Journaling For Health And Well-Being

by Healmyvoice on July 7, 2014

By Beth Terrence

Heal My Voice Author and Board Member

Member-JournalingJournaling or reflective writing is a practice that has been around for a long time.  Whether someone is a “writer” or not, really matters little when it comes to personal writing.  Journaling is simply a way to express and explore our life experiences and ourselves on a deeper level through the written word or even through art or imagery, too.  It doesn’t have to be for anyone but ourselves.  And, it is an exciting time as we are now seeing the scientific evidence supporting the benefit of this simple practice for our overall health and well-being.

University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker has done extensive research on the benefits of journaling.  He has found that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes.  Other research has indicated that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.  Pennebaker believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, thereby reducing the impact of stressors on your physical health.  He recommends writing for 20 minutes per day.

Additionally, the benefits go way beyond your physical health.  Scientific evidence has discovered that the act of writing actually accesses your left brain, which is the analytical and rational part.  When you begin writing, your left brain becomes engaged freeing your right brain to create, intuit and feel.  So, in a sense, writing takes you out of your head and into your heart.  This allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you.  The act of writing is helping you to access your creativity on a deeper level.

Journaling helps you to:

  • Clarify your thoughts and feelings.
  • Know yourself better.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Be healthier.
  • Solve problems more effectively.
  • Resolve disagreements with others
  • Practice good self-care
  • Access your creativity
  • Release and Express Held Memories & Emotions
  • Set Intentions

You may be saying to yourself, “But, I’m not a writer, so how can journaling work for me?”  There are many ways to explore journaling and many types of practices.  Writing offers an opportunity to explore who you are, what are your likes and dislikes, and your strengths and weaknesses.  It is a vehicle to find your voice and explore ways you can flow more easily with life.

Here are some ways you can explore writing and journaling:

  • Stream Of Consciousness ~ Just put the pen on the paper and let whatever words come to mind flow onto the page
  • List Writing (e.g. Make a list of Feelings, Choices, Losses, Things You Enjoy, Topics for Writing, Triggers, Self-Care Toolbox, Favorites, etc.)
  • Gratitude – Make a list of everything you are grateful for – this can be a powerful daily practice
  • Affirmations & Intentions – For the day, month, year or as you feel to
  • Prayers/Blessings - Write for yourself, family, friends, the world…
  • Meditations – Pick a topic like peace, love, happiness, etc.
  • Poetry – Explore haiku or free verse.  Write a poem or read a poem and write what it means to you.
  • Just For Today I will… – Write 
  • Letter Writing (e.g. To Self, Family, Friends, Higher Power, Past/Future)
  • Holistic Exploration – Do A Check-In or Self-Care Review For Body, Mind, Emotion & Spirit
  • Morning Pages – Do three handwritten stream of consciousness pages first thing every morning (from The Artist’s Way)
  • Or, try Dr. Pennebaker’s Basic Writing Assignment:

writing_pull1

Here are some books on journaling and writing to explore, too!

I hope you’ll take some time to explore journaling for health and well-being.  If you don’t have a journal, you may wish to browse around for a journal that feels meaningful to you.  Or, just pick up a composition book or blank sketchbook and you are ready to go.  If you want to, you can decorate it and use the words or images to inspire your writing.  Maybe you want to make one journal dedicated to self-care or gratitude practice.  Be creative, explore and enjoy!

If you have any journaling practices or tools that you’d like to share, feel free to drop us a note in the comments below.  We love to hear from you – YOUR VOICE MATTERS!

 

bethbro

Beth Terrence is a Shaman, Holistic Health & Wellness Expert, Speaker and Writer.  She has been working in the field of Holistic Healing and Transformation for over 18 years.  This path evolved from her own healing journey through fibromyalgia and the impact of trauma on her life.  Beth found that by taking a holistic approach to life and well-being, she was able to achieve of a state of happiness and wholeness that she never imagined was possible.  Her mission is to support others in cultivating a heart-centered, balanced and joyful life through discovering the healer within.

Writing has always been one of Beth’s greatest passions.  Since childhood, she has written poetry and kept a journal.  Participating in a Heal My Voice project opened the door to Beth stepping forward in the world as a writer.  Her stories are featured in Inspired Voices: True Stories of Visionary Women and Harmonic Voices: True Stories Of Women On The Path To Peace.  Beth joined the Heal My Voice board of directors in May 2013.  Additionally, she is the lead facilitator and program developer for a Heal My Voice program that brings writing and creativity to women in addiction recovery at Chrysalis House in Crownsville, MD.

