Heal My Voice Author and Board Member
Journaling 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:
Here are some books on journaling and writing to explore, too!
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
- Journey Notes: Writing for Recovery & Spiritual Growth by Richard Solly & Roseann Lloyd
- Writing from the Body by John Lee
- Creative Journal Writing by Stephanie Dowrick
- The Daily Writer by Fred White
- Writing Begins with the Breath by Laraine Herring
- Writing as a Sacred Path by Jill Jepson
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!
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:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/bethterrence