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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

Journaling as Self-Care

Aug 31, 2014 10:02PM ● By Robin Shreeves

For those that spend a large part of their lives caring for others, taking time for self-care may seem impossible. However, ignoring their own needs catches up and depletes them mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Caregivers often experience overwhelming moments that bring them anger, pain and guilt. Journaling is one way that caregivers can give themselves permission and time to dig deeply, uncover their own needs and clarify what they can do for themselves. More than just recording the day’s events, journaling provides them the opportunity to open up completely about their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual experiences and to explore thoughts that can’t be shared with anyone.

Here are some tips to get started:

1. Start with any blank book. Whether it is a beautiful lined journal or a 50-cent spiral notebook does not matter, as long as it is dedicated only to journaling.

2. Find a comfortable, quality pen and buy a bunch. The pen doesn’t need to be expensive, but should roll smoothly so the thoughts can keep flowing on the page smoothly.

3. The computer can be a blank book, too. Keeping a journal in a password-protected document or private blog can work just as well as a physical book.

4. Keep it private. To uncover what’s deep means being able to write freely about anything and everything. Keeping the journal private helps release the writer from the temptation to self-edit.

5. Set journaling time. Since it is difficult for caregivers to take time to do anything for themselves, setting a time—as little as 10 minutes per day—and guarding it dearly is one key to using this sanity-saving tool.

6. Start with a stream of consciousness. Put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and scrawl away without fixing spelling or judging, correcting or editing anything. If at first all that comes out is “I don’t know what to write” repeatedly for 10 minutes, it’s okay. Eventually the rest will come.

7. Look into art journaling. Sometimes words cannot convey a person’s thoughts and feelings, but pictures can. This form of journaling combines writing with drawing or cutting and pasting pictures from magazines and other forms of art. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is a great resource for art journaling.

Robin Shreeves is a South Jersey native, freelance writer and the founder of SouthJerseyLocavore.com. Connect at [email protected].

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