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Writing Journals : Cheaper than Therapy

Updated on April 5, 2018

Try writing journals your own way!

I started the habit of collecting and writing down my thoughts a couple of years ago maybe because at that time I felt that I badly needed an escape or an outlet where I can cope up and find the surest acceptance that I could possibly found through writing.

Those are the years when I was experiencing difficulties on rearranging my life after a series of health issues that I've been dealing with ever since.

Through writing I found myself, my purpose, and my sense of worth as a person that is capable to withstand the challenges that will come may way all through the coming years.

The free-flowing of words that I had penned have had given me the comfort and healing that can never replace by a spoken word.

Image via We Heart It
Image via We Heart It

Why don't you try journaling yourself?

Some of you may know already that personal journal writing can improve your emotional health as well the recent studies by scientist at Southern Methodist University and Ohio State University College of Medicine have proven that writing contributes to physical health too.

Journal writing helps to integrate and organize our complicated lives in a variety of ways. At the same, it resolves traumas that stand in the way of important tasks, it helps in remembering significant events and turning points, it captures our creative stories, poems and ideas, helps discover and define our values and purpose, reap the wisdom of our dreams and discover what is sacred in our lives.

Also a recent study conducted by researchers like James W. Pennebaker, M.D. professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, and Joshua M. Smyth, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at North Dakota State University, are proving what journal writers have always known, journaling is good not only for the soul, but for the body as well. The first studies, in the late l980's, examined healthy people and journaling. Researchers have found that people who write about their deepest thoughts and feelings surrounding upsetting events have stronger immunity and visit their doctors half as often as those who write only about trivial events. And more recently, exciting and innovative research appeared in the April l4th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

As well a research, conducted by Joshua M. Smyth at the State University of New York at Stoneybrook, showed that writing about a stressful experience reduces physical symptoms in patients with chronic illnesses. The team monitored 112 patients with arthritis or asthma. The subjects were asked to write in a journal for 20 minutes three days in a row about either an emotionally stressful incident or their plans for the day. Of the group who expressed their anxiety on paper, 50% showed a large improvement in their disease after four months. Only 25% of patients who wrote on neutral topics showed any relief of symptoms.

Many people who are journaling on a regular basis do admit that it makes them feel better. Journal writing has the lowest risk factor imaginable, mentally as well as financially, providing you with the gentlest and safest of therapies. No expertise required, no minimum time required, and you don't lose the benefits if you miss a time period...

Did you?

Did you consider making a Journal?

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Visual Journaling - Another Way of Expressing Yourself!

Aside from writing journal, visual journaling is a creative way to express and record life's experiences, feelings, emotional reactions or our inner world -visually and verbally. Essentially, visual journaling can become a potential key to the artmaking process.

Tips for you on How to Use a Journal for Your Health

by Ray Bruce, Ph. D.

Tests conducted by a team of clinical psychologists and immunologists demonstrated that subjects who wrote thoughtfully and emotionally about traumatic experiences achieved the following results:

  • Increased T-cell production;
  • A drop in physician visits;
  • Fewer absentee days;
  • Generally improved physical health.

You don't need special tools or abilities. You can use any notebook or paper for your writing. Although there are many blank books available in stationary and book stores, notebook paper or a class notebook will work just fine. Since journaling is for your own use, spelling, handwriting, and grammar are not major concerns. The purpose of writing in the journal is for you to get your feelings and experiences down on paper. You're not writing for a grade or for review by someone else.

Writing in a journal uses simple techniques. Here are three that will get you started.

Reflective Writing:

Be an observer of your life. Write about events that are happening to you or around you, in a way that helps put them into perspective. This is especially effective when writing about life changes, job or career, relationships or illness.

Begin writing with the phrase, "It was a time when...," then let yourself describe the event in detail, use as many of your senses as possible. What were the sounds, smells, sights, feelings, etc. that were present?

Write about the event as though you were observing yourself. Use "she" and "he" rather than "I" in your sentences. Describe the activities as an outside observer. Frequently this helps give perspective to an otherwise very personal experience.

Cathartic Writing:

Write about your feelings, all of them. Put your pain, fear, anger, frustrations, and grief down on paper. Say what you want to say, need to say, on the page. The journal won't judge or criticize you. You can use it as a safe place to let out everything you feel. Sometimes you may choose to throw away your writing, or burn it as a rite of letting go of the event or feeling disrupting your life. Let your intuition lead you in your writing, and in what to do with the words once you've written them. Try it when you're feeling joy and gratitude, too.

