While there is evidence to support how talking about trauma can be very healing and beneficial, for many this practice can be re-traumatizing and difficult. However, the practice of writing about trauma, or journaling, has been shown to have huge benefits both physically and mentally.
In fact, a study from the University of Texas explored this notion, and found that participants who wrote about their traumatic experiences, visited counseling services less often, cut down on pain relievers, etc.
Writing can be as simple as 15 minutes a day, whether writing about your traumatic experience, or just what you are doing in the moment.
There are many benefits including the following:
- Writing keeps you mindful and conscious
- Writing provides a judgment-free space
- Writing helps you identify unhealthy patterns over time
- Writing allows you to remain honest with yourself and your emotions
- Writing allows you to slow down your thoughts and reflect
- Writing allows you a vessel to get any negative thoughts or emotions onto paper and out of your mind
If you’re new to the practice of writing or journaling, here are some tips for getting started:
- Find a good space: when you sit down to write, especially for therapeutic purposes, find a space that is quiet and brings you a sense of calming. Spaces that are too cluttered or have too many distractions may just serve to induce anxiety.
- Keep it confidential: unless you decide to share any of your writing with your therapist at some point, give yourself permission to keep your words private and confidential. This notion will also help to get you in the habit of being completely honest with your writing, if you don’t think anyone will ever read it.
- Date your entries: keep a record of your entries, in case you ever need to go back and reference something. This may also help you track progress of emotional processing.
- Write naturally: don’t worry about the structure of your writing when you’re doing it for therapy reasons, just get your thoughts out there on the paper. Do what feels natural to you in the moment.
- Be honest: write for you, for nobody else. Be honest with yourself and put down exactly what you are feeling.