Learning to Journal

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What is journaling?

  Simply put, journaling is getting your thoughts down on paper. It can be a way to clear your mind and document a journey – a journey of any type.  Early research into the benefits of expressive writing for people with cancer found that women with breast cancer who wrote about their deepest thoughts and feelings reported the fewest symptoms and had the fewest unscheduled visits to their doctors. A more recent study showed similar benefits in reducing symptoms and improving physical function for people with kidney cancer who did expressive writing exercises. Another study published in 2008 showed that even one 20-minute writing session may be enough to immediately change the way people with cancer think and feel about their disease!

  Although researchers differ in their explanations of why putting thoughts down on paper is so effective, it seems this practice allows people to simply process and express their feelings.

A few of the benefits of journaling include:

   • Goal clarifying

   • Mind freeing

   • Better sleep

   • Fatigue reduction

   • Psychological adjustment to a cancer diagnosis and treatment

How to journal.

  Since there is no “wrong way” to journal - there should be no stress.  It can be hard to start but it will very quickly become a natural habit. Think about making journaling part of your daily routine. Find a few minutes in the morning, before bed, whatever works best for you, and let go. If you have feelings of anxiety, nervousness, happiness, whatever – just jot it down.

There are many different types of journaling - here are just a few you may want to explore:

   • Gratitude journaling: write down everything for which you are grateful. This focuses your attention on positive aspects of your life.

   • Stream-of-consciousness writing: write down everything that comes to mind. This unstructured, unedited writing will reflect your raw thoughts  

      and observations.

   • Art journaling: draw, doodle, or scrapbook what you are feeling and thinking.

   • Line-a-day journaling: limit yourself to a single line or sentence for the entire day.

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The actual steps to journaling are quite easy

• Gather a simple notebook used only for your journaling, along with a pen or pencil

• Find a quiet space to sit and ‘compose’

• Decide on what 'type' of journaling to try....for example: gratitude journaling, stream-of-consciousness, art journaling, or line-a day. As an aside, just because you chose one form of journaling today, you can always move to another form tomorrow. Remember, there are no rules!

• Now write without boundaries....and enjoy the process.

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There’s something truly cathartic about writing.....take the opportunity to release your mind.....it’s just another step in your healing.