Journaling ~ “a record of experiences, ideas, or reflections kept regularly for private use”; a valued coping skill for those with Chronic Pain
Research has shown that journaling can have numerous mental health benefits related to and research has also found that it can help with the physical aspects of chronic pain including…
*Managing and reducing stress, anxiety and depression
*Improved mood/affect and sense of psychological well-being
*Fewer post-traumatic “intrusion and avoidance” symptoms
*Reduced blood pressure and better immune system and lung functioning
*Providing an opportunity for positive self-talk, including focusing upon gratitude, and identifying negative thoughts and behaviors
*Recognizing and prioritizing problems, fears, and concerns
Journaling can also be used to help control pain triggers and flairs:
By tracking your day-to-day activities, events, and moods you can identify connections and patterns and learn to recognize potential pain triggers and ways to better control them.
When you have a problem, keeping a journal can help you identify what’s causing or affecting it. Then, once you’ve identified your stressors, you can work on a plan to resolve the problems, keeping in mind that journaling is just one aspect of a healthy lifestyle for better managing physical and mental health conditions.
There are different types of journaling including:
Journaling in the Traditional Diary Method– This is your basic journal that can be utilized in all manner of ways, in other words there are no rules. A list of 30 reflective journal prompts can be found at PsychCentral.
Pain Management Journal- The American Chronic Pain Association has a vast wealth of logs, charts, scales and other materials that can be downloaded, organized and/or modified to create a pain management journal unique to you, your condition and needs. They also have an interactive web-based pain dairy/journal you can use.
Keeping a Gratitude Journal– Ideas for how to get started and inspirational gratitude idea-starters can be found from The UC Berkeley Greater Good site here.
Art Journaling- Quite a number of very straight forward ideas, inspirations and directions can be found at the artist Aisling’s site here. There is even an Art Journaling magazine devoted to the topic.
Art-Therapy Journaling-A list of topic ideas from Psychology Today can be found here and a look at some of Carl Jung’s journals, considered by some to be the grandfather of art-therapy journaling, can be found here.
Journaling as a Spiritual Practice– A great book, “Life’s Companion” written by Christina Brown, an author of a number of books on the topic, offers many helpful writing/journaling ideas and prompts as well as examples to help us through and within life’s journey and too, invite the sacred (which she defines as “whatever you mean by the words you use for spirit”) to walk with us on the way.
And as Ms. Brown says, ” May we write through the night… until writing brings us light.”