What’s in a word….

There’s something about the act of writing that eases the soul and frees the mind.  Perhaps this is why many people turn to the written word in times of stress, sadness or worry.  Writing about something as stressful and difficult as cancer or serious illness can be soothing, illuminating and supportive.

For many people, keeping a journal is an easy way to express their feelings and thoughts about what is happening.  Research shows that expressing our innermost thoughts and feelings can reduce stress, improve how we are physically, and increase our quality of life.  Putting our thoughts down in black and white can help us identify exactly what our problems and concerns are – which is the first step in dealing with them.

Journaling is a very personal thing, so there’s no wrong way to do it. Here are a few ideas to get you started if you’d like to give it a try:

  • Have a think about the best way for you to get the words out – pen and paper, computer or phone app.
  • Think about when is the best time for you to write.  Maybe you find that writing in the morning helps set you up for the day.  Or maybe writing before bed helps you wind down and process all that has happened before you go to sleep.  Or maybe writing every day seems too strict and you’d prefer to write just when the mood takes you.
  • Write what’s on your mind, not just a list of the day’s events. Thoughts about your illness and treatment, your hopes and fears, your goals, or amusing stories of what’s happened – whatever comes to you.  The only truly important thing is that you’re writing about what’s important to you.
  • You’re not back at school – grammar and spelling don’t matter!
  • Be gentle with yourself.  Looking at your inner world can be cathartic; it can also provoke some strong emotions.
  • To get the most out of your writing, try to be as candid and honest as possible. If you’re unsure where to begin, try one of these opening lines to get you started:  “Today’s appointment made me feel……”, “I am worried about…..”, “I was surprised/happy/disappointed/excited when ….”

Journaling can act as a way to cope with the highs and lows.  By putting your thoughts and feelings into words, you will not only be better able to cope with your experiences, but also be able to look back at your journey and see just how far you’ve come. Why not give it a try!

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