6 Tips for Expressing Yourself Through Journaling

Expressing feelings through journaling can help children and teens relieve stress, fear and anxiety. It can also be a helpful way for them to work through problems. Follow these tips to get started:

  1. At first you might find it upsetting to write about certain topics or experiences. But those feelings will usually settle down within a day or two. Often, after only a few days of writing, many people find surprising and unexpected insights that can lead to important changes in the way they feel from day-to-day.
  2. A special notebook can help you capture your experiences. Place this somewhere you will be able to find it.
  3. If you don’t like writing with a pen and paper, using a computer for keeping an elec¬tronic journal may be the way to go for you. You may also consider blogging (but remember, blogs are not private and you are sharing your information with the world.)
  4. Another option is to use an audio or video recorder for a media journal.
  5. Some people draw in their journals to express their feelings through art. If this sounds like you, grab some crayons, markers or color pencils and add drawings to your journal.
  6. You may want pictures, photographs or stickers to add to your journal entries to fully capture the experience in a way that is meaningful to you.

What do I need?

A piece of paper and a pen or pencil is all you need. However, other things you might want to use are:

  • A special notebook
  • A computer
  • An audio or video recorder.
  • Crayons or markers, stickers, pictures
  • If you are in the hospital, the Child Life department can provide you with a notebook, computer or crayons/markers and stickers.

When to journal?

  • When you can’t seem to get things off your mind.
  • When you are feeling scared, nervous, upset, sad or angry about something.
  • When you want to share with others about what is going on with you.
  • When you are excited about something that just happened or is about to happen.
  • When you want to encourage, help or inspire others.

How do I do it?

  • You can write, type, draw or even talk about your thoughts and feelings.
  • Be open and honest.
  • Consider writing about an upsetting emotional experience, especially if it is something you haven’t talked about before.
  • It is helpful to keep a balanced view, writing about both the positive and negative feelings you are having.
  • You can tell lessons or things you’ve learned through a particular experience. What would you want other kids who are going through the same thing to know? Who knows, maybe you or someone else might learn from your experience.
  • You can also talk about things you are looking forward to, things you are proud of, or goals for your future.
  • Try not to spend too much time writing about the details of the situation. Writing about your feelings is what really pays off. Really let go and explore your deepest thoughts and feelings about the experience. As you are writing, you may discover ways this experience connects with past situations, feelings or relationships.
  • Try to journal for about 15 minutes each day for 10 days, and then twice weekly for the next month. You can write about the same experience for several days or about different emotional experiences each day.

How can this help me?

Getting your feelings out, as you can through journaling, can help you better understand the problems you are dealing with and find good solutions that can help you feel better. Did you also know that stress from any part of life (including school, friends, and family) has an effect on our physical health? Research shows that the effect of stress on our health is the biggest when these issues and feelings are not directly expressed. So, finding a way to “get your feelings out” cannot only help with your feelings but also with your physical health.