Self Care: Journaling

One evening sitting on the couch, Justin began asking me about my day.  This sounds like a really nice gesture and on any other day it would have been.  On this particular day, I had nothing left in me.  No words.  No emotions.  I felt empty.  The mere act of speaking required something from me that I didn’t possess to give.  I can’t remember what I said.  But I do remember how I said it… and, it wasn’t pretty.  Something to the effect of, “I can’t believe you are asking me questions”.  Picture a toddler meltdown and then take it up a few notches and that’s where you would find me.  Like I said, it wasn’t pretty.  And the next day, I felt embarrassed for my irrational outburst of emotion.

Most of us live by a  busy, do everything (perfectly while we’re at it) mentality.  The essence of our existence crumbles resulting in a “running on empty” phenomena. Running on empty only lasts but only for a short time….it will precede a breakdown.  Depending on how long you have been running on empty will indicate the severity of the breakdown.  I certainly experienced a mini breakdown.

The holidays while filled with music, lights and yummy treats often bring out the worst (speaking from personal experience). In the midsts of this season, I want you to think about ways to take care of yourself.  Journaling continues to help me process emotions and put things in perspective.  In the above-mentioned meltdown, I had skipped weeks of self-care, including journaling.

Recently, I spoke to a women’s group at my church about the benefits of journaling.  They found it incredibly helpful, and I hope you do to:

  1. Journaling helps you to process emotions.  You guys know I’m a counselor, right?  Processing emotions help to “clean out the refrigerator” of what’s happened in your life.  Just like the fridge, if you shove things to the back and try to forget about them, it turns into a science project (ahem…again, speaking from experience).  Dealing with emotions is messy but if you process often and frequently it’s usually a quicker, easier process.
  2. Journaling brings perspective – I love sitting down from time to time and looking at glimpses of my past.  Sure, it is cringe-worthy at times.  But, overall I can see why I was struggling and often see a resolution.  In our everyday lives, we are often too close to the picture.  Journaling helps you to take a step back and see things from a different perspective.
  3. Journaling is just for you. Its a place to be messy, be real.  No one is going to read it…except maybe after I die…but then it won’t really matter.  If you are anything like me, you want to live for others.  Journaling is just for you.  You can say whatever you want, however, you want to say it.  This is incredibly freeing.
  4. Creates margin space – By taking 15 minutes or so every few days, you force yourself to slow down.  Get a cup of coffee and just be still with yourself.  This may feel uncomfortable at first, but you will find the benefits far outweigh the uncomfortability.
  5. I love to prayer journal – So for me, my journals become a sacred place of remembrance. I see prayers answered and experience God’s presence.

A few rules:

  1. Handwrite – this increases the benefits because you are using both parts of your brain promoting integration of heart, mind, and spirit.
  2. Don’t spend too much time by getting lost in the details.  Try and spend 15-20 a few times a week.  Start by asking yourself a question or with one theme in mind.
  3. Get a nice journal and pen – Let this be a sacred time just for you.  Enjoy it 🙂

Journaling won’t solve all your problems.  But, it can be a constant companion and source of energy renewal. You have people in your life you love and responsibilities requiring your constant attention.  Take care of yourself and I believe journaling to be a helpful tool to do this.

Blessings to you,



  • Bethany

    Melissa! I have you to thank for freeing me up to use journaling to process thru life and emotions! It is a practice that has so incredibly benefitted me! Thanks so much!!

    December 5, 2015 at 2:37 pm
    • melissaClark
      Melissa Clark

      You are so welcome!

      December 5, 2015 at 3:18 pm
  • Sandy Strop

    Love, love, love! I will refer others to these 5 wonderful points on journaling with 3 rules.

    December 16, 2015 at 4:53 pm

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