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Motherhood is beautiful, yet it can also be incredibly stressful. Unfortunately, many moms feel they have to pretend they have everything under control and hide their stress from their families. Why?
According to a 2022 survey of moms, one in three feel stressed or overwhelmed by their responsibilities as a mom at least five days a week. Almost three-quarters of mothers surveyed said they feel they must pretend they’ve got it all under control and feel as if they’re not stressed.
So, if mothers are stressed but don’t feel like they can ask for help, how can they manage their stress so it doesn’t impact their day-to-day lives? One easy habit to adopt that can help with stress management is journaling. Journaling is a low-cost, simple way to tackle stress management that anyone can pick up.
The Benefits of Journaling
There are many positive effects of journaling. Journaling and other forms of expressive writing are great ways to tackle difficult emotions and stressful situations. It allows the writer time and space to clarify their thoughts and emotions and work through negative feelings in a safe space. There are many mental and physical health benefits to journaling.
Mental Health Benefits
It’s widely known that journaling is a tried and true way to tackle the effects of anxiety and depression. Writing about stressful events or times of mental distress is a way to process them, allowing you to explore and release the emotions involved.
Additional mental health benefits of journaling include:
- Improving your mood,
- Evoking mindfulness and keeping you firmly rooted in the present,
- Helping the brain regulate emotions,
- Increasing confidence
- Providing a way to identify negative thoughts and triggers.
The bottom line when it comes to mental health and journaling is that the act of journaling can help you accept and not judge your mental experiences, which leads to fewer negative emotions in response to stressful situations.
Physical Health Benefits
The most obvious connection between journaling and physical health is that journaling results in lower stress levels, and lower stress leads to positive health outcomes. However, newer studies have also shown some interesting direct connections between journaling and your physical health.
Journaling has been scientifically linked to:
- Lower blood pressure,
- Improved immune system response,
- Improved liver and lung function,
- Decreased symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, and
- Improved cognitive functioning.
Whatever your motivation for starting a journal, you are doing a good thing for your mind and body whenever you pick up that pen.
Different Types of Journaling
Journaling novices may remember their middle and high school years and think that journaling is similar to the daily diaries they kept of their day-to-day life experiences. While that is one kind of journaling, it may not be the most effective kind of journaling for managing your stress levels and documenting your motherhood journey.
There are many different ways to explore your deepest thoughts and complicated feelings. Some may speak to you more than others. Take a look at just some of the different kinds of journals you can keep.
Being actively grateful is not as easy as it sounds. Gratitude is a skill that needs to be nurtured and fostered to become a habit. Gratitude journaling is a way of taking some time every day to acknowledge the big and little things in life you are grateful for. A bonus of keeping a daily gratitude journal is that it trains your brain to look for the good, setting you up to see the positive things even when faced with difficult situations.
A daily gratitude journal is unique in the world of journals in that you ONLY record the good things in your life. You ONLY write down the things for which you are grateful. This makes it a powerful tool to have on hand when life throws tough times your way.
Gratitude Journal Prompts
To get you started, here are some gratitude journal prompts you can expand on in your gratitude journal.
- Who are you grateful for today? Why?
- What five possessions are you grateful for today? Why?
- What five body parts are you grateful for today? Why?
- What skills or abilities are you grateful to have?
- How can you share your gratitude today?
- Write a letter to someone who positively impacted your life.
- What part of your daily routine are you most grateful for? Why?
Collage Journaling/Vison Board Journaling
Some people are more drawn to expressing themselves through images rather than words. That doesn’t automatically mean that journaling isn’t for them. A collage journal, or art journal, is a journal that combines images you find with your words and experiences to create something special and new. Think of it as an extended vision board or scrapbook.
You can use any images that speak to you, whether they’re from magazines, photographs, printouts, or cut-out quotes from books. You can also add your original drawings or doodles to the images you include in your collage journal.
