Search and Surrender, The Help and Hindrance of Journaling through Stress

Sometimes–even for me, an avid journaler who is essentially an advocate for journaling — the journaling practice gets a little too unwieldy. A little too much wallowing, obsessive thought patterning, and unresolvable (without additional information) analysis and guesswork. I ask myself now and then, “Is journaling really a help to my stress levels and stress management, or is it a hindrance?” I’ve explored this question before in “Steampunk Journaling,” with a different take.

Changing up habits

Recently, I decided I could benefit from revising my habits, or at least being somewhat attentive to them. In doing so, I decided I would try two ways of implementing hopefully an improved balance of activities:

  • Change #1–diversify my routine and attempt improved consistency on a stretching practice .
  • Change #2–Shift from analytical thinking to color therapy (at least allow myself an interval during the day to relax my over-thinking). I realized I needed to surrender this type of analysis to other activities.

For a week and a half, I did not journal at all. (This is unusual for me.) It’s been my intention to revive art projects for a while, but since this was an exercise in de-stressing, I didn’t want to get involved in anything too ambitious; that is, I didn’t want another “project” with pressure attached to it. I’ve had an adult coloring book on my shelf for some time and decided this was the time to put it to use — along with my watercolor colored pencils that had also not been put to use for quite some time. So, what happened? I allowed myself to release the impulse of controlling my reality with words (as is my practiced approach) and just got lost in the sensory experience of color.

It was calming. And it was low-stress fun.

Flat lay close up on woman hands coloring an adult coloring book web banner.

Resuming Routine

Then I resumed journaling — searching my thoughts for insights — and it was, once more, a stress aid rather than a stressor.

It was my intention to relieve my stress without any really major unrealistic life changes (such as quitting my job or moving to a new state). What I did was unlock my rigid thinking just enough to realize how my thought patterning was contributing to my stress and what was in my control to alter…until the next stress challenge when I realized I was lapsing back into the same thought pattern that was problematic before–but I have adjusted my journaling accordingly.

Another method for shifting journaling energies that are becoming not-so-mentally healthy is to switch to guided journaling.

Finding Balance

Sometimes journaling alone is not enough (or too much). This trinity of activities (writing, yoga, and color therapy) is the key to keeping my stress at bay just now.

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