OFFBEAT Penning your thoughts can help you beat stress, plan effectively and look back on the good times with nostalgia
Can we write off stress, just by putting it on paper? Well many scientific studies have validated that diary writing can be a stress buster and bring down worry, depression and anxiety.
When we have too many thoughts in our minds, writing them down de-clutters our minds, and we feel cleansed.
“A chaotic mind with too many thoughts is like a house with too much furniture strewn around. When you journal, it lets you throw out all the conflicting thoughts. Then, you get the space to pick and keep what is needed,” narrates Shiv, a marketing professional and an avid diary writer.
It was a tempestuous time for him when he relocated from his ancestral home to a flat near his children’s school.
“It was a stressful time and I turned to my diary, of course”, he says. After a few sessions of journaling, as diary writing is otherwise known, he made peace with his decision to relocate.
“Journaling works like a safety valve. Your emotionality comes down. And sometimes, when we look back at those jottings, we wonder why we felt so upset at such trivialities,” remarks Lakshmi Vijayakumar, consultant psychiatrist, researcher and founder of the NGO Sneha.
Vishal, a precocious child, uses diary writing as a tool to express his chain of thoughts.
“I always take a diary or at least a few sheets of paper with me — even to family functions, to ensure that Vishal has a way of venting out his feelings and thoughts,” says his mother Vidhya.
Some counsellors recommend people suffering from stress and other issues to keep a journal of the stressful episodes in their life. This diary is supposed to journal not just the event and feelings but also details such as time, place, the persons and issues involved.
This can be used to review the events, spot patterns and triggers for stress, and work out solutions.
Initially, it feels presumptuous and narcissistic to write volumes on our thoughts and feelings.
“The challenge is in writing the first few lines. Thereupon, you tend to write in a rush and don’t feel like stopping at all,” Shiv says. If you still feel blank and don’t know how to begin, start with factual descriptions of your activities, what you saw, heard, said etc…
Soon you will be able to chronicle your emotions.
Diary writing works only if you are totally honest. If you write to project an image or to fit to the self-image in your mind, it becomes a useless exercise.
Some of us journal on laptops, some others on pen and paper . Some of us journal to look back, while others journal to outline their future. Some people write at specific times such as bed time, while other do whenever they fancy.
Of course, diary writing has become less prevalent now, but, all those who are into it find that journaling makes them feel lighter, and more at peace.