The Perfect Reason to Journal Even if journaling is not your thing

Whenever Amanda walks in my office the first thing she does is pull out her constant companion, her journal, and bring me up to date on what transpired since our last session. I admired my client’s dedication to journaling. The process of chronicling her thoughts and insights on daily happenings works well for her.











People journal for a variety of reasons ranging from improving focus and mental clarity to experiencing a sense of accomplishment in recording achievements.

I rarely recommend journaling to my clients although I probably should. It can be a viable stress reliever, used to catch insightful thoughts and creative ideas, but frankly, journaling is not my thing. Why don’t I journal? It’s a process I don’t enjoy. Suffice it to say, different strokes. What works for Amanda doesn’t necessarily work for me.

But keep reading, as I do have one important singular exception to my personal journaling outlook. You can journal whenever you like, or not, but when a stressful situation results in a multitude of negative thoughts bouncing around in your brain, I recommend you sit in a quiet place and take pen to paper or tap away at your keyboard.










According to studies at UCLA when participants wrote down their negative emotions, versus verbalizing, activity in the alarm center of the brain (called the amygdala) decreased. In layman’s terms, brain scans proved committing your feelings in writing stopped the madness. Once you quiet those gremlins in your head, tranquility sets in and you can calmly begin to sort the problem that had you bouncing off the walls.

Stop and think about a time when a stressful experience occurred that you did not handle very well.















No doubt you stayed inside your head and held negative thoughts captive. Without a pathway to clear those pessimistic feelings, you ended up reacting to emotion and making poor decisions.  Perhaps you blurted out things you regret or acted impulsively.

Of course it’s too late to rewind what’s said and done, but never too late to employ this particular journaling strategy.  The next time you feel overwhelmed by a boatload of stress take a time out to steal away and capture all the pent up negativity on paper.

No judging and no editing anything out. Remember, this is for your eyes only. Write until you feel totally empty of all those bleak thoughts.

When you finish, take a deep cleansing breath and feel a calmness settle over you.  At that point, I believe you will find you are able to rationally and successfully deal with the issue. Give it a try!

9 thoughts to “The Perfect Reason to Journal Even if journaling is not your thing

  1. Great article Sunny!
    I’ve journaled on/off for decades. During stressful situations or when I have a “Life/Work Challenge” and have found it extremely helpful.
    The technique I use has been really beneficial and comes from “The Artist Way” book by Julia Cameron.
    Here’s how it works:
    1. Keep your journal by your bed and do it first thing when you wake up in the am, before “YOUR DAY” impacts your thoughts. (I get my coffee pot ready the night before and do pop in the kitchen and grab a “cuppa” to sip while I write)
    2. Don’t use your computer!!! There is something “Healing” about using pen/paper. There is a study about that somewhere, but I can’t think of it at the moment.
    3. Write THREE, 3, yes 3 pages! There is something magical about the THREE.
    This is “Stream of Conscious” writing. Doesn’t have to make sense. Some days it’s easier than others.
    Some days I start by just writing: I don’t know what to write, over and over, until something pops in my mind.
    It’s very therapeutic!

  2. Tracie,

    Thanks so much for all the valuable information on journaling. I’m going to especially remember #2, and forget the keyboard, pick up my favorite pen and write my heart out.

    Your input is valued and very much appreciated!


  3. HI Sunny,
    I started journaling when my late husband died. I found that the blank sheet was always ready to accept the emotional roller coaster I was on-without judgment. Good thoughts, bad thoughts. Words i couldn’t speak out loud. I encouraged those in the grief group I led years later to do the same.
    The paper “listened” when friends and family no longer cared to.

    1. Hi Bryna,

      Wow…those words, “paper listened when friends and family no longer cared to,” is so powerful.

      Thank you for guiding the readers to journal when on that emotional roller coaster. Great advice and much appreciated. Thanks for sharing your life experience.


  4. Wow, thank you again Sunny for such a great article. This sounds like something I can truly benefit from for a host of reasons. Another thought on Tracie’s #2 – when the journaling is in your own hand writing, you own the emotions behind the words on a far deeper level – take it more seriously – feel a greater responsibility to work toward the necessary changes, the healing, and owning your part in what’s not working…
    Thank you for being that nudge, when it’s not so comfortable, which guides your clients and readers toward a better life.

    1. Thanks Caren. Happy to be a nudge, but in this case I think you, Tracie and Bryna have convinced me to start journal more often. They say the teacher teaches what she need to learn.


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