my husband’s lay off from work and all the events in between and after. There really hasn’t been a dull moment.
Although we remind ourselves daily how very blessed we are to have five healthy children, our life is far from easy. We plan every aspect of our day, scheduling helpers, appointments, and extracurricular activities.
The thing is, managing a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old was difficult enough as is, but bringing three infants home from the hospital can rapidly trigger some very high levels of stress and anxiety. I have to admit, I didn’t really know how to process all the change.
My husband and I would frequently meet other couples while stocking up on diapers at the store. The wife would tell me how blessed I was, while the husband muttered under his breath, “better you than me.” I know this wasn’t meant to be hurtful, but it was pretty clear no one wanted to be in my shoes. And while being called a “supermom” or “superwoman” is a nice sentiment and would briefly put a smile on my face, I think the best word to describe me was “defeated.”
However, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many diapers I’ve changed, bottles I’ve washed, or meals I’ve prepared, I was allowing my feelings and emotions to bottle up. I never made ‘me time’ a priority or practiced any self care. I had to be home. So I needed something to help me cope and manage the stress.
Journaling for Self-Care
Whether I have good or bad day, I journal. It only takes a few minutes of my day. It has helped me a great deal to reduce my stress and achieve my goals, as well as helped me heal though some really bad times. Going back to some of those journal entries has shown proof of my accomplishments and the goals I have reached — how far we have come, both individually and as a family. I, for one, have always been intimidated by change. I no longer can think that way. These changes have made me a very different person and not in a good or bad way, just a very different person. I have seen that through my journals.
Tips for Journaling
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, “one of the ways to deal with any overwhelming emotion is to find a healthy outlet in which to express yourself, which makes a journal a helpful tool in managing your mental health.”
Journaling can help:
- Manage anxiety
- Reduce Stress
- Cope with Depression
Journaling helps control your symptoms and improve mood by:
- Helping prioritize problems, fears, and concerns
- Tracking any symptoms day-t0-day so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them
- Provide an opportunity for positive self-talk and identify negative thoughts and behaviors
Personally, journaling has not only become a self-care practice but a lifestyle. I encourage anyone struggling through stress to journal.
How to Stay Positive
According to Psychology Today, there can be good and bad in journaling. Follow some suggested items to stay positive and focused and to have it be beneficial to your mental well being.
- Write a few sentences about a problem or negative feeling that you believe need expression
- Try to look objectively at the thoughts, emotions and behaviors you expressed
- See if you can convert the negative energy of this experience into positive creativity and growth
- Ask how you can learn and grow from this experience
- Develop a plan of action for future situations.
Human Resource Director
Clarity Clinic NWI
Ballas, P. and Fraser, M. Journaling for Mental Health. urmc.rochester.edu.
Stosny, S. Ph.D. Psychology Today. The Good and the Bad of Journaling.