I recently heard on public radio that people are dealing with more stress than ever in their lives. I haven’t researched the topic personally, but I do know writing can help reduce stress.
Many of us internalize our stress, which can lead to more stress. If we don’t internalize, but choose to verbalize instead, we risk creating stress in our personal and professional relationships. Friends can only hear so much before they get tired of the tirade. Exercise works until you’re physically exhausted. But writing? Writing works, and you get the stress reduction without the risk of hurting your relationships or your body.
Here are some tips:
- Write in a dedicated notebook (not on the computer) that you can control access to. A dedicated notebook assures all your frustrations are recorded in one place instead of scattered about. A dedicated notebook can also be hidden in a special place selected by you. It can also be destroyed without a technical person accessing content you thought you deleted.
- Determine how you’ll use your notebook. If you’re writing about things going on at work, keep your notebook at home so no one at work will have access to it. If you’re writing about personal relationships, find a safe place to hide your notebook.
- Date all entries and include the day of the week. Doing so will reveal any stress trends such as feeling anxiety on Sunday night when anticipating the start of the work week. Or you may find stress on the weekends because you’re pulled in so many directions with family, chores, lack of personal time, etc.
- Jot down stress thoughts on pieces of paper you can keep in your pocket or purse until you can transfer the thoughts to your notebook. Better to get the stress thoughts out of your head and onto paper than to keep thinking about them. By the time you get to writing in your notebook, you may decide whatever was stressing you is over and not worth writing down. Remember that you can destroy anything you write down whenever you decide to destroy it.
- Try to do most of your stress writing privately. You’re doing this for you, and no one else needs to know what you’re writing about.
- Consider establishing a regular time for writing about your frustrations or stress. It may help you cope when things are hard because you know your release writing time is coming.
- Give yourself a break. One reason you’re writing about stress is to release it. It doesn’t make any sense to put more stress on yourself by worrying about grammar or spelling or punctuation. No one is going to see your writing but you anyway, so be kind to you.
If you’re feeling stressed in your daily life, consider trying the tips listed above and give yourself the gift of writing–especially writing to reduce stress. Happy writing!