Journal Writing: A Prescription for Good Health
When your body is sick or injured, you probably seek medical attention and follow a regimen of prescriptions, rest, and even physical therapy. But, did you know that keeping a journal might aid in your recovery? There is also some evidence that healthy people who keep journals report a greater well-being and fewer medical problems. "I credit my journal for turning my life around, for getting me up and out into the world again, for giving me the strength to carry on," says Keith.A car crash in 1991 left Keith, a construction worker at the time, with 3 crushed vertebrae in his back and neck. He had kept a journal for more than 20 years, but found his daily writing to be even more therapeutic after his accident."Unable to move without pain, I lost myself in my writing," says Bellinger. "Without it I would have drowned in self-pity. The previous entries took me back to the job sites, let me walk in the sunlight, lift heavy walls, and guide trusses to their marks atop beams high in the air. New entries explored the reasons I was now disabled, helped put into perspective religion versus spirituality, and strengthened my resolve to turn to a simpler, less stressful lifestyle."
Helping to ConnectVickie, a nurse psychotherapist at the University of Maryland, encourages most of her patients to keep journals."I tailor journals to the interests of my clients—particularly with children—and do not limit it to the documentation and expression of previous events," she says. "For those clients with an interest in poetry, I encourage them to write poems of any sort. For those who like music, I encourage them to write lyrics, which we can then talk about and set to music if they wish. Many of my clients bring their writing to their sessions, and it provides a focus for the sessions."For small children who have not learned to write yet, she encourages them to keep a journal of pictures. She says this allows them to express and record their feelings and thoughts in a similar way to a written journal."Journal writing is not for everyone," Vickie continues, "but for many it can be cathartic, insightful, and even fun. It can be shared or kept private, and still be beneficial as a tool for therapy. And long after therapy is needed, it can still be utilized to maintain health."