Whether you’re undergoing treatments for cancer, have received a new, scary diagnosis or you’re coping with the effects of disease or disability, journaling can be key to understanding the change in identity illness brings and the development of personal strategy’s to manage the changes in our lives.
Benefits: Healing Through Writing
For many, a serious illness leads to transformation in our lives, whether it comes in the form of acceptance, resolutions, reversing unhealthy habits, redesigning a living space, reconnecting with old friends or artistic or spiritual practices. Often changing the status quo of our life, with both small and epic alterations, is a catalyst for overcoming or accepting our circumstances with strength and grace.
Format: The Gratitude Journal
A gratitude journal is a time honored way to gain perspective whether you’re ill or just happy to be alive. A wonderful statistic states that many nurses working in trauma, burn or oncology centers keep gratitude journals. It helps balance witnessing suffering on a daily basis.
Keeping a gratitude journal is ritually oriented and enjoys a sacred aspect. Typically this is a morning entry journal in which jotting down simple lines or phrases about what you feel grateful for on a given day helps balance your thoughts and emotions when under stress. Find a journal that’s aesthetically beautiful or ornate, something worthy of your sense of hope and well being.
Format: Pills and Food
If we’re lucky we have a loved one to keep track of our medications or food intake when we’re ill. Regardless, a record keeping journal can be essential. Perhaps you’re well but keeping a food journal in an effort to lose weight or discover the source of a food allergy.
Whatever the reason, if your decision or intuition leads to a journal format rather than a chart or diagram, take the intuitive hint and don’t just chart the data. Instead, give your self the opportunity to include repartee of pithy commentary on the challenges that you face, the feelings you have or the determination you’ve developed, especially when sitting in front of a plate of French fries or a dozen bottles of pills for the second time in one day. Who knows, your story might become a best seller!
Format: Reliquary of Insights
People in transition or confronting their mortality often experience profound resolutions, connections to loved ones and spiritual renewal. Often those recently diagnosed or in recovery experience a surge of creative energy, returning to the practice of playing a musical instrument, writing, artwork, photography or whatever creative mode they’ve enjoyed in the past. Many experience lucid dreams that can be immensely important when coming to terms with overwhelming feelings or fear of death.
If you’re too ill to focus your thoughts as well as you’d like, simply jot down several lines describing insights, dreams or key points of important conversations. Emphasize key points that can later activate your memory when you have more strength to engage in a fuller treatment of events or insights that have moved you.