What’s this journaling thing all about then?
In my clinical work I’ve tended to disregard journaling as it seems to offer the potential to fuel unhelpful processes such as worrying and rumination by simply shifting them from the head to the page without any clear evidence of benefit. We’ve all had a friend who has taken onboard the seemingly common sense and helpful advice to talk about their problems, who does nothing but talk about their problems – and it really doesn’t help them or you!
The reason these problematic, internally focused processes persist is partly because they feel beyond control, and partly because occasionally some progress is made. This seems to confirm the usefulness of worrying and dwelling, suggesting that if a person worries enough they will be better prepared, or might be able to prevent bad things from happening, or maybe they will solve their problems (worrying is pretty much problem solving gone baaaad). Sometimes people think that worrying shows how much they care – trust me, there are better ways! Anyways, this is all very well if the process uses up say, ten minutes of your day. But how about ten hours a day? Over ten days, weeks, months, years? You get the picture. And while you’re doing all of this worrying and dwelling you’re not doing the things that matter with the people that matter. Your life is ticking by.
So recently I’ve been reconsidering my position on journaling. And I think this blog is going to function as my journal in some ways.
So, how about you join me and set aside 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes a day, you choose the time of day (not just before bed though), and use it to address your concerns head-on in your journal. Then you close the book. Should your worries pop up at other times in the day, which they probably will, perhaps make a note of them, but don’t engage, remind yourself that you have time put aside for this, and you will honour that later in your journal. Then bring your attention to the present and ask yourself what would be the most helpful thing to be getting on with right now. And do that. This might happen once a day, twice, ten times or a hundred. The point is that you are gently training your attention towards the present, but not suppressing or denying that there is something causing you concern. And ten minutes a day with your journal might just be enough to start a respectful conversation with your mind.
If it’s not, why not get in touch? One of us will be able to help.