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  • Writer's pictureCassandra Martin-Himmons

Stressed? 4 Ways Journaling Can Help

Striped journal for stress relief
Write It Down

When you think about stress management, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it journaling? Probably not, but it should be.

Being constantly stressed out from juggling demands and obligations is a regular thing nowadays. While having some stress in your life is a good thing because it keeps you motivated to achieve and helps you grow. But sometimes all of these obligations and pressure can get to be too much. Which could lead to anxiety or other problems. Which means that you need to figure out how to manage your stress before your stress manages you.

Journaling is gaining popularity and it’s an effective way of managing your day-to-day stress. First this post will talk about four ways that journaling helps with stress relief; then I’ll talk about 2 types of journals that are especially helpful for stress management and how to find time to incorporate journaling into your day.

Journaling & Stress Relief

Journaling Lets You Tech Disconnect

There’s something about putting a pen to paper that’s grounding in a way a screen and keyboard can’t compete with. We’re so connected to our devices that writing in a journal is refreshing and allows to you better connect to yourself by connecting to the page.

Journaling in an actual book helps you to get away from mindlessly scrolling or jumping from one thing to another. After all, you can only have one tab open at a time in your journal! The physical act of writing or sketching uses your entire being - it’s grounding.

Journaling Helps Your Mindset

By its very nature, journaling is reflective. It allows you to keep track of all the things happening in your life, good or bad. If you write about the bad things that happen, in time when reviewing your journal, you may see that things were not as bad as they seemed which can help you gain a new perspective or help you see your strength in surviving it all. If you focus on the good things, it helps keep negativity at bay and helps you cultivate a positive attitude. When you’re feeling down, you can look through your journal and remember the good things in your life.

Journaling = Stress Relief

Writing down your frustrations, hopes and fears gives you a way of releasing those emotions. Instead of moaning and groaning about how other people are treating you, you can write it out in your journal. Journaling gives you a safe place to let out all your anger, hurt and frustration. And having poured your feelings onto the page, you feel better.

Your perspective might even change about the situation. At the very least, whatever issues you’re writing about won’t be constantly swirling around in your head anymore. Feel like brooding? Journaling is your antidote.

Here are some questions to help you explore those feelings of frustration:

  • When I’m in pain — physical or emotional — the kindest thing I can do for myself is…

  • What can you learn from your biggest mistakes?

  • When I think about letting xyz go, what fears come up?

Besides answering these questions, if you find that you have difficulty identifying the exact emotion that you’re experiencing try using this modified version of a feelings wheel which helps you dig deeper into surface feelings.

Journaling can help you find the source of your stress

As I said earlier, journaling lets you take your feelings out of your head and get them onto paper. And sometimes through the act of writing in your journal, you unleash feelings that you have not previously acknowledged related to something else.

Maybe you’re experiencing stress because something your partner does reminds you of a past relationship? It might turn out that you’re behaving in a self-destructive way because of a past failure that you fear repeating.

Journaling can help you find the real source for any negative feelings you’re experiencing and provide a way forward.

Here are some prompts to help you explore where your stress is coming from:

  • Name what is enough for you.

  • In reviewing your journal: What events were happening during those times I felt stressed?

  • Make a list of everything you'd like to say "no" to.

Journals For Stress Management

In a previous post I talked about 10 types of journals that you can use for self-care and stress relief. But here, I’m going to focus on two specific types of journals that are effective in relieving stress. They are gratitude journals and positivity journals.

Gratitude Journals

I truly believe in the power of gratitude. By being grateful for the things that you already have, you not only come to have more respect for the people, objects, and experiences in your life; you open yourself up to receive more.

An attitude of gratitude helps you to stress less. It opens your eyes to the fact that things are not usually as bad as they seem at first glance. It helps put you in a positive frame of mind. In a typical gratitude journal, you list the things that you’re grateful for and maybe even why you’re grateful for them.

As a matter of fact, I love gratitude journaling so much, I created my own gratitude journal.Check it out here.

Positivity Journals

If your speaking about being in a positive state of mind, positivity journals have got you covered! In a positivity journal, you list the good things that are happening in your life. You can also list and talk about the things that make you smile and why they make you happy.

Make Time To Journal

picture of pocket watch to remind people to make time to journal
Take Time To Journal

Now as I talk about journaling, some of you may be thinking that this sounds great and all, but how am I supposed to have time to journal each day?

I’ve got some thoughts about that! It’s all about making time.

One of the easiest ways to make room for journaling in your life is to create a morning routine and make journaling a part of it. Try getting up 15 – 20 minutes earlier each day and using that extra time to write in your journal.

If you’re writing in a gratitude journal or similar type, this can help you set a positive intention for the day and help you get into a happy, optimistic or good frame of mind ready to face the rest of your day with the ability to deal with whatever stressors come your way.

Alternatively, if having a morning routine isn’t your cup of tea, consider making journaling part of your evening routine. That would look like turning off any devices at least an hour before bedtime and using anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes to review the events of the day, explore feelings or express that gratitude.

You could also use any random 10 – 15 blocks of time that appear during your day for journaling, especially if you use a journal app. Other ways to make it easier to journal include:

  • Dictating your thoughts

  • Using a one line a day type of journal – takes less than 5 minutes to write an entry.

  • Using pictures or drawings instead of words

  • Schedule your journaling like you schedule your me time

So, there you have it, four ways a journal can help with stress relief.

Let’s talk, what type of journal do you use and how does it help you manage your stress? Let me know in the comments section.


Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a trainer, wellness coach and consultant who believes in empowering her clients and providing the tools that they need to make positive changes in their lives to manage their stress and increase their self-care. In her spare time, she enjoys papercrafting, volunteering and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or Linked/In

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