By Liz Scala

Lately I’ve been extremely busy; as any nurse has been at one time… or is ALL of the time!  I notice that my mind is racing, thoughts are coming and going quickly, and I feel scattered.  Currently I balance my part-time role as a clinical nurse research fellow, my role as a nurse in a wellness center, and my own health coaching practice.  As my coaching business is relatively new; there is a ton of work to do.  Writing articles, meeting people for strategic alliance meetings, conference calls, and my own reading and educating myself to keep me up with the times are just some of the things I am juggling.  I am sure, as a busy professional in whatever line of work you do; you also must balance it all. 

You might care for patients as a nurse; watching monitors, hanging fluids, administering medications, speaking with family, and coordinating discharge plans… sometimes all at the same time!  Or you might be a school administrator; coordinating meetings, creating lesson plans, following up with staffing issues.  No matter what role you find yourself in; as a professional… you are busy!

This “busyness” comes with a price; a cost to our health the busier we get.  While there are physical signs of stress, sometimes mental strains are more bothersome.  This is what’s been going on with me.  My mind cannot stop.  There’s constant chatter; did I get everything done?  Did I miss something?  Am I doing it all?  Where’s my “to-do” list?  What do I work on next?  It goes and goes and goes; even, unfortunately, when we lie down to rest. 

So what can we do to let some of this mind overload go?  While there are many tools we can use to lighten the burden of our thoughts; there is one specific strategy I want to share today: journaling.

Journaling is a great form of “mind dump,” so to speak.  It is a wonderful way to get thoughts out of the head and onto the page.  What are some specific forms of journaling that you can try?

  1. Morning Pages: I recently heard a talk given by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way.  She shared with us the power of this journaling strategy she calls, Morning Pages.  It is very simple and easy to do.  All she suggests is that you get up and write first thing in the morning, before doing anything, three pages of long-hand stream-of-consciousness writing.  That is it.  It does not have to be artistic, creative, or even well-written.  The point is just to get your thoughts out onto paper so that you are free of clouded thinking throughout your day.
  2. Gratitude Journaling: This is something I read in an article for a coaching course I was in, by Martin Seligman.  He suggests that each night, before going to bed, to write down all of the things you are grateful for.  What went well in your day?  Who can you thank for what happened to you?  What blessings and gifts did you receive?  Why are you grateful?  Writing this all down will ultimately help you in the long run as you are more aware of your blessings and less troubled by worrisome thoughts.
  3. Unsent letters: This is a strategy Kathleen Adams shares in her book, Journal to the Self.  Think about all of the things you would like to say to someone, but never could, would, or have.  This tool is wonderful as you do not have to censor your writing because the point of it is that no one will ever see it!  You are writing a letter to someone and getting all of those thoughts and emotions about them out of your head and onto the paper. 

So whatever tool you decide upon, these are only three examples of many, try to spend 10 minutes out of your day writing out your thoughts.  If you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and busy then journaling is something that can help you get your thoughts out of your head and onto the paper.  No one has to see it.  Let it be a place for you to work through things, get ideas, tap into creativity, and learn more about yourself.  Journaling is a great stress reducer.  It is cost effective and doesn’t take a lot of time!  Let me know if you’d like other journal topic ideas as I love this strategy and use it myself!

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About the Author: Liz Scala writes about Health and Wellness monthly for AMSDaily. You can visit her  blog at Living Sublime Wellness to read more on these topics. She is also one of the authors of the book, “The Best Inspirational Storie I Ever Read: Guide to a Purposeful Life”.