From the time I was about 9 or 10 years old, my mother encouraged me to keep a journal (well, she called it a diary). Although I always enjoyed writing, I never understood why she bugged me so much to write my thoughts. I figured maybe she wanted to read it when I wasn’t around. Or maybe, she recognized my desire and ability to write before I did. She surely never realized that the practice would help me to cope with caring for her as we, together, battled Alzheimer’s disease.
As a caregiver, you have a lot going on in your heart and head and journaling is a great way to relieve stress.
Journaling also provides you with a reminder of what’s going on from day to day. You don’t necessarily want it to become a calendar, but my to do list often starts as a brain dump in my journal and then makes it to my calendar or at least a sheet of paper as a list for the day.
Your journal won’t judge you. Your feelings are so complicated. Your journal isn’t going to look at you funny when you secretely wonder how much longer you can keep up caregiving. Your journal isn’t going to tell you you are a bad son or daughter when you start to consider a long term care facility and your journal isn’t going to say your lazy when you express that you are tired of cleaning up the bathroom or changing adult diapers or being accused of stealing money.
Finally, caregivers are often isolated and have few opportunities to share thier thoughts and feelings. Journaling is a great way to express your feelings. It may even help you to problem solve. As you write, some solutions may become apparent.
I have listed just a few benefits of keeping a journal. Click on this link to see 100 reasons you should keep a journal.
Towards the end of each year, I spend time in the bookstore selecting a journal for the upcoming year. Now, it’s really not that big of a deal. I just happen to enjoy writing my thoughts and ideas in a nicely covered and bound book, with lined pages. Usually, it runs me in the neighborood of $15-$20. However, any paper will do. The key is to select something that works for YOU.
Lines or no lines? Some people like lines, some don’t. I used to loathe lines, they stiffeled my creativity when I was in that mode. However, when I got to seriously putting down of my thoughts, I found that I desperately needed lines.
You may also consider using the computer. I do that, even now, when I have a lot going on in my head becasue I can type much faster than I can write.
Does Size Matter? To me it does. I like a journal that is smaller than 8 x 11, but larger than 5 x 7. Not sure why, it just works for me. But I know people who use legal pads and I know peopole who use very small notebooks, it’s a matter of personal preference.
Binding. This is important. Spiral type binding works well becasue pages are easily accessible, but the pages tear from the spiral part after some use. For me, it’s just important that the book lays flat when opened. Other than that, it doesn’t really matter.
In the final analysis, it matters not if you pay for a nice “official” journal or use recycled paper from the office. What matters, is that you write, write, write.
Start now! What do you think? Do you keep a journal? Do you think it would be beneficial to you? Leave a comment, let us know.