Beth is available for Integrative Transformational Healing Sessions & Programs by Phone/Skype or in person in Annapolis, MD.  She offers a variety of classes, workshops and trainings on Holistic Healing, Transformation, Writing and Creativity in the MD/DC/VA area and virtually.  Beth also writes regularly on her own blog, The Heart Of Awakening: Searching For A New Paradigm, an online resource for transformation and healing. To learn more about Beth’s Integrative Transformational Healing Services, visit http://www.bethterrence.com.

Beth’s Take A Break Summer Special Offer:

20% Off All Sessions By Phone/Skype Or In Person In Annapolis, MD Summer is a the perfect time to relax, reflect and renew.  We’ve passed the Solstice so the days are beginning to get shorter once again but the Fire energy of summer is still very strong through July 22nd.  The intensity of this Yang energy can take a toll on our system – it is still very expansive but a part of us is beginning to pull within. With the outward energy of summer, increased social activities and extreme heat and humidity, our systems can more easily move out of balance.  It may not be uncommon to experience fatigue, headaches, and intense waves of emotions during this time.  I invite you to come for a healing session to support your overall balance and ease of well-being.  Take A Break ~ Relax, Reflect & Renew! Integrative Healing Sessions may include Shamanic Healing, Bach Flower Remedies, Zero Balancing, Body/Energy Therapies, Meditation, Holistic Self-Care and other holistic resources to support transformation and healing on all levels – body, mind, emotion and spirit. Learn more about Beth’s Take A Break Summer Special Offer and Integrative Transformational Healing Services in July’s Discover The Healer Within E-News

Where To Connect With Beth:

Website: www.bethterrence.com

Blog: http://theheartofawakening.wordpress.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/bethterrence

Twitter: @BethTerrence

Contact: beth@bethterrence.com

     

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Maryann July 7, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Love these suggestions. Helpful in giving myself permission to invest the time to just write.

Thank you.

Maryann Hesse

Reply

Healmyvoice July 9, 2014 at 11:24 pm

Hi Maryann! Thanks for you note and glad you enjoyed the post. Many blessings, Beth.

Reply

Kristen July 7, 2014 at 1:41 pm

As someone who has done a daily “Morning Pages” practice for years now I can definitely feel the affects of all of the wonderful benefits of journaling discussed in this article. I find that my mind is less cluttered and that I have a place to leave my worries so that I’m not carrying them with me throughout the day. There have been times where I have neglected this practice and have seen agitation and stress slowly creep into and take over my life. The daily purging definitely keeps it at all at bay!

Reply

Healmyvoice July 9, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Hi Kristen. Thanks for sharing about your experience and the benefits of morning pages. I agree they are a great tool for finding clarity and balance. All the best, Beth.

Reply

Cassandra July 10, 2014 at 3:25 am

Thank you for the suggestions. I really resonate with the holistic exploration one. I have never really thought about journaling about my self-care, but am going to commit to doing it at the beginning of the week and at the end.

Reply

Dawn Herring July 17, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Beth,
I love your comprehensive approach toward showing journaling as great for your health and well being, from the supporting evidence of physical benefits to the openness of how we go about writing an entry. You give some great ideas to make journaling fresh every day which is vitally important to keep such a healthful habit.

I have chosen your post, Journaling for Health and Well Being, for Dawn’s #JournalChat Favorite on 7/17/14. I will share a link on my website, in Refresh Journal, as well as the social networks, including our #JournalChat Live Facebook Group! Thanks so much for your interest and contribution to our group.

Here’s to Health with our journaling!
Be refreshed,
Dawn Herring

Reply

Healmyvoice July 23, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Hi Dawn! Thanks again for your note and for stopping by Heal My Voice! Also, for sharing the post on #JournalChat. I love all you do to support journaling in the world! Feels like there’s lots of synergy and looking forward to sharing and exploring more with you and the JournalChat community. Love & light, Beth.

Reply

Nathan Ohren July 17, 2014 at 11:22 pm

Beth, wonderful article! Thanks for sharing this. I love that you added Pennebaker’s basic journal-writing assignment. A classic, yet simple and easy to follow. It has been the standard for studies on writing and wellness connections for decades, and continues to prove great health benefits from journaling. You would enjoy this interview with Dr. John Evans, with more info on the Pennebaker Paradigm here: http://www.write4life.us/writing-to-heal/ Cheers!

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