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How Journaling Can Help Alleviate Work Stress

By: SmallBizClub


Happy woman writing a journal in her office

We all deal with stress throughout our day, and sometimes all we need is a healthy outlet to alleviate stress and help organize your thoughts. It might sound a little cheesy, but journaling is one of the best ways to clear the cobwebs and make space for new ideas! 

Journaling can take many different forms, and some may enjoy a stream of consciousness style of writing while others may use it to keep track of specific events and ideas. Journaling doesn’t have to be only personal either, it can be a way to sort out ideas for current projects or write down thoughts about future ones. 

Journaling is an extremely helpful way to relieve stress and shed any thoughts, feelings or ideas that you feel may be cluttering your mind and contributing to daily frustrations. We asked some top level executives to share their thoughts on journaling and how it can be a useful tool for every kind of person to relieve stress and organize thoughts. 

Journaling Helps Channel Thoughts and Feelings 

When you express your thoughts, feelings, or frustrations by writing them down, you’re engaging in a centuries old practice of using your feelings to empower yourself to make better decisions. When we don’t express these feelings in a healthy way, it can come out in undesirable ways such as showing outward anger toward your coworkers. Writing things down can help us respond to our feelings rather than react. 

“Journaling is a great way to avoid being reactionary at work,” notes Heidi Streeter, Founder of Holiday St. “We are all to some degree trained to react when we feel frustrated or angry, but we have to keep positive relationships with our co-workers and supervisors. Journaling can help to work through those feelings and determine an appropriate response to your work stresses.” 

We are told we shouldn’t ignore our feelings, but many of us do tend to hold them in. Writing them down is a healthy way to channel them into positive behaviors and responses to situations that arise at work. 

It can also be a healthy practice without the need to express a specific feeling, thought or frustration. “Journaling is an important practice that doesn’t always need an end goal. Remember that it’s not for anyone but you, and it doesn’t have to look or read a certain way to be effective personal journaling,” offers Miles Beckett, CEO and Co-founder of Flossy

Take the pressure off to write down anything specific. Journal writing is a learned habit and doing it for the sake of it is part of the process! Ultimately, this practice is meant to clear your mind and leave your work problems at work as much as possible. 

Founder, CEO, and Head of Design at Unico Nutrition Lance Herrington says, “No matter what job you work, it can be difficult to let your work issues stay there at the end of the day. Journaling is a great outlet after you have a frustrating day and allows you to shed some of those feelings and take time for yourself to rest and relax.” 

Regardless of your goal, we all need some form of practice to feel and validate the emotions we feel throughout the day. “We are taught to keep our emotions at bay and essentially ignore them when we are at work,” says Michael Jankie, Founder of The Natural Patch Co. “Not only is this an unreasonable expectation, it’s unhealthy to encourage no means of outlet for your frustrations. Journaling helps us shed our negative feelings and keeps our stress levels lower.” 

Too often we find ourselves burnt out and overwhelmed from keeping our feelings held in without expressing them. Not only is this unhealthy, it creates unnecessary issues in our daily lives such as fatigue, frustrations and poor health. The more you learn to organize your thoughts and express the things that bother you or make you excited throughout the day, the better you will understand your emotions and reactions. 

Journaling Helps Organize Project Ideas 

As a professional practice, journaling is a great way to keep lists of ideas and work through your thoughts on current projects. “Journaling is also a great professional practice. Even if you are in a normal day to day meeting, taking notes and jotting down ideas will serve in your future when new problems arise and solutions are needed,” shares Justin Chan Growth Manager at JuneShine

This way, you will always be sure that you are keeping track of what goes on at work and any important details that you might have missed otherwise. How many of us have been in a meeting and totally missed an important company policy or change in procedure? Journaling is a great way to get around missing key pieces of information. 

It will serve especially well to have detailed notes on company operations when you start big projects. Using writing as a way to brainstorm with your team is an asset you can always draw on if one uses journaling to organize their project ideas. “Journaling can help organize your ideas for big projects. Sometimes having a canvas to throw a bunch of ideas on will help you figure out the best solution to whatever issues or problems you might be working through in your department,” says Matthew Mundt, Founder and CEO of HugSleep

Similarly, journaling can help you keep your ideas your own. Sometimes when we collaborate frequently, it can be easy to let others get in your head and second guess your ideas. “Sometimes when we’re working through a problem, we get too wrapped up in other people’s ideas and opinions. It can be helpful to use journaling as a way to write down all the possible solutions, and make a pros and cons list for each one,” states Lauren Kleinman Co-founder of The Quality Edit. “This will help you organize your thoughts and narrow down the solution to your problem.” 

Sometimes we have good ideas, and sometimes we have not so good ideas. That’s part of the process and a big part of being an entrepreneur! “Working through your ideas and shedding the bad ones is essential for narrowing down the best way forward in any situation,” offers Dan Lewis of Convoy. “Sometimes we just need to see it written down or said out loud to know if we had a good idea, or a scrap idea. Keep a journal to sift through your ideas and get rid of the ones that don’t work!” 

Journaling for Problem Solving and Self Exploration

Keeping a journal helps us solve any problems we might be dealing with throughout the day. “Journaling allows people to collect their thoughts and feelings. This is a great tool in a work environment, especially during a particularly stressful or busy time,” notes Jean Gregoire, Founder & CEO of Lovebox. “By jotting down one’s thoughts on paper, employees can get out their frustrations and sometimes even come up with solutions to problems they have been experiencing. Journaling is great for both stress relief and problem-solving.” 

A popular technique when we are dealing with a problem that seemingly has no solution is to write a fictional letter to someone describing the solution. Journaling provides a great creative outlet for problem solving and allows us to use and flex our imaginations to problem solve and explore ourselves. 

“Sometimes journaling can just be for fun!” shares Matt Rubright, Head of Growth at Candidate. “When it becomes a habit, you will end up looking forward to your moments when you get to document the things that happened throughout the day, and what you want to do differently the next. Journaling isn’t just a way to express emotions, it’s also a way to track and encourage self growth and exploration.” This is why it’s important to take it on as a regular practice like an exercise routine. 

Organize by Date

Whatever your preferred style of journaling, it’s important to keep things organized for yourself so you can look back and track your progress! Ryan Lee, Co-founder and CEO of Rooted suggests organizing by date, “Journaling can take any format, but make sure you are dating your entries if you jot down work ideas so that you can keep track of when and where you had the idea. This will help you stay organized and will improve your memory overall.” Organizing your entries by date is a good practice because it allows you to revisit old problems and potential solutions. Similarly, it helps us retain information we may have forgotten otherwise. 

“It’s proven that physically writing things down helps us retain information to a greater degree,” says Lauren Singer of Package Free Shop. “The physicality of writing helps us link the action with the information, allowing us to retain the information more easily.” You can also easily look back on any thoughts or ideas you may have missed if you get in the habit of documenting your thoughts. 

Journaling helps us release frustrating thoughts, emotions and organize our thoughts and ideas. Anyone who has had trouble solving a problem has likely used journaling to some degree, but most of us don’t do it on a regular basis. Try journaling every day for a month, and see how it affects your overall temperament and workflow! 

Published: November 23, 2021

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