Years ago, my son suffered a significant health crisis, and our family faced difficult decisions surrounding his care. The alternative treatment methods we’d set our hopes on failed, and doctors told us we had no other choice but to administer medicines with potentially frightening side effects.
Although I initially resisted this advice, my son, the person most directly impacted, was suffering and willing to take the risk. He needed relief. This understanding forced me to combat my fears.
Never in my life was journaling a more important resource than at that moment. My journal was the place where I explored my fears. I wrote extensively about worst-case scenarios and how they’d impact my son’s life. Some of my fears were realistic, while others were pretty wild. For me to parent effectively, each anxiety needed to be gathered and released.
Journaling proved cathartic in a way that simply talking things out did not. Expressive writing helped purge feelings of fear, guilt, and grief that I’d carried with me since my son’s diagnosis. For that, I’m forever grateful.
began because of my belief that everyone deserves access to the power of journaling. With that idea in mind, we’ve cultivated an online community where journaling professionals and journal writers gather for reliable information, empowering support, spirited community, and revolutionary ideas.
Journaling fosters health and well-being because it helps us to see the forest through the trees. The act of writing helps us prioritize the people, places, activities, and work that nurtures wellness in our lives.
I invite you to experiment with a few of my favorite writing prompts.
What Are You Feeling Right Now?
As you go about your day, regularly ask yourself, what am I feeling right now? Don’t sweep your feelings under the rug; think of them as carriers of important information. Write about patterns you’ve observed. Do you harbor more negativity when you’re hungry or when you are tired? Write about the things your feelings revealed to you today.
Inspiration vs. Perspiration
We live in a culture that honors hard work and sweat. To get to the place we aim for, we often set goals. For some people though, goalsetting can trigger a cascade of negative thoughts.
Imagine you’ve set a goal to lose weight. What is the consequence if every day after that you think to yourself, Still fat! Still fat! Still fat! Or let’s say you set a goal to have more money. Instead of joyfully anticipating more money coming in, what happens when your dominant thought is, Still poor! Still poor! Not enough!
This is the “perspiration” method. What if your goal inspires you instead? Inspiration feels like a loving tap on the shoulder, saying: “Do this. It will feel good.”
Journal about your goal.
When I think about my goal, I feel___.
I think I will feel better and be more table to let that goal come to me if I___.
Now visualize that you have achieved your goal. Write about how that feels.
Decide Ahead of Time
If you find yourself constantly overwhelmed, break your day into small, manageable moments. Decide ahead of time not just what you are going to do, but how you will choose to feel about it.
Let’s say you are getting in the car to go somewhere. Before you begin, pause and think, “I am going to have a safe and enjoyable drive and arrive on time.” Slow down, go moment by moment, and decide ahead of time what kind of experience you are going to have. Set your intention for that experience. This is one of the best techniques I know to counter the sensation of being overwhelmed. Try it and see what happens for you!
Write about this technique. Did it work for you?
Rebecca Kochenderfer is the host of the podcast The Power of Journaling and founder of , an online resource guide, information hub, and community for journalers. She is also the author of Joy Journal. As an educator and writer, Rebecca feels privileged to have the opportunity to connect people with tools to help them live their most authentic and inspired life.
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