Reducing stress by journaling

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CLAY COUNTY – Think back to when you were a child. For some of us it was not that long ago, for others it may have been a while. Regardless of how far back you have to remember, it may be easier for some of you because of one thing; you kept a journal as a child. This trend has taken a bit of a back seat recently and I must admit that I did not keep a dedicated journal as a child. However, I’m just now starting to learn about the huge benefit it can be to our children.

The University of Rochester Medical Center outlines several benefits for everyone who keeps a journal, including; managing anxiety, reducing stress and coping with depression. Thinking about the stressors and situations we face every day, it makes sense. When we have a problem and we're stressed, keeping a journal helps us identify what’s causing that stress or anxiety. Once we’ve identified our stressors, we can work on a plan to resolve the problems and reduce stress.

Now, we do need to keep in mind that journaling isn’t the end all be all of stress reducers and problem solving. Journaling is one aspect of mental health and a healthy lifestyle. To get the most benefits from journaling we should also; relax and meditate each day; eat a healthy, balanced diet; exercise regularly; and get plenty of sleep. Journaling can help you to track these each day.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there isn’t one sure fire way to journal. However, here are a few tips to get started. Try to write every day by setting aside time. This could be when you get home from work, before you go to bed, or even at lunch. Make it easy by keeping pen and paper handy allowing you to write down a thought. If it works best for you to keep a journal on your computer or smartphone, do it! When you do journal, write what feels right. Remember there isn’t one set way to keep a journal, it’s your own place to keep your thoughts on the day and organize them.

Lastly, use your journal as you see fit. Your journal doesn’t have to be shared with anyone. If you want to share your journal with friends and family, you can certainly do so. With that in mind, it is important that we respect the privacy of others, if you come across someone’s journal, don’t read it without their permission.

Keeping a journal will help you or your children create order in life when it may feel like chaos. You’ll also get a chance to learn more about yourself when you journal by revealing your most private fears, thoughts and feelings. Remember, the journal is for yourself, so look at writing in it as a time to relax, de-stress, and wind down.

In 4-H programs, we ask our 4-H members to keep a record book that includes a journal. While learning in their 4-H clubs, member journal about what they did or learned, helping them to keep their thoughts together and reduce their stress come showtime. If you have a child that you’d like to get involved in 4-H or are an adult who would like to share your knowledge with 4-H members, please feel free to give us a call.

For more information about 4-H you can contact Matthew Olson at (904) 284-6355 or m.olson@ufl.edu.

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