Journaling Helps

  • By B. Lynn Goodwin.

    How can journaling help you through the stresses of your life?

    If you are like many people, you offer help to your spouse, boss, kids, and maybe your parents and siblings. You spend time carpooling kids to school and dental appointments, making sandwiches, answering questions, paying bills, cooking dinner, entertaining, and if you are caring for parents as well as your immediate family your work load increases exponentially. At work, you do what the boss asks. As you help others, stress can build.

    Why write about it? Journaling allows you to vent, process, explore, discover, and rejoice. It offers a safe place to explore, express yourself, dig deeper, analyze, and discover truths. It gives you the “me time” that keeps you whole. It creates a record of the story that only you can tell.

    Over the past ten years my journals have been:

    • A record
    • A place to spew
    • A place to delve and see where the pen takes me
    • A place to hone my thoughts
    • A place to sharpen my craft, and figure out what I really mean to say
    • A place to make discoveries
    • A place to find story ideas
    • A place to find resolution or the next step on my journey
    • A place to make lists and cross off what I accomplish
    • A place to look back on what was once important and gain perspective
    • A place to record my reflections

    I write my journals in longhand. I like the smooth flow of a pen on paper. I like the progress of moving from left to right, line after line, traveling down one page and on to the next. The rhythm of longhand soothes me.

    You may prefer to keep a file of journals on your computer. Do what works for you.

    In addition to the fact that university studies have shown that writing saves lives, here are a few other reasons to journal:

    • I write to share
    • I write to pull out secrets locked in place in my brain
    • I write to see what happens if I release my private truths
    • I write to move to a new level of comprehension or analysis
    • I write to tweak life and imagine happy endings
    • I write to tweak life and imagine worst-case scenarios
    • I write gratitude lists to feel better

    Though it does not always seem like it, journals have the power to pull you off the hamster wheel of obsession and into action. They are a safe place to heal. Healing does not wipe out old problems or past actions. It washes over them, helping you cope, change your attitude, and move forward. Heal your spirit by writing in a journal.

    What are your reasons for journaling? What do you journal about? Please comment below. I’d love to hear.

    Photo Credit: Curt Fleenor

    B. Lynn Goodwin

    B. Lynn Goodwin is the author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers, available on Amazon. Her stories and articles have been published in Voices of Caregivers; Hip Mama; the Oakland Tribune; the Contra Costa Times; the Danville Weekly; Staying Sane When You’re Dieting; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; Career; We Care;, Friction Literary Journal, and The Sun. A former teacher, she conducts workshops and writes reviews for Story Circle Network and InspireMeToday. She’s working on a YA novel and brainstorming a memoir. She’s the owner and editor of Writer Advice. Writer Advice recently celebrated its 16th year and runs contests for aspiring and published writers as well as sharing useful tips from experienced writers.

    For more information, please visit

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    1. B. Lynn Goodwin
      B. Lynn Goodwin says:

      Have you written in your journal today? It’s not too late. =)

      Looking out the window…
      I hear…

      Finish a sentence. Write the next sentence. You’re journaling.

      B. Lynn Goodwin
      Managing Editor of Writer Advice,
      Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers

      • B. Lynn Goodwin
        B. Lynn Goodwin says:

        Absolutely right, Terry. Any good changes happening? There was one for me on February 17. I got married… for the first time. Watch for the memoir, which is a work in progress at the moment.

    2. Renee Cassese
      Renee Cassese says:

      I journal in a spiral notebook every morning. My journal includes my wishes, dreams, rants, to-do lists, complaints and lots of sorting out my writing goals. In these pages I can record my secrets and sins without fear of judgement. I can figure out how to handle situations and make decisions. It has gotten me through physical pain and emotional heartache and it is my lifelong friend.

    3. Cheryl Barger
      Cheryl Barger says:

      This is interesting that I get this in my email today. I have been thinking about journaling. I know it works. I am feeling all bottled up inside and need to get it out. I like that part about ask a question or just start a sentence and you are journaling. I have been having dreams about being a nursing assistant and most of them are about me being at work and getting lost. Then this morning I had a horrible nightmare of a patient I was taking care of and she got worse and was needing emergency surgery and she started bleeding and there was blood everywhere. It was horrible. I don’t know what it means for sure but my guess is that I, in reality, feel lost. The blood part might be me letting that stuff out and it is coming out from all parts of my body whether I like it or not. I know I am on a good path with these dreams. I used to be a nurses assistant and never dreamed about it when I was working. I haven’t worked since Jan 6 and so I find it interesting that it is coming out now. Anyway thank you for sharing this article about journaling. Namaste.

      • B. Lynn Goodwin
        B. Lynn Goodwin says:

        Hi Cheryl,

        Thanks so much for posting this. Your dream analysis is excellent. I think you’re right on target.

        Do you write about your dreams? If so, do you discover more as you write?

        Thanks for sharing this.


    4. B. Lynn Goodwin
      B. Lynn Goodwin says:

      Hi Renee,

      This is a great response. I was particularly struck by “I can figure out how to handle situations and make decisions.” I was doing that half an hour ago. There’s something about putting pen to paper that either tames the exaggerated thoughts or puts them in perspective.

      Do you reread your journals? If so, do you see patterns in your writing?



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