Begin with the phrase, "Right now I feel...," then let yourself write whatever comes out. If you run out of feelings, re-read what you've just written and then write the next thing that comes to mind.

Unsent Letters:

You can write a letter in your journal to a person, place, event, or belief. The journal gives you a powerful way to express what you experience and feel about any situation. Your journal will give you a place to express your true feelings when you may not feel comfortable doing it more directly. This technique is especially helpful in dealing with death or divorce. These are situations where we may not be able to talk with the person directly. It it also a powerful way to process the emotions that come up on the job or in a relationship. How about frustrations with your kids?

Begin with a salutation, just as you would if you were writing a letter, "Dear....". Then let your pen and paper lead you. You may be surprised at the power and clarity you experience from your writing. Your journal may be just a starting place for a whole new level of communication with others.

While you are writing, or after you've written, you may feel deep emotions. They're normal and healthy. In fact, the emotional release is just what contributes to the healthy impact of journaling. If you want to do more with what you've written, share it with a friend, counselor, clergy or physician. Your writing is for your health, not for public display. Make sure that members of your household know that you're writing in your journal and that you want it to be private. You will find that others are very respectful of your writing, especially when you ask them to treat it that way.

Add journaling to your tool kit of ways to keep yourself healthy. Its benefits will go far beyond the pages you fill.

If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time to write...

— Stephen King

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

Reader's Reviews:

When I opened this book the first time, I fancied myself a good writer. I had just landed a job as a copywriter, and I felt pretty good about myself. Then my boss walked into my office and dropped a copy of Zinsser's classic on my desk. "This is your first assignment," he said. So I read.

What a revelation! According to Zinsser, I was guilty of a multitude of sins: clutter, fuzzy thinking, poor usage, passive verbs, you name it. So I repented, and now I'm a disciple.

This book is as engaging as it is instructive. It's so easy to read and understand, you can't help but improve. It spells out everything that's wrong most people's writing, then provides simple solutions. You'll cut pounds of fat from your writing. Your sentences will sparkle and your paragraphs will dance. Best of all, your readers will read, not groan.

-Bob Dickson (Valencia, CA USA)

The Elements of Style: The Original Edition

Reader's Review:

While skimming through Stephen King's book ON WRITING, he highly recommended THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE. Taking his advice I searched for a copy and found one in a free bin--of all places! I looked at it and decided that it was so much better than any other textbook that I had seen that I decided to WRITE IT. Three pages a day for a month or so. It's a very short book, only about 80 pages or so. You learn everything from words that are often spelled wrong, to punctuation, to style, etc. Very blunt and to the point. No exercises in here, problems 1 - 10 all. Nope, you just read this book and enjoy it. Why, there's actually a little humor in it at times, which is pretty good for a textbook. Now I've heard some people say that this book is bad because it is saying to follow all these rules and don't stray from them. I think they got it all wrong. This book is essentially saying this: you can't blaze new trails in the English language without having a solid foundation in the basics first! This goes for ANYTHING. You don't suddenly set off an a 200 mile trek, you slowly work up to it, starting from the basics. After you have mastered the basics, then you can break free. One thing that this book continually points out is that it is OFTEN A MATTER OF EAR. Meaning that if you are experienced enough, you will know whether to stick to the traditional or whether to be liberal when phrasing something, for example. By far this is the most talked-about textbook that I've seen and the most valuable.


Music and Writings

Music for productivity incorporates proven psychoacoustic techniques to revitalize and renew. Using a great variety of tempos to stimulate the nervous system, the process of sonic isometrics is widely employed. Simple/complex melodic arrangements alternate while changing rhythmic pulses subtly produce a tension/release cycle. These ear-robics are designed for a cerebral work-out. This music is lively in pace and feels great!

On this CD:

Music Composed by:Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Philipp Telemann, Richard Lawrence, Giuseppe Tartini, and Antonio Vivaldi with Arcangelos Chamber Ensemble.

