Often times it can be hard for people to communicate to others what they are feeling after a trauma. It may even be difficult for you to understand the complicated emotions of grief you’re experiencing. Because of this, feelings can get trapped inside, which makes it difficult to relieve that stress. Many trauma symptoms are due to the fact that this energy is trapped in our bodies, causing stress which can greatly effect our bodies and minds. Expressing these emotions on paper makes them workable.
While it may be hard to speak your feelings, many of us are best able to express ourselves through writing, which is why journaling is such a big help. It makes it easier for you to communicate highly personal thoughts in a private manner and also allows you to work out the complicated feelings as you go. Since it is private, and not for an audience, it allows you to write exactly what you are feeling, without a filter, which can provide a healthy release of emotions.
Journaling can also allow you to identify triggers or things that upset you, or things that made you feel better, to look back on if you are having a hard day. By understanding these sources you can better understand ways to cope with them. Journaling allows us to engage both sides of our brain by remembering events and writing them down. It is clarifying.
Not only this, but reading back through journals can help you reflect on where you were and where you have come. It is a method of documenting both the progress and the setbacks and reviewing them when you are ready.
The important thing to know about journaling is that there is no correct way to do it. The journal is for you, not for anyone else. You don’t have to write certain things, or worry about improper grammar. It is simply a place to get out everything you are feeling, good or bad. You don’t have to be a “good writer” to journal.
A good place to start is by writing 10 - 15 minutes a day. Write anything you want. It is an emotional experience, so it’s best to just let it all out in a stream-of-consciousness manner. If the blank page is intimidating, you may want to start by writing a list, or what you did that day. You don’t have to focus on the intense grief emotions. It is just about getting whatever you are feeling out on a page.
Keep it simple to start, and be patient with yourself. You don’t necessarily have to write everyday, and the entries don’t have to be long. Even writing one or two sentences can be helpful.
Another thing that can be helpful is letter-writing. You can write letters to someone you’ve lost, someone who hurt you, etc. It can be extremely helpful to write these things on paper as if you are sending it to them.
Dreams are another thing that can be a powerful source of healing. If you happen to remember a dream, write it down in your journal! Many times we release feelings and emotions subconsciously in our dreams, and they can be learned from if you remember them.
Finally, keeping a gratitude or success journal is very healing. Each day, or whenever you feel like it, write down something you are thankful for, something that makes you happy or things you appreciate. You can also write down successes, either big or small, that occur. Both of these things can be helpful to read back on and remember what makes you happy and proud of yourself.