Journaling to Increase Your Resilience
Having a bird's-eye view when we're going through challenges doesn't always come naturally. It takes real effort to have a holistic perspective.
Bouncing back from setbacks is possible when we consider the bigger picture. I was able to return to my authentic self after being diagnosed with a psychiatric illness by creating a narrative of my mental health crisis being another chapter in my book of life.
Organizational psychologist Adam Grant affirms that resilience is "the speed and strength of your response to adversity." In other words, we're resilient depending on how fast and powerfully we bounce back from hardships.
The beauty of making journaling a consistent practice is that you're able to look back on how far you've come in dealing with life's challenges. It reminds you that you've survived everything you've faced until now and you can find ways to keep going.
Things to Consider About Journaling
Merriam-Webster dictionary explains that the word journal originated from the Anglo-French word jurnal, which means daily. When we're journaling we're writing about our daily personal experiences, the highs and the lows, with part of the purpose being to keep a record.
We may get sidetracked by concerns about being grammatically correct or making our writing aesthetically pleasing when we're journaling. Also, journaling isn't always enjoyable because it can trigger unpleasant emotional and physical responses related to trauma.
In the long-term, journaling can help us pull through whatever hard times we might be going through. It is a coping skill that allows us to process experiences in a space without censorship. It's a convenient form of expression and we can vent without fear of external judgment, which is important because not all of us have access to a therapist or an unrelenting support system. The benefits you might notice with a journaling practice are things like: reduced stress, better working memory and improved immune system responses.
A Tool for Resilience
One of the biggest reasons why we fail to move forward in life is because we're not able to put the pieces of a life event harmoniously together. Psychologist James Pennebaker, PhD, has done extensive research on the wonders of expressive writing. He proclaims that we can be sense makers by writing things down instead of repressing things.
"Those who have a why to live can bear with almost any how."
- Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
There are several things we can do to build resilience according to the American Psychological Association. Keeping things in perspective when catastrophizing, acknowledging and accepting our emotions in hard times, practicing mindfulness and self-discovery can all be channeled when we journal to strengthen our ability to bounce back.
Apply It to Your Life
Think about the thing that has been troubling you the most lately. It could be dissatisfaction with your job, problems with a relationship or a habit that's really getting in the way. To build your resilience to tackle this challenge through journaling or expressive writing you'll need:
A place without distractions where you can write for 20 minutes
No worries about grammar, spelling or who's going to read your writing
Some time after a trauma to avoid triggering unpleasant emotional and physical responses
You have what it takes to navigate your biggest challenge. The wisdom for unlocking your best self is within you and it's accessible by writing things down.