Tag Archives: relaxing

Holiday Journaling

Journaling About Your Holidays

Who has time, one might remark, to journal during the mad rush of Holiday week? Who has energy left after Hanukkah preparations to sit down and write anything at all, let alone something meaningful. The entire family just left following Kwanzaa celebrations and you are exhausted. And now you are supposed to write about it? Get real people.

John Liptak, EdD, and Ester Leutenberg have written extensively about the benefits of journaling in many of their mental health resources. In the Communications Skills Workbook they say: Communication Skills Workbook

Journaling is an extremely powerful tool for enhancing self-discovery, learning, transcending traditional problems, breaking ineffective life and career habits, and helping to heal from psychological traumas of the past. From a physical point of view, writing reduces stress and lowers muscle tension, blood pressure and heart rate levels. Psychologically, writing reduces sadness, depression and general anxiety, and leads to a greater level of life satisfaction and optimism. Behaviorally, writing leads to enhanced social skills, emotional intelligence and creativity.

No where in the quote above does it suggest that we must write perfectly…express ourselves just right. Sometimes the problem with writing in our journal isn’t so much the actual writing once we settle down with pen and paper, it is the idea that we have to be a cross between Shakespeare, Emerson, and Dickens.

What we feel like is Pooh, that bear of very little brain, said, “For I am a bear of very little brain, and long words bother me.”  (Thank you A.A. Milne.) No one cares if your longest word is five letters! Perhaps we feel, as Pooh did that, “When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.” We are embarrassed to write our thoughts, feeling that they will express our shallowness or silliness or weakness or whatever. What we forget is that our journal is for one person only…the writer. In fact, I have a note pinned to mine that asks my survivors to burn my journal without reading it. I have made my kids swear that they will do so. I don’t want to censor what I write. If I am unhappy with one of my children I want to be able to write it without fear of hurting their feelings later.

So write, fellow bloggers, write without fear. Write to clear your mind, to see your position about something more clearly, to unburden yourself, to express your love, to create a plan, to simply enjoy the flow of words from your pen (or fingers if you journal on your computer.) You never know when something of great depth or value will pour forth.

I have a friend who teaches high school history to home schooled kids. Their assignment was to write a journal entry which, contrary to our personal journaling, would be reviewed by their instructor. This student chose to write a psalm. I think you’ll enjoy it, courtesy of Brianna Ankrum and reproduced here with her permission.

Psalm of Praise

Even when I wander, looking for love somewhere else, leaving you to sit all alone on a street corner with nothing but the light post to keep You company, you still love me. Even when I mock you, saying mean things behind your back, false things that I know aren’t true, but I lie just to look good, you still love me. Even when I mess up, failing and failing and never succeeding you reach out your hand to come and save me from my self. Even when life gets hard and all I want is to lie my head down and drown in the waters that life drags me towards, You set up anchor and gently steady my boat. Even when I feel so unworthy of your love and the joy it brings me, You still deliver and every time. You never seem to fail me.

Oh why do I do these things when I know you’ll never leave? When I know your love is never failing? When I know that I can’t live on my own and I need You to be truly free? That you’ll come to me in a storm and protect me from all the hurts and damages from life? Is it because I realize how powerful you are and it scares me?

All these questions that fly through my mind, making me go dizzy over how amazing you are. It scares me, but yet calms me. How can a God so big and huge love little old me? That’s something that I know only you can answer. I know you created me for a purpose and when I fail you’ll always be there to catch me and hold me with arms open so wide. I stand in awe and amazement of You.

Not all of us are eloquent when we write. It doesn’t matter. Write for yourself, for the release journaling can give, for the perspective it can bring.

May your holidays be filled with Joy and Love.

Relaxation: Stop the Stresses!

There are a few more simple ways to reduce stress physically. Gentleness and relaxation skills help you unwind by being kind to yourself. There are many ways you can relax, but if you’re not sure, try a tension test: from head to toe, tense all the muscles you can one by one. Do some feel tighter than others? Try breathing exercises as you do this. When you tighten a muscle, take deep breaths in, and as you release it, exhale. Give yourself time to relax every day. Take 20 minutes a day and spend it any way you want – a long bath, a long walk, it doesn’t matter. Taking some time to unwind is especially helpful before sleeping. Instead of running yourself all day and crashing at the end, put yourself to bed. Developing a sleep pattern for your body will help reduce tension.

Being gentle with yourself is part of relaxing. Listen to what your body is telling you. It will let you know how you’re treating it. You may already know some of the ways it tries to tell you to slow down; a headache, a stiff neck, a sour stomach, or backaches are all signs.  If you’re looking for new ways to relax, try finding a hobby that lets you relax gently rather than intensively. Painting or yoga are examples.

  • What are some ways you’re too hard on yourself?
  • Where do you carry your stress? Can you trace the tension back to its cause?