Are you anxious, worried, stressed? Try this: it works.

Are you anxious, worried, stressed? Try this: it works.

Are you anxious, worried and stressed about big things, little things and things that have yet to happen?

If so you are, as I’m sure you know, not alone. Stress, caused by a myriad of things, is one of the major reasons for sleepless nights, sick days from work all the up to both very serious and permanent consequences.

Although it is wonderful to think we can go out there and change the world, the truth is that if I tried to change the world and remove all stress from it, the stress would get me long before I could ever make any significant progress in “getting” it.

So what is the answer?

If I say “handling stress” you may say “yes, of course, but I’ve tried that.” And yes, there are many, many ways of handling and reducing stress. Some are do-it-yourself, like exercise, meditation and healthy living in general. Some need to assistance of doctor or some kind of health care practitioner.

But I am talking about one that not too many people do. It is journaling.

Before you exhale in exasperation and move on, I invite you to read just a little farther and find out what journaling has to offer that perhaps you have not previously considered.

Journaling is really talking to yourself and is especially beneficial if you focus on just one topic and target that as you write. For the purposes of this article, obviously I am thinking of you focusing on stress or rather how you can reduce the stress. What is causing you to feel stressed? How to you feel? What exactly are the symptoms you are experiencing? (Not everyone experiences the effects of stress in the same way.)

Just write. Once you get out all the difficult stuff – and a few, or many tears along the way is good – start asking yourself how you can make things better for yourself.

You are your number one concern here. Even if the stress is harming others around you, to quote my grandmother (mother of nine) “You have to take care of yourself first, because if you don’t, you will not be in any condition to take care of anyone else.”

So what would make things better for you? You may not be able to change the situation at all, but how can you change how you view it, how you approach it? What would make it more bearable?

Even without having a bad attitude, it can often be our attitude to something that is making it more difficult for us. For example, I was told one time that major changes were happening at work. I did not like what I was hearing and I did not like what I imagined the impact on me and my job would be. So I got myself all stressed and upset. I didn’t say anything to anyone at work, because the changes were necessary and I knew nothing I said or did would change them. But I really was miserable. I was angry. I had loved this job and now it looked like it was going to be a real pain. I didn’t want to leave, but what could I do?

Until I journaled about it, and I asked myself “So if it all goes ahead as planned, what is the best thing about that? How can I change how I approach it so it will be OK for me?

As I continued down the page, I started to come up with ways of looking at the new developments. I couldn’t change anything, so there was no point in fantasizing about how it “could” be. Instead I just focused on how I could change my view and my attitude. I started to see other ways of looking at it. I started to see, believe it or not, benefits to me in the new set-up. I started to see ways in which I could change my mindset to allow me to cope with the new situation.

In some situations you will be just unable to find any benefits to yourself, but with some journaling, some expression of how you feel, and why you feel it, you will eventually be able to start coming up with ways in which you can learn to cope.

What new things can you do, or what things you already do can you start doing differently? Who can help? Do you know them already, or does this take going to new places and getting involved with new people? Do you know anyone who had previously been in this situation and come through it successfully? Think back and see if you can understand how they did it.

And all the while, keep journaling. Keep writing it all down. It is therapeutic right now as you write, and it can be equally as therapeutic later on when you re-read what you wrote.

Go back to your journal and write regularly. As things start to become calmer, less stressed, keep journaling. Re-read past entries to appreciate how far you have come. Journaling not only gives you a clear, un-warped view of the past, it helps you see the present more clearly.

And once you are coping with this crisis, don’t stop journaling. You have now created a habit that can help you in just about every situation you can come across in the rest of your life. Journal for your emotional health. Journal for your future happiness. Journal.

Enjoy life – relax

Fiona MacKay Young

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