Banner Fort Collins Medical Center

WIN 2017

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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  Mental Health The write stuff: W hether you call the end result a diary or a journal, writing down your thoughts or typing them on a keyboard can be good for you. "Journaling can lower stress," says Linda Menesez, a psychotherapist in Santa Barbara, Calif. "When we get upsetting thoughts down on paper, instead of holding them tight in our minds and ruminating on them, they become more manageable. And when we look at what we've written, we can begin to see patterns, which gives us insight and the opportunity to make better choices in the future." Journaling can also be a safety valve for strong emotions. Instead of firing off an angry email, or picking up the phone and getting into a fight, you can write out your frustration and anger. "If you write quickly without judgment, it will release a lot of tension," Menesez explains. "It's for your eyes alone, so don't worry about correct spelling, word usage or punctuation." Beyond boosting emotional wellbeing, journaling can also impact your physical health. In a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis patients who wrote about stressful life experiences improved their health more than those who didn't record their thoughts. There are no rules to keeping a journal, so you can do whatever you want. If you're having trouble getting started, try these tips to help break through writer's block. By Sandra Gordon Keeping a journal can be healthy 15 Complete this sentence: "I feel…" "Journaling is all about feelings, so focus on how you're feeling rather than what you're thinking about," says Rabbi Pinchas Taylor, who is a life coach in Plantation, Fla. "Processing your feelings on paper makes journaling more cathartic." Don't add journaling to your to-do list. Journaling shouldn't be something you feel you have to do. You don't have to write every day or a lot. If you start journaling and then choose not to write for a while, you're not letting down yourself or anyone else. "Your version of journaling could be to just make bullet points of your struggles and your goals at the beginning of each month," Taylor says. You can write any time of the day or night too. "But writing before bed may help you sleep better," he says. Safeguard your journal. To have the freedom to write what you want, "keep your journal in a place that feels safe," says Menesez. If you write on your computer, make sure that the computer is password protected. Don't limit your journal to negative thoughts and feelings. Besides recording and processing upsetting events, journaling can be a way to commemorate the good stuff, such as weddings, births and graduations. When you're feeling down, your journal can add perspective. "It can remind us that there were happy times before, and there will be again," Menesez says.

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