Use your Journal for Stress Relief this Month

April is Stress Awareness Month, an event that has been sponsored by nonprofit organization The Health Resource Network (HRN) since 1992. Every year, HRN strives to educate people about the causes and dangers of stress, as well as successful coping strategies.

At one point in my career my car became my journaling sanctuary. I found it was very helpful, even necessary, to escape during the lunch hour and write in private. I often parked next to the nearby lake or park where I could also enjoy the outdoors while I wrote. This gave me 45 minutes to decompress (i.e. vent in writing) or to just reorganize my to do list for the afternoon and made my day much less stressful. The following exercises were posted on one of my favorite blogs Createwritenow.com.

Five-Minute Stress Relief Exercises

1. Take a short break with your journal when you start to feel overwhelmed, whether it’s on your lunch break at work, in your car after work, or while enjoying your sacred writing space. It doesn’t take much time, and it’s a helpful way for you to record and decipher the stressors in your life.

2. Answer the following questions in your personal journal:

• What is causing you stress? Is it a specific incident, an ongoing situation or something else? (Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint the cause of your stress, while other times it’s more challenging.)
• How do you feel, both emotionally and physically?
• How did you react? Are you happy with that reaction? If you were to do it again, how would you do it differently?
• How do you usually deal with stress in this type of situation? Do you have a healthy stress relief strategy?
• What can you do right now to feel better about this situation?

3. Complete this journaling exercise each time you are coping with stress, then take a moment to write a 2 or 3 sentence reflection about what you noticed as you wrote. Over time, look back at past entries and see if you can identify any patterns. What are consistent stressors? Is stress a continuous part of your work or home life, or is it linked to specific circumstances? What coping strategies help the most to maintain a healthy stress level?

Want to learn more about how to use a journal to process changes and stressors in your life? Visit our Courses and Events page for a current schedule.

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