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Journaling as a Coping Skill for Stress

By April 1, 2020January 29th, 2021No Comments

Let’s talk about journaling today.

Many of the counselors and story editors on make a suggestion to keep a regular journal as a way to process through difficult challenges in life. Actually, things don’t even need to be difficult – or challenging.  Journaling just helps us process LIFE in general.

People have been keeping journals – all types of journals – for thousands of years. Sometimes they just write about what they eat for meals each day, or their daily chores, or other mundane aspects of life. Sometimes they write about a person they have fallen hopelessly in love with (a person who may, or may not, love them back). Other times they write about people who make them angry (angrier than they thought possible) and what they would like to do or say to that person.

Every so often a journal contains information about things happening in that person’s life that seem of little consequence at the time, but then much later (like 100s of years later) another reader realizes the person has written about a major event in history, and we learn a whole lot from that person’s journal!

Journals can be kept in leather-bound notebooks, or sketchbooks. Journal entries can be scribbled on napkins or prison walls, or typed into cellphones or computers. They can be painted or colored, or made into animated videos.

When we look back over time at our journals we can see something interesting. The experience we had at the time, which we expressed from a first-person perspective in written form, can now be seen in hindsight. We can, in fact, look back over many entries and see how our experience changed – maybe over days or weeks – even months. We can observe how our feelings and thoughts changed. We can think about what we may have learned over the time period we were writing. It can teach us a lot, and remind us of a lot that happened. We are less likely to forget the things we learned during those times.

What seemed like a small thing then, perhaps will stand out to us later as a very important point – something we wish we would have noticed more, or paid more attention to in the moment. And that can be super valuable!

On the flip side, something that seemed hugely important then could now seem like no big deal at all. Maybe the perspective has changed. Maybe we can see everything with a better perspective altogether.

You will find that our TeenCentral counselors will often recommend to our story writers that they keep a journal for all of these reasons and more. It’s a therapeutic and helpful way to process thoughts and feelings about LIFE. Even if you have never written a story into TeenCentral you may consider starting a journal as one way to manage stressful challenges in life and the emotions that come along with them.

If you have a blank page in front of you and you are not sure where to start, here are 10 great JOURNAL PROMPTS to consider.

  1. If you had 3 wishes right now what would they be and why?
  2. What was the high point of today and the low point of today? Explain what made each of them so good or not so good.
  3. If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island for 100 days and you could only bring 5 items from your home what would they be and why?
  4. What do you want to be when you grow up and why?
  5. Find the nearest window and look outside. Describe everything you see and how it makes you feel.
  6. Who was the last person you spoke to? Describe the conversation and how it went?
  7. Write about a skill you’d like to learn and explain why you’d like to learn it. How would your life be better if you were able to achieve that skill?
  8. Write down the lyrics to a song you really like. Highlight your favorite lines of the song and then explain what you like about them so much.
  9. Describe a member of your family (past or present). What do you like and/or not like about this person and why?
  10. Describe one of your friends in detail. What do you like and/or not like about this friend and why?

This is just to get you started. I hope you have many other ideas for writing after this, but maybe – just maybe – you’ll see more writing challenges on TeenCentral in the near future.

And for those of you who prefer art, keep your eyes open because we will be talking about art as a strategy in the very near future as well!

Stay well!