By Emsie Martin
It is a year since our lives as we knew it changed and many of us feel as if we have missed out on some things in life. You have to remind yourself constantly to be grateful for what you still have after this Covid-19 year and that you have made it this far. You may also have very bad memories about the past year; an ideal way to share your experiences is by jotting them down in a journal – for yourself and no-one else.
Entering your thoughts in a journal is not something you do to pass the time, it has many benefits.
- For many it is a way of processing their emotions. Experts are of the opinion that when you write down your thoughts and emotions, you are busy with a process of self-examination and your mental attitude changes from being negative to being more positive.
- Writing down your thoughts also helps to decrease stress and anxiety because you have a place where you can express your emotions. In this way you get things out of your head and your thoughts on to paper.
- Studies have shown that by sitting down and writing down your feelings for
about 15 minutes can even lower your blood pressure. Entering your thoughts in a journa, lets you use the analytical, rational left side of the brain as well as the creative, emotional side.
- It helps to promote creativity and problem-solving and improves your physical and psychological wellbeing.
This therapy applies to everyone. When you are in a problematic situation at home, at work, wherever, and feel no-one understands, it creates an outlet for your deepest emotions that you can’t share with anyone else. Even with all the current technology, good old pen and paper is still the best way for this exercise. Perhaps you could even put your journal in your handbag or computer bag and write down a thought before you overthink it altogether.
Derine Louw, a psychologist in Belville, says, “To write down our experiences – whether positive or negative – is like tidying up a very messy office and making sense of life experiences”.
There is no recipe. Some days you will fill pages and on others you might struggle two write two sentences. If you are considering it but don’t know where to begin, get a notebook and every day write down three things for which you are grateful.
To focus on your gratitude and writing it down, draws your attention away from everything that is wrong to something more positive. It encourages you to focus on the good things, regardless of the obstacles. That on which you focus is a simple way of reprogramming your brain to take note of the positive things.
Another way to begin is with the exercise, 50 Things that Make me Happy, by Claire Holden. This exercise reflects on the things that make us happy, not just a holiday or things that excite you, but the most important, the small, everyday things: The birds in the morning when you wake up, the sun on your face, your feet in the sand on the beach. Only when you begin to acknowledge these small moments of joy, will you become more aware of them.
Remember that what you write in your journal is for your eyes only. You don’t need to be 100% correct regarding language, spelling and punctuation. Just write what is in your heart. Empty the cup running over in your heart and mind and about which you cannot speak to others. Write about things that niggle you, feelings that leave you in doubt, people who hurt and belittle you, the dark pit of depression, or simply the things that make you feel good. In this way you progress to a better you!
There is a beautiful quote by Mina Murray that sums it up best: “Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time”.
This is an outlet for any person in any occupation. Solidarity’s occupational guilds offer a network through which members can contact one another. Visit the link https://guilds.solidarity.co.za/ for more information.
https://retiresuccessfully.co.za/get-journaling/ – Lyndsay Barr.