“You’re going to need a biopsy.”
I hadn’t expected to hear those words. My head felt heavy as I tried to process the weight of what the radiologist had just said to me.
It was just supposed to be a routine mammogram.
Instead, I was facing a potentially life-changing diagnosis, and that realization created a tsunami-sized wave of anxiety within me.
I waited for a full week for the biopsy.
And then I waited another three days for my test results.
During those fear-filled days that I spent waiting, I was grateful for the blank pages of my journal. There, I was able to unload my anxiety. There, I was able to release the range of emotions that bubbled up inside me. There, I was able to play out “what ifs” and “worst case scenarios”—just in case. And between my worries, I also managed to find glimpses of hope and gratitude on the pages as well.
In the end, I received the good news I was hoping for: the area of concern turned out to be benign. But what I learned through that journey is that expressive writing can be an incredibly powerful tool when you’re worried about your health.
Managing Your Mindset Through Journaling
Your mindset is vital when you’re navigating most life challenges, but health challenges can be particularly troubling. When stress levels run high, lingering negative thoughts can interfere with the healing process.
That’s because when you allow fear to consume your mind, there’s little space left for important things like considering treatment options and making important decisions about how to best care for your body.
Your journal can help you manage your mindset by offering a safe space to express what you’re feeling without numbing or suppressing what is true for you. Journaling offers a healthy way to release the intense emotions, worries, and fears that inevitably surface when you face the unknown.
Moving Through Difficult Times
One of the best things about journaling is that it can help you move through difficult times more easily. This often helps lead you to the answers you’re looking for.
While the writing process itself can sometimes feel chaotic or disorganized, there are always nuggets of wisdom hidden within your words.
Here are some helpful tips for using your journal to move through difficult times:
Focus on Solutions
Solutions offer hope, and keeping your mind focused on how to solve problems will help you avoid getting stuck in them.
Try using your journal to play with “If ___, then ___” scenarios. For example, “If my test results are X, then Y would be the next best step.” Having a plan ready can help ease the anxiety that often comes with uncertainty.
Identify Your Options
In moments of uncertainty, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Use your journal to keep a running list of your options to move forward.
Bring your journal to your health appointments. Make lists of the questions you want to ask your medical team at your next visit. Create a bucket list of the things you want to do when you’re feeling up to it.
Don’t suppress the uncomfortable feelings that you experience. Instead, give yourself permission to feel everything, allowing all feelings—both positive and negative—plenty of space to flow through.
Suppressing intense emotions can be damaging to your body in ways you may not even realize. Left to linger, stress can be physically and emotionally damaging. It can impair the healing process, and prevent you from taking good care of yourself.
Allow yourself to feel everything so the strong emotions can flow out of you.
Know When to Ask for Support
Knowing when to ask for support can be tricky. If you’re not ready to talk about what you’re going through, your journal can become a trusted friend. Unlike well-meaning friends and family members, your journal won’t grill you with questions, tell you how you should or shouldn’t feel, or offer unsolicited advice.
But if and when you’re ready, you may decide that you need to ask for help or support. Whether it’s having a casual conversation with a close friend, or asking someone to accompany
you to a medical procedure, spend some time journaling about what would be most helpful and supportive for you.
Manifestation Through Journaling
Journaling can also be a catalyst for manifestation.
While I waited for my test results, I would add random notes to my journal—"Get benign results”—as if I was adding celery to my grocery list. Those powerful words became my mantra.
Instead of dwelling on the outcome I didn’t want and feeding my worries, my journal helped me focus my attention on what I did want.
You could choose a simple mantra and write it down over and over again in your journal. Or you might envision the outcome you desire and then describe every tiny detail of what that would look like and how you would feel.
One important thing to remember about manifestation is that it’s a spiritual process. Adopting a mantra will not necessarily ensure that you get the outcome you desire. But it will help you gracefully receive the outcome that is meant for you.
Journaling can help bolster your mindset, empowering you to make the best decisions for your health.
Simple Journal Prompts to Ease Worries
If you’re facing a worrisome health concern, consider turning to your journal for help with managing your mindset.
Here are some simple journal prompts to help process your worries:
- What is the worst case scenario?
- What is the best case scenario?
- Describe the outcome you want.
- If ___, then ___.
- Make a list of all the ways you’ll celebrate when you receive good news.
- Come up with at least 10 things you are grateful for despite the challenges you are facing.
Even life’s biggest challenges have solutions.
In those heavy moments, journaling can help calm your worries, fears, and intense emotions. It can also lead you to the solutions you’re looking for.
When you’re worried about your health, don’t underestimate the power of journaling.
To learn more about how to move through challenging life circumstances, grab a copy of the Ease Life’s Transitions in 22 Days eBook.
Information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as providing or replacing medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Author bio: STACY FISHER, RDN, LD, CDCES is the founder of LivingUpp, a lifestyle design company that teaches women how to use a self-care planning system to create more ease and better health.
She is a registered dietitian and lifestyle coach with 20+ years of experience in the healthcare industry, where she’s worked with large companies such as Dell, Boeing, and Nike. Stacy is the author of The Lifestyle Design Planner, a flexible life organizer for high-achievers who value self-care and simplicity.