Ever since I can remember I have kept a journal. People use journals to record their dreams, prayers, activities, and even the weather. In the end, our journals are thrown away, burned, or lost. Our thoughts, dreams, and prayers disappear with our last breath.
So why keep a journal that will end up tossed out?
In addition to leaving encouragement through the words you penned to paper long ago, journaling has health benefits.
A few years ago, I read about a study led by Qian Lu, assistant professor and director of the Culture and Health Research Center at the University of Houston. The study used journaling as a means of dealing with cancer. It likened patients who are experiencing cancer to war veterans who experience post-traumatic stress. Similarly, like war veterans, cancer patients deal with loss, depression, anxiety about treatment, grief, fear of the future, and more. Sound familiar?
According to Melissa Carroll, who wrote about Lu for the University of Houston, “writing about emotionally difficult events for just 20 to 30 minutes at a time over three or four days increased the immune function. The release offered by writing had a direct impact on the body’s capacity to withstand stress and fight off infection and disease.”
Journaling as a form of medicinal therapy?
Sometimes journaling can take on different forms, as in the previously mentioned study. Another way journaling has benefited me is by tracking my gratitude.
You may not be able to control what is going on around you, but you can control how you respond to it. Responding with a feeling of anxiousness causes worry and nervousness. Responding with gratitude can change everything.
Creating a sense of gratitude tends to focus your mind on the positive. It keeps you forward-looking and grows your hope.
An attitude of gratitude
Several years ago, a bestselling book, “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, taught a good journaling technique. In her book, Voskamp committed each day to recording at least three things she was grateful for. This began to open her eyes to many more reasons to be thankful. After reading the book, I took up the challenge.
The outcome? Once on a roll of being grateful, it’s amazing how many things I found that I had taken for granted every day. That’s the key: to start noticing the goodness around you.
A Bible verse speaks about a similar subject: “… [W]hatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
If you’re stuck under clouds of gray and anxious about things happening in your life, ask yourself, “What did I see today that was lovely?” Write about such things. What did I admire in someone today? Write about such things. You get the idea.
Journaling can help you get down on paper what is difficult to say aloud. It can be a pathway to release anxiety and create gratefulness. It’s just plain good for the body.
If you’d like to read how a fellow advocate took a horrific experience and pulled gratitude out of it, check out fellow columnist Jean Mellano’s recent column.
Do you practice journaling? How has it helped? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.
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