Collage Journaling Ideas
If you’re having trouble breaking through the blank page, here are a few one-word prompts to inspire your collage journal entries:
One of the hardest parts of motherhood is knowing that you are a role model for your children and, as such, can’t say all the things that you really want to say in the course of your day. One great tool you can use on an as-needed basis is an unsent letter journal, where you can write down all the things you wish you could say to people over the course of your day.
Unsent letters are a beneficial journaling practice for getting control of your emotions over a situation where you feel powerless. By crafting letters you’ll never send, you can process your feelings in a safe space without having to relive the situation. You don’t have to explain yourself well or in detail and can gain a sense of clarity, closure, confidence, and calm.
Unsent Letter Prompts
If you’re wondering who you would write an unsent letter to, here are some suggestions:
- Write a letter to your future self about your hopes for her.
- Write a letter to a deceased friend or loved one you miss.
- Write a letter to someone you carry anger towards.
- Write a letter to someone asking for forgiveness for something.
Emotional Release Journal
An emotional release journal is the most similar to a daily diary journal. In one, you document all your emotional responses to the events of your day to process those emotions. It goes beyond just writing about the events and asks you to tackle the feelings and emotions accompanying those events.
This journaling practice is a great way to prioritize and understand your emotional health. It allows you to do a deep dive into your daily emotions and start to identify the actions that trigger those emotions.
Another form of an emotional release journal is an anxiety journal. If you struggle with anxiety and depressive symptoms, keeping a daily journal of those feelings and the situations that trigger them can go a long way toward understanding and controlling that anxiety.
Emotional Release Journal Prompts
Here are some prompts to get you started with your emotional release journal:
- What emotion am I feeling right now? What prompted this emotion?
- Where am I feeling my emotions in my body?
- What emotions do I feel most often?
- What emotions do I avoid feeling? Why?
- How did I handle feelings of anxiety today?
- What were some moments of stress and anxiety today? Peace and calm?
- How can I better cope with negative emotions in the future?
How to Start Journaling
The only thing you really need to start journaling is a pen and a piece of paper. That’s it. However, to truly set yourself up for success with your journaling experience, you should take some time to create a ritual around your journaling.
Set Up A Specific Time to Journal
Whether first thing in the morning or right before you go to bed, set aside 15-30 minutes daily to write in your journal. Make this your journaling time, and ensure your family knows you aren’t disturbed when writing.
Find Your Own Space
You must be in your own space when you sit down to journal. It can be as simple as a chair you’re not sharing with anyone else or as big as your own room. Whatever it is, make sure it’s comfortable and has space where you can write.
Don’t take time to think about what you’re writing or second guess what you want to put on the page. These journaling exercises are for you, not for anyone else. It’s important that you not censor yourself during this time so that you can really dig in and process your thoughts, feelings, and experiences of motherhood.
Use Prompts to Guide Your Writing
A few are included in this post, but there are also lots of resources with guided writing exercises or journal prompts on whatever topic you want to write about. You can also check out my 5-minute mindset journal for some quick and easy prompts to get you started.
Buy a Journal That Inspires You And Some Fancy Pens
Go get that beautiful notebook that caught your eye the last time you were out. Splurge a bit on some new, pretty pens. You can even pick up some encouraging stickers to put on random pages to keep you motivated as you write. Whatever it is that will make you excited to pick up your notebook every day; it’s worth it to purchase it at the start of your journaling practice.
Journal With a Friend
Just like exercise, journaling is a habit that can be done with a friend. You don’t have to share what you’re writing, but it is helpful to enlist a close friend to start journaling alongside of you. They can be your accountability buddy and help keep you on track or get you back in the habit if you fall out.
Ready, set, write!
Now that you are armed with prompts, a plan, and a mindset guided by the benefits of journaling, it’s time to get started. Remember, though, that journaling is great for your mental and physical health but to keep stress at bay, it should be part of an overall wellness strategy.
Your mental and physical health is important to prioritize to be the best mom you can be for you and your family.
As a full-time working mom of three, I know what it’s like to feel like life is out of balance and out of control.
While I don’t have it all figured out, I am committed to sharing helpful tips and tricks with other mommas who are ready to break free from negativity, ditch mom guilt, & finally, live life on their own terms.