Journal Writing
Kristin Donovan : Journaling Heals All Wounds

Better Living Through Journaling

Journaling Heals All Wounds

Five universal wounds that benefit from therapeutic journaling.

By Kristin Donovan | Updated 7/29/15

The incredible healing power of journaling is invaluable during times of crisis. Whether your trauma is physical or emotional, journal writing provides a restorative form of self-care, guiding you through pain and into recovery. When you write through grief, illness and change, you emerge stronger and more nourished on the other side.

Here are five universal wounds that benefit from therapeutic journaling, speeding you along the path to healing.

Grief and Loss

Loss of a loved one is devastating, and many people are unsure how to begin the healing process. Journal writing offers a small bit of solace by providing a safe space to unload your grief. When writing about your loss, you benefit from release without worrying about the effect your words and emotions have others. For this reason, journaling is a comforting safety net for people who prefer to grieve in private.

Your journal can also furnish a place to revel in your memories of the dearly departed. Try using a collection of stories, photos, and ephemera to create a collage honoring their life.

You may find letter writing in your journal highly therapeutic. Unsent letters grant you an opportunity to say the words you didn't get to say, or simply to continue sharing your daily life with your loved one.

Illness and Injury

When recovering from a debilitating illness, physical injury, or chronic disease, journal writing can lift your spirits by highlighting your progress. We often lose sight of our forward momentum when we're submerged in physical trauma. But documenting the daily improvements in your journal tracks your progress, gives you perspective, and lets you celebrate your small victories.

It's no secret that injury and chronic illness are also mentally and emotionally taxing. During rough patches, your journal also provides a safe spot to vent your fear, frustration, and pain.

When I suffered a nasty broken leg, my journal listened to my daily complaints about feeling powerless. As a fiercely independent soul, I hated needing help to get through my day. The pages provided a space to unload all my pent-up rage and frustration.

Journaling also captured tiny improvements that would otherwise have gone unnoticed, like increasing my time on the balance board by fifteen seconds.

During darker moments, I savored pre-injury journal entries detailing a particularly fruitful run. And when it was all over, rereading the account of my strong recovery filled me with a new sense of awe and self-respect.

Wounded Self-worth

Criticism and rejection are painful to endure, regardless of their source. Whether it's a romantic rejection, a scathing performance review at work, or some "tough love" from a well-meaning friend, criticism hurts. Our first reaction is often to crawl into a corner and lick our wounds.

Withdrawing is natural and sometimes necessary — just bring your journal with you. Journaling through the discomfort of criticism or rejection allows you to talk yourself up and remember all the fabulous traits you have to offer, giving you a much-needed boost of confidence.

Your journal also acts as non-judging confidante that listens as you vent your hurt feelings. By writing about what happened, you gain clarity and perspective on the situation.

Sometimes just understanding the other person's point of view makes the conflict easier to bear, even when you still disagree with them.

Motion Sickness

Moving is one of the most stressful events we can face. Even positive change exacts an emotional toll. Whether you're relocating to a foreign city, moving to a new residence, or just traveling extensively, journaling can keep you grounded and maintain a sense of place amid unfamiliar surroundings.

When you're feeling homesick or uprooted, the pages are there to listen. Your journal is a shelter and it'll always be with you, regardless of where you hang your hat.

Relationship Endings… and Beginnings

We suffer a real sense of loss when a romantic relationship ends. Break-ups and divorces are emotionally ravaging. But journaling can guide your healing as you let go of the relationship and usher in a new era of self-focus.

Writing in your journal will remind you that you exist as a whole person, even when you're alone, and it helps you fill those newly-empty hours by yourself.

Best of all, journaling reconnects you with your essential self, which sometimes gets lost in the shuffle during an all-consuming romantic relationship. You may even find you come out stronger on the other side.

Whether the trauma you face is a broken bone or a broken heart, therapeutic journaling is invaluable on your path to healing. Use it well. •

Next: Journaling through Change

© 2010 by Kristin Donovan. All rights reserved.

Kristin DonovanKristin Donovan has been journaling for more than two decades. She facilitates creativity groups for women and leads journal writing workshops in the Pacific Northwest and online. More »
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