The holidays are upon us! We in the United States have just celebrated Thanksgiving, and in that spirit, I want to thank each of you for being a part of the LifeJournal family. I appreciate your dedication to journal writing, your interest in deepening and expanding your journaling skills and your trust in our journaling tools and solutions.
The holiday season brings a burst of traveling, party-going, visiting, cooking, eating, and gift buying/giving/receiving. It’s fun and irritating. Exciting and stressful. This month’s newsletter has an article by wellness coach Lynda Monk, who writes about how to Journal Your Way to Less Stress During the Holidays.
From the LifeJournal family to yours, wishing you peaceful, joyful, and low stress holidays,
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Journal Your Way to Less Stress During the Holidays
by Lynda Monk
All stress is in the eye of the beholder. What is stressful for one person, for example, last minute shopping during the busy holiday season, is someone else’s favorite thing to do! The key to managing stress at any time of year is first, knowing what things you find stressful, and secondly, being proactive with managing and coping with stress versus avoiding it.
We can’t always choose or control the stressors (the thing that causes us to feel stressed, for example, financial pressures, traffic jams, an argument with a loved one, etc.) that come into our lives, but we can choose how we manage and respond to these stressors. Stress is a normal part of life; it can inspire us to action or overwhelm us, depending on the situation and our unique circumstances.
Most stress occurs when we feel we can’t cope adequately. Journaling is both a way of coping and also helps us see that we are coping (or not) and raises our awareness so we can make the necessary changes.
Stress management is part of our overall health and well-being. When we are exposed to high levels of stress overtime it can weaken our immune systems, increase blood pressure, impair our thinking and make us sick. Stress (the physiological response to stressors, sometimes called the “fight or flight” response) is one of the leading causes of illness and disease in our fast paced modern world.
Journaling is a proven strategy for reducing and healing stress in our lives. In other words, journaling is good for your health and you can in fact write your way to wellness. Journaling is like meditating with a pen in your hand – it helps you slow down, reflect, and return to center within yourself. Journaling is a way of coming home to what matters most to you. It helps you see your life and your choices more clearly so you can be empowered to live true to your wants, needs, and highest sense of well-being in every area of your life. Journaling is a self-caring and self-loving act.
Writing for wellness involves expressing your thoughts and feelings within the pages of your journal, moving beyond simply documenting the happenings of your day. Writing to heal stress involves paying attention to your life. When you write to raise your awareness you make empowered choices that flow from this deeper self-awareness. This is the heart of writing for healing, renewal, and greater well-being: embracing awareness, listening within, trusting yourself. and taking inspired action.
Here are three ideas to help you journal your way to less stress during this holiday season:
1) Write about your stressors and feelings of stress. This may sound counterintuitive but it is known as emotion-focused coping where you literally write it all down and honestly express how you are feeling to find some stress relief. This is also called emotional catharsis or clearing – and it can be extremely helpful. Trying to ignore our feelings of stress can be a bit like trying to cap a volcano. Sometimes we just need to get the stressful emotions out to get to the other side, to get to a place that feels better and less stressful.
2) Pause and ask questions. Stop part way through writing in your journal and ask yourself: “What I notice about what I wrote is…” or “What I feel about what I wrote is…” This allows you to gain new insights and deepen your personal growth through journaling. Pausing helps creates spaciousness in both you and your writing, helping you de-stress within the pages of your journal. This technique creates a more expansive, “what’s-possible-here?” energy within you, counteracting the constrictive and tightening energy of stress. You can do this with your breath too – inhale, pause, exhale. Remember that this pause between your inhale and your exhale is always available to you.
3) Affirmative writing. Write in as much detail about how you want to feel during the holidays, who you want to be with, what you want to do. When you use the affirmative writing journaling technique, write about the future in the present tense. It is a way of writing things down in order to help make them happen. Try it: Write about your most ideal upcoming holiday season in as much rich detail as you can, including how you want to feel throughout the holidays. This will help you have a stress-free holiday!
The journal is a wide open space to fill with not only challenges or difficulties, but also a place to express your deepest desires, your dreams and the highest expression of who you are and what you want to manifest in your life. As such, journaling is a companion and a practice that can help you manage and reduce stress in your daily life.
This holiday season, pour yourself a cup of peppermint chai, cozy up beside the fire, play your favorite music and write your way to your best holiday season ever! Remember, how we do anything is how we do everything – so let the pages of your journal be filled with joy, discovery, and feelings of well-being.
Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC is a Writing for Wellness coach who specializes in teaching heart-centered people who make a difference how to use reflective journaling to reduce stress, prevent burnout and listen within for wisdom and well-being. She is the founder of Creative Wellness (creativewellnessworks.com) and author of Life Source Writing™: a 5-step reflective journaling method.
Here’s information about the next monthly IAJW telechat:
Our next IAJW telechat is with author, Jung analyst, and mindfulness teacher
When Change is Unwelcome:
Open only to IAJW members, who attend the telechat at no cost.
“If the problem can be solved, why worry? If the problem cannot be solved worrying will do you no good.” –Santideva
“Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.”—Hans Selye
“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.”–Peter Marshall
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