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Journaling for exam stress blog

Challenging times are inevitable. They are part of life, without those challenges we wouldn’t fully appreciate the good times. 

Often people assume that because I have such a vast toolbox of mental health strategies that I must be happy and stress free all the time. The reality of course is that I am human. I am no more immune to the stresses of life than anyone else. I do have lots of “go to” techniques that help me move through those emotions, perhaps quicker than some people, but I am not immune. 

Let’s be honest here, the reason I learned all these techiques in the first place was to deal with my own depression and anxiety. I struggled terribly throughout my twenties and just as I thought I was getting a grasp on things perimenopause came along and reminded me that these are issues that never completely go away.

I realised at this point that I had very cleverly constructed a life for myself where I was surrounded by loving and thoughtful people, I had created a career for myself that brings me joy and I am fortunate that I have a happy marriage and wonderful children. This is a fairly dangerous bubble to live in though because it means that it is easy to get comfortable in here and then every so often something, or someone, comes along with a large pin and pops it. Whether it is an unexpected bill, like the car needing work or an appliance around the house breaking, or an unavoidable issue with someone in my life it tips me off my comfy equilibrium and I have to deal with it like anyone else. 

How does journaling help?

Well, journaling is the perfect way to work through all those thoughts that fly around your head as soon as those challenging issues rear their ugly heads. Whether it is helping you to work through the solution to a problem or processing the emotions you are feeling about a friendship or family member causing you pain, journaling is a powerful and insightful technique. 


How do you journal to navigate challenging times?

This is the big question, isn’t it? Well, it is so simple you won’t believe it. 

  • Just write.
  • Grab a pen or pencil and a notebook or some paper, start writing and keep writing. Write until you have nothing else to say, and then write some more. If you run out of things to write, just write “I don’t know what to write” until something else comes into your head, it always does. 
  • Write about how you are feeling.
  • DO NOT FILTER! Write everything that comes into your head. This is important. Just allow a stream of consciousness onto the page. If you are worried someone will read it, destroy it after you have written it. It is the writing that is important, you never need to read what you have written. 

Do I have to write by hand?

No. You can type or even dictate if you struggle to write by hand. However, there has been research to show that writing by hand connects parts of your brain that aren’t connected through other forms of communication. If you can manage to type without filtering though by all means type and of course, if you are unable to write by hand then use whatever method you usually use to record things.

I have worked through so many challenging times over the years by writing things down. As a teenager I used to pour my heart out into letters to my many penfriends, I have kept diaries and journals and even when I write articles like this I am using a similar process. I write in a very intuitive way and rarely filter what I write. It is such a powerful method and it really does help you make sense of situations and often even give solutions that you weren’t consciously aware of. If you haven’t tried journaling before, I urge you to give it a go, particularly if you are having a difficult time at the moment.

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