New Age writer and self-help author Natalie Goldberg has said: “Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.” That relationship can help you let off steam and reduce your stress response. You can complain and rant to your heart’s content; you’re not going to publish your writings! And while that’s good for everyone, it is particularly helpful to caretakers, who often feel isolated and burned out.
That’s what researchers at Clarkson University discovered when they tracked the change in mother-child relationships that happened when moms with kids who had autism spectrum disorder or ADHD let their frustrations out via journal writing. Safely expressing negative thoughts and feelings made it easier for moms to say, “I have a stressful life” in place of “I am stressed because I am a mother.” And shifting the blame off their child made a big change in the mom-child relationship.
Other folks who can benefit: Anyone going through cancer treatment (or dealing with a chronic disease). The Cleveland Clinic says journaling is an important alternative treatment that’s “an effective way to handle some of the emotions that living with cancer triggers.”
To get started, spend 10 minutes a day just jotting down what’s in your heart and on your mind. Soon you’ll notice that your response to stressors both large and small is much calmer, and you can even discover ways to turn potentially tense moments into pleasant ones.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.