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The Value of Writing- An Aid to Coping With Stress

Posted Jan 21 2010 12:47pm

In these fast paced times actually sitting to write a card, a letter or a journal can seem to be an old-fashioned notion, too far out of our comprehension to ever consider doing. The truth is, writing things down in a journal can be a very therapeutic means of processing thoughts and ideas, whilst writing a letter can be beneficial to both the sender and the recipient.

A journal is an excellent mechanism for writing things down which may not be able to be expressed out loud. It can be used to work through thoughts and feelings that are in a state of confusion - hurt, annoyed, jealous - and which need to be resolved so that life can be continued in a more positive way. It is a means of externalising things and putting them into order or perspective. And then the book can be closed and all those thoughts and feelings are in a safe place and kept at a safe distance.

A letter can send recognition, appreciation, being remembered. There is often a feel good factor attached to receiving a letter. So often elderly people and people who live alone only receive bills and junk mail through the door. To some extent, email has brought back keeping in touch through mail, but to many people a letter or a card through the door has more thought to it and can be kept and re read.

In a problem situation, a letter can be written over a period of time, giving the writer time to re read and re write it at will, until such time as it is deemed appropriate to send. The recipient can then read and re read it at will, taking time to understand, privately, the content of the letter and then, after a period of reflection, come to a decision as to what action to take. This is a useful way of avoiding the confrontation that may well arise with a face to face meeting or a telephone call.

Sometimes letters can be used to good effect in a therapeutic way, where a person has died or a crime has been committed and another person is left with a feeling of unfinished business.The letter can be written over a period of time to ensure that everything that needs to be said has been said. Then some people choose to perform a service or a ritual to bring 'closure' to the situation. Some people may burn or bury the letter, or throw it out to sea. Whatever is decided to be apt.

Lists are a useful way of clearing the mind of anxious thoughts and worries or of simply clarifying what needs to be done. They can be a good way of refocusing the mind, whilst at the same time still feeling confident that nothing important will be forgotten.
Worry lists are good for people who constantly feel anxious about forgetting things. There is a discipline in freeing the mind and concentrating on what needs to be done at a point in time, and then learning to cross it off the list once it has been done. New jobs can be added when required.

A Happy Book is a mini journal used to capture entries every day that would hardly be remembered. Treasured little vignettes can be banked with the days' date and then revisited in the future, especially when feeling a little down or low. So a lovely sight in nature or a kindness or an achievement can be written down and kept forever in a special book, there to be dipped into whenever wanted or needed.

Similarly, a Success Book can be a daily note of each days' achievements, no matter how small. Then, if there are low times, again there is a log of past successes and accomplishments as a reminder of how capable we can be. We have done those things.

Susan
Lifestyle Therapy.net


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