Benefits of Journaling for Self-care
Let’s face it; supporting someone living with memory challenges is stressful for families and can lead to a multitude of health concerns when left unaddressed. Creating a “toolbox” of stress-reduction strategies that can be incorporated into the family members’ daily routines can assist in combating such negative effects. One such strategy is journaling. Studies have shown that routine journaling can improve mood, immune system responses, and even blood pressure. Research shows that people who express gratitude are happier people. Here are tips on how and why to begin to incorporate journaling into your daily or weekly routine.
- Set a small time goal of 5-10 minutes for a journal entry and be lenient if it doesn’t happen daily. Write as often as you can for as long as you would like. One day it may just be a word of gratitude or a prayer for help. Another day, it might be a meaningful story you don’t want to forget.
- Journaling creates time for reflection, insight, and even problem-solving. Journaling about a specific scenario provides an opportunity to find creative solutions.
- Many emotions arise on a daily. Using a journal as an outlet to identify specific emotions and/or conflicts can assist in stress reduction. This can also help a caregiver discover his or her own wants or unmet needs and promote change.
- Regular journaling can assist in identifying patterns or trends in a loved one’s behavior that can be modified for improved ease of caregiving and minimize stress for the individual. For instance “Mom was angry again when I asked her to take a shower tonight. Tomorrow I think I will try to ask her during the daytime before she gets too tired.”
- Remember that your journal is for you only. Do not worry about writing perfect sentences or having flawless grammar (unless you enjoy that). A journal is a place for unedited thoughts, fresh ideas, insights, praise reports, and struggles. It is a creative outlet for the mind as well as the heart.
- Journaling provides an opportunity to press the “pause” button on life for just a moment. Some days feel like there is never a moment of rest; however, by making the effort to sit down and journal for just a short period of time, respite can be achieved. This time is invaluable and necessary for someone providing care to another.
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
If you, a friend or family member living with memory loss or dementia and would be interested in learning more about our Memory Ministry, Memory Café, or our Virtual support group, please contact Vicky Pitner at firstname.lastname@example.org