There is no corporate sponsor to promote journaling to overcome difficulties, so here we are:
Many different wellness strategies exist for people to get through difficulties. Some strategies have a corporate sponsor, like pharmaceuticals, and thus many people hear about them. Journaling to overcome difficulties is one tool that is very underutilized. However, many of us as poets are quite familiar with keeping track of our writings. This research article talks about the health benefits of forming a story. Another study showed that people who spend time in intensive care often have traumatic memories of their hospital experience, and when nurses were able to build a scrapbook about their experiences, this reduced future problems from 13% of patients to only 5%.
Kiara Lanier, one of our featured poets from last year, also conducted a workshop at University of Missouri at Columbia to introduce journals to poets and artists. Many of her poems from that show mentioned journaling to overcome adversity.
During one of the Poetry for Personal rolling bicycle based health fair display booths last year, we talked with Shawn on First Friday about his use of journaling to overcome difficulties. He was working at the time with a book called The Artists Way, which gives lots of powerful tips on how to move through creative blockages. He found that just freeing up a little bit of his brain each day was why it was so effective to use journaling to overcome difficulties.
Shawn talking about using running and journaling to overcome difficulties:
Recently, Nancy from Great Bend, KS, sent us a story about her use of journaling:
What helps me get through the tuff times is my journaling in a notebook each day if I can. I can write out my hurt as well as my joys. I have journaled for several years and it started out as how to help me raise my vegetables in a garden. Then I started to put down things that I thought were important in my life and writing also about the different cats I have had. I also in my journaling write my thoughts down on certain subjects or something that I wanted to express, so that my case manager or therapist could see my moods and thoughts for the past week.
Journaling for me is like a window into my soul or spirit. I do write a lot about how life situations affect me and my relationships, especially with my family. I also journal, cause it helps me to see things happening in my life, like when my shots are running low in my body and that helps me to try and stay calm and distance myself from certain people who get me upset. Journaling has been a real help to me in my life and I hope to continue to do it for a long time.
Art show featuring Journaling to Overcome Difficulties:
Poetry for Personal Power coordinator Corinna West also found that journaling was a very effeective tool, maybe linked with this research article that says good stories produce good health. As she progressed further in recovery, she found that her journals became less and less about illness and more about work ideas, poetry, bicycling events, or friendships. Recently her journal covers were featured in the Charlotte Street Foundation’s Books: Message and Medium project, and some of the covers are shown below.