Helen Dalley first started to journal at the age of 12. And then when the pandemic hit in 2020 and lockdown’s were put in place she found journalling was a great way to boost her own well-being.
Helen has since gone on to develop her journalling and is now teaching others about the positive affects it can have.
Please continue to read Helen’s Guest Blog – The power of creative writing to heal
I’ve kept a journal, or diary, since the age of 12 and ended up writing in my journal a lot when lockdown hit last March to make sense of the new normal. Writing things down was cathartic: it felt good to let it all out on the page and helped me rationalise the situation we found ourselves in.
Creative writing, like composing stories and poems is a great tool to boost wellbeing, too. You can lose yourself in words, characters and other worlds, as I did when attending an online course on Creative Writing and Mindfulness, which used picture prompts for short story writing.
Seeing so many people struggle during lockdown, I considered becoming a counsellor or a life coach in addition to journalism. But then I began to wonder if writing could help others like it had always helped me. I stumbled across an online course called Journal Therapy – I’d never heard of it before.
Intrigued by the idea that writing could be therapeutic, I signed up. Its main premise was that expressive writing can boost wellbeing and help us overcome negative states of mind like depression, and that creative writing had the power to heal, which immediately resonated with me.
As the pandemic set in and lockdowns took their toll I started to ask -What if writing could offer people something to try prior to counselling?
I finished my journal therapy course and devised a PowerPoint that outlined the benefits of journaling, but not before encouraging my Dad to go on a journaling journey with me, writing short stories from picture prompts and encouraging him to share his earliest memories of running, a passion we both share.
Last October, I held my first journal therapy workshop online on Zoom, which was attended by friends and members of a wellbeing Facebook group I joined during lockdown, and a charity I work with in Staffordshire called Walk Talk Action.
A few weeks later, I did another workshop on Facebook Live and held an online journaling session with my childrens’ school, which received good feedback.
I’m currently working on developing a series of workshops for mental health charities and businesses, which will zoom in on stress, grief, anxiety, depression, and anger.
My hope is that journaling might be able to help process any feelings of helplessness and deal with negative emotions.
Some think journaling is about turning out sparkling prose and writing as eloquently as your favourite author. But writing is just a process, a tool to help you understand yourself better and identify patterns of behaviour or stress triggers, for example. The sense of release that writing can provide may prevent you from directing your negativity towards loved ones too. The great thing about journaling is all you need is a pen and paper and you can do it anytime, anywhere. Simple things like writing a daily gratitude journal – noting down three, five or even 10 things you’ve appreciated about a day – can help boost wellbeing and encourage you to be thankful for all the good things in your life.
Your daily gratitude can include simple things that bring you moments of joy, like admiring a beautiful sunrise or your partner bringing you a cup of tea in bed.
If you really don’t like writing that much, you can journal in bullet points, or create clusters: write a word in the middle of the page then free associate around it to gain a greater understanding of your feelings towards a person or situation.
I’ll be doing plenty more journaling to boost my mood and I hope that I’ll be able to help others form a life-long journaling habit along the way, too.
Thank you for reading my guest blog on BabaBaboon,
If you’d like to do some journal therapy with Helen, contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a one-on-one or group session. Discounts available for non-profits and those on low incomes.