Family caregivers have full days of doing things for others. They all too rarely take time for themselves.
They seldom stop to look in the mirror to see the effects of their caregiving on their own well-being.
One strategy family caregivers can use to take a deep breath and improve their own coping ability is therapeutic journaling.
What, you have never heard of that and wonder what it is?
Therapeutic Journaling – What It Is
Therapeutic journaling is a self-help tool to deal with emotions and life events. It is a written dialogue with yourself, for your eyes only. It will help you express your feelings to help you process them, release your daily tension and be able to set your emotions aside and move on to continue caregiving.
No, not a diary because therapeutic journal writing focuses on your perceptions, personal internal experiences, and reactions to a situation, occurrence or emotion.
Therapeutic journaling does require the family caregiver to take on a risk, when you begin writing your innermost thoughts and feelings onto paper that someone unknowingly could read. Here’s the flashback to high school when your teenage brother or sister laughed at your diary entries. But this shouldn’t be the case now since you are in control of your personal journal. The benefits you will gain will overshadow any fear of being exposed.
Therapeutic Journaling – Where Do You Start?
- Get a journal. Find one that expresses your own sense of style so that it can be a true representation of you. Perhaps you want a leather bound journal or one that has a pink paisley cover. I might like to use one that resembles a scrapbook with a picture of my family on the front to remind me when I open it what I hold dear including myself.
- Write in it every day. Don’t add line items as if you were filling in your calendar but express your thoughts and perceptions freely.
- Remember there are no rules. No one will grade it, so if your sentences don’t agree or if they end with prepositions or run on for miles – that is OK.
- Ask your journal a question in a way you expect it to answer you…you will find over time that when you delve deeply enough into your feelings, you can answer your own questions more easily.
- Write down any thoughts that you found troubling or conflicts you experienced taking care of senior loved ones.
- Capture the good moments too. Be sure to write down events and days you want to remember. Add how it felt to be a caregiver, the joys and sorrows and proud moments.
- Listen to yourself through your journal.
Using therapeutic journaling can help you relax, improve your physical well-being and benefit your mental health.
By gaining a healthier outlook on your life as a caregiver, it will allow you to be a better caregiver.