So, here’s the thing… a stress journal is super helpful, if you let it be. It can be one of the most useful things, or it can be extremely detrimental if you don’t use it correctly. Here is another thing… a stress journal is personal, and the way you use it is also up to you. I can’t tell you how exactly a stress journal should work, because it is different for different people. But I can give you some of my own tips and tricks as to how I use it and how it has helped and evolved over time!
I started using a stress journal several years ago after my doctor suggested it when I told her about the anxiety I was having. I put a notebook by the side of my bed and if I got stressed out or anxious about anything, I would write it in the journal. I would take just two minutes at the end of the day to write things down before I went to sleep and it really did help for the most part, but when I made it too routine, it started to be a little bit detrimental. Here’s what I mean…
I got so into the routine of writing in my stress journal, that even if I were completely calm I would take out the journal to write things down. I started to make up stresses where there were none, which would in turn put those stresses in my head anyways. So, in the past month or so, I have started leaving my stress journal across the room on my chair. I only write in it if I am stressing out about something and it has really helped. I no longer stress about things that aren’t there, but only write down the things that have caused me to be overwhelmed, so I am able to let it go. Here are some of my tips and tricks….
- Only write in the journal when absolutely needed: Do not take the time to make it a routine. That sounds hard, especially if you have anxiety or OCD, but really… I can be detrimental and cause you more stress than you need to have!
- Do not look back on previous stresses: I used to do this a lot. If my list didn’t seem long enough, I would look back at the stresses from the day before to “remind myself” what I was stressed out about. Makes no sense. Seriously. Do not look back on previous stresses because it just brings them back and you take two steps forward and one step back!
- Try not to write the same thing over and over again: I also did this a lot. Partly because I looked back on previous stresses. The constantly writing down of the same thing defeats the whole purpose of a stress journal! When you write that stress down, you are supposed to let it go, not hold onto it so you can continue to put it in your stress journal.
- Do not set a certain amount of stresses you “should” have”: When I first started writing in my stress journal, I had this idea that I should have several things to be stressed about, or I wasn’t doing it right. Therefore, I would make things up that weren’t really there just so I could get to that certain amount. Stupid… I know, but it happens! I did it all the time and brought things up from my past that didn’t need to be brought up again!
- Write even the irrational ones down: Seriously though. This is what a stress journal is all about. If you have an irrational fear, don’t feel weird writing it down, because the journal is personal! You don’t have to tell anyone the fear or the stress. I have had a serious fear of a spider crawling into my mouth and it took me a while to write it down because it is such a weird and irrational fear, but if I don’t write it down, the stress journal is a waste of time.
So there are several of my tips and tricks for having a stress journal. Do you have a stress journal?? Or do you want to start one?? Let us know about what works and doesn’t work for you! We would love to hear about it!