Disc: 1

1. Lawrence: Sunshine, 3rd Mvt.
2. Lawrence: California, 1st Mvt.
3. Lawrence: Energique, 3rd Mvt.
4. Lawrence: Energique, 2nd Mvt.
5. Telemann: Sonata
6. Bach: Air
7. Lawrence: Energique, 1st Mvt.
8. Lawrence: California, 2nd Mvt.
9. Lawrence: California, 3rd Mvt.
10. Tartini: Andante
11. Lawrence: Energique, 4th Mvt.
12. Lawrence: Sunshine, 1st Mvt.
13. Lawrence: Sunshine, 2nd Mvt.
14. Lawrence: Sunshine, 3rd Mvt.
15. Bach: Aria
16. Lawrence: Energique, 5th Mvt.
17. Vivaldi: Concerto
18. Bach: Badinerie

Tartini: Andante

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Reader's Reviews:

This is not a how-to book. This is not a New Age manual for freeing your creativity in ethereal ways. This is Anne Lamott, for heaven's sake...and that means it's funny! As in, laugh-till-you-can't-read-the-words-through-the-tears-in-your-eyes funny. (Some call this therapy, and I'm inclined to agree.)

Though aimed at writers, this book is full of sage advice and razor-edged honesty for the average joe. If you're a writer--and I claim to be one--it's more than a few anecdotes and good advice; it's a lifeline in the thrashing seas of rough-draftdom, a foothold on the sands of jealousy and vain ambition. Anne makes it clear that writing must be pursued for something other than mere publication. (Though, to be honest, I know she's just trying to let the majority of us down easy.) Writing is about letting go, growing, facing truths, and holding on.

I'm hooked on Lamott. She slaps me in the face with her startling revelations, nudges me in the ribs with her unpredictable humor, and prods my frozen little writer's hands back into action with warm compassion. This book won't solve the mechanical aspects of my writing, or lead me on the path of structural excellence, but it will spark my creativity, free my characters to be true to themselves, and, ultimately, shake me from my doldrums back into the writing mode.

In a society addicted to mindless facts and information, "Bird by Bird" reminds us--writers or otherwise--that it's all about heart. Heart and mind and soul dancing together, even if they step all over each other's feet.

-Eric Wilson "novelist" (Nashville, TN United States)


Writing Journals :: Cheaper than Therapy by Naiza Oclares is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at

Your words and thoughts are highly appreciated!

© 2007 NAIZA LM

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      One year I kept a gratitude journal--the assignment was to find 5 things each day that we were thankful for. Some days were hard to come up with 5 things, but it was worth it, and I should do it again.

    • beaworkathomemom profile image


      5 years ago

      Great job Naiza. Keep on writing journals.

    • SciTechEditorDave profile image

      David Gardner 

      7 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

      Nice! I'm a journaling addict. Love writing things down. Congrats on a great lens!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Journaling is truly such a great release! I found that I used to do a lot more before I started Squidooing -- now Squidoo to me is like writing in a journal -- in chapters!

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 

      9 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      Journaling is becoming such a universal past time.

    • mariaamoroso profile image


      9 years ago from Sweden

      Yes Naiza - I have been writing down my experiances and events for many years. I even painted drawings of what took place. But when my Husband died I could not write. It was too painful. I could not draw or even start to try. I know it helps to get you move ahead. Share if you want to!

    • kateloving profile image

      Kate Loving Shenk 

      9 years ago from Lancaster PA

      Julia Cameron's Morning Pages are well worth doing.

      Instructions for doing them can be found in "The Artist's Way," and "The Right To Write."

      All her books are excellent for writers!!

      I loved your lens!

      Thank you!!

    • CrypticFragment1 profile image

      Tammy Winand 

      10 years ago from McleodGanj HP India

      great lens naiza! I have many journals but I only write in them sometimes...also have a visual journal; I wish I could unpack all my art supplies but it's too messy for my roommates!


      keep up the great work

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      hello. great lens. thank you for visiting my lens. i agree, writing a journal is great fun and lets you express your feelings. keep it up. ^^

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      hello. great lens. thank you for visiting my lens. i agree, writing a journal is great fun and lets you express your feelings. keep it up. ^^

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 

      10 years ago from Arizona

      This is a wonderful lens and I'm going to keep checking back to see what else you come up with :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great lens! :) I linked to it from my newest lens about journaling.

    • InvoluntaryGypsy profile image


      11 years ago

      Writing always helps me through bad times. Thanks for this great lens!


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