According to psychologists, keeping a journal will see us through 2020, and even maintain a connection with those taken from us.
Journaling can offer those dealing with grief the opportunity to freely express emotions pertaining to loss and is often recommended as a cathartic form of relief.
Research suggests that disclosing deep emotions through writing can enhance your immune system as well as mood and general well-being. Conversely, the stress of bottling up these strong feelings can heighten blood pressure and heart rate and lead to an increase in muscle tension.
In one study, those who wrote about difficult life events experienced fewer stress-related visits to the doctor, improved mood, and a feeling of greater psychological well-being. Another study indicates that in particular writing about dead friends or loved ones is a way by which we can maintain a bond with them, helping us to cope with their loss.
Another study indicates that in particular writing about dead friends or loved ones is a way by which we can maintain a bond with them, helping us to cope with their loss.
Truly troubling situations such as a suicide or violent death are best explored with the help of an experienced therapist. In such cases, Harvard Health Publishing advises seeking professional support to help deal with the grief prior to attempting to journal your way through it. If you do decide to go ahead and keep a journal to help process feelings of grief, Harvard Health Publishing has some tips in mind:
Writing about grief and loss can trigger strong emotions. It is entirely possible you cry or feel deeply upset.
However, if the pain isn’t overbearing, push on—many people find journal writing valuable and meaningful and report feeling better afterwards, even if the writing spurred on tears.
It might be wise to opt for “directed journaling”, journaling that focuses on one or both of the following purposes: sense-making and benefit finding.
Psychologists Wendy G. Lichtenthal and Robert A. Neimeyer found that directed journaling is more effective in helping those who are struggling to make meaning from loss. It was observed that such journaling reduced symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress.
Truly let go. Be sure to write down how you feel and why you think you feel that way. You’re writing for yourself, not others—don’t feel obliged to adhere to grammatical rules and conventional sentence structures.
Try fit in 15-to-30 minutes of writing a day for as many consecutive days as possible (at least three). Research shows that the effects of journaling are stronger when the writing extends over a matter of days. If this isn’t possible, try to fit in a session once or more per week for a month as this will somewhat resemble the effects of extended journaling.