The Whats and Whys of Journals
Journals are one of the first things mentioned on the list of self-help tips and tricks for trauma survivors who are working on healing. Most therapists recommend journals as part of the treatment plan, often giving homework in this regard.
It is a highly recommended tool for healing because journals are versatile and personal. They are a place for you to record your feelings about the experiences and events that you live through. It is a place where you as a writer can share your most intimate thoughts.
Most self-help books focused on trauma are in workbook format for this very reason; to provide an outlet that encourages personal recording of experiences and emotions.
A Long History
Diaries can be traced back as far as the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in the second half of the 2nd century AD. Throughout history diaries written by prominent figures covering major historical events have been published for the public to read. To give an example, one such publication is the Diary of Anne Frank.
Over the decades, journals have not only maintained their place of acceptance among writers but they have morphed into a tool used for mental well-being, that can be specifically fit to any situation. People use journals to track just about everything they do, as well as what they want to do. From food intake and exercise, to dreams and sleep patterns, in addition to personal thoughts and experience. You can journal anything you want.
How you chose to use a journal is completely up to you based on what you need. Just know, whatever format you use, the benefits are universal.
Here are 6 Reasons to Journal as a Trauma Survivor
When you use a journal as a tool for trauma healing, each time you write you will go on a journey with yourself.
Writing a journal bring clarity to the situation you are writing about. It gives space and time for your words and thoughts to flow until they make sense. It allows the you, as the writer to put everything out on the table for a closer look. It helps you learn to identify what your trigger responses look like in real time.
As clarity take hold, your mind will begin to focus in on the situation and your feelings of overwhelm will begin to calm down. Writing out all of the things that you feel helps your mind look at each emotion one at a time and focus on your mind and body’s responses. It helps you learn where emotional triggers are coming from and how they feel so you can learn how to manage them.
Once you begin to feel yourself focus, as clarity helps your emotions begin to flow without judgement – you will become more present. It is hard not to be present when you are focused and thinking more clearly. This is when proper processing begins. It is in these moments that a you begins to really feel the words flow as emotions and reactions become lessons of guidance rather than an enemy.
When you feel safe, present, and connected to yourself – reflection becomes easier. The mind becomes more receptive to information and perspective. In these moments you will find some answers, pieces of you will heal, and you will come out the other side with new awareness, new skills, new strengths, and new tools.
Sadly, memory is difficult for some trauma survivors. Even the good stuff can get lost in the physiological changes in the brain. Having the ability to go back and re-read helps keep you present, focused, and reflecting in times when you get stuck in emotions and feel like you can’t get out. Your journal will help remind you that you can do this. When writing is hard, when your words get lost, remember to read.
Your journals, whether private or public, are the documented history of you and your progress. Whether it was a specific goal, or a years-long healing journey; your records of the experience are priceless. They are pieces of you that are valid and deserve to be honored.
Read your journals every so often. Remind yourself how far you have come, how much progress you have made, and take comfort in the knowledge that you haven’t given up.
I hope this helps you if you are considering a journal as part of your healing tool-kit. Try not to get overwhelmed by the though of a journal, it’s so personal – there is not right or wrong way to do it. Find what flows best for you are go with it.
Or you can just write ever comes to mind. Whatever you decide, I wish you well on your journey.
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