The Benefits of Keeping a Lupus Journal
I received my first diary as a Christmas present, its puffed plastic covers clasped together by a small golden lock. On the front cover, a dancing bear stood frozen among cotton candy clouds, the bodyguard to my precious 11-year-old secrets.
Twenty-three years later, I am still journaling in several different forms. It continues to be a safe refuge, a place to tell and find the truth of what is happening in my life without interruption or judgement, which has been especially helpful since my lupus diagnosis.
Self-awareness is integral to living well with lupus, which is why journaling can be a helpful tool in cultivating the physical and mental awareness needed to manage your particular type of lupus. Many people with lupus feel they don’t have anyone to talk to who truly understands. Although our online lupus community is an amazing support, we often forget that sometimes, what we need most is a way to reflect and have a dialogue with ourselves.
Benefits of Journaling
A Safe Place to Vent
Writing down your feelings when you are feeling frustrated, angry or overwhelmed is an easy, guilt-free and safe way to release those negative thoughts. Leaving those thoughts pent up inside your head can cause major stress, which can aggravate your lupus symptoms.
A Way to Find the Good
Journals aren’t just for the lows of life! Your life isn’t just about lupus, it’s important to remember that there are so many things about yourself and your life that are worth writing about.
Problem Solving and Goal Setting
By reading your entries, you are more likely to find a rational solution or pinpoint the real reason why you are feeling a certain way, and even if you don’t, writing it down is a step forward in getting yourself to a different, more positive and productive place. Reflecting on your journal entries can also help you explore your aspirations and set personal goals.
Every person with lupus experiences their own unique mixture of symptoms with different causes and effects. Journaling provides important clues that will help reveal those unique symptom patterns and preventative strategies.
Time for You
Whether it’s for five minutes or an hour, writing in your journal is uninterrupted time purely dedicated to doing something for yourself. We are inundated with prescriptions and medical info every day, but there isn’t enough emphasis on the role that your emotional and mental wellbeing plays in how active your lupus is.
Taking the time to acknowledge and explore how you’re feeling is just as important as a healthy diet and exercise!
Types of Journals
Journaling every day can seem like a daunting task, especially for those with lupus who struggle to complete basic day-to-day activities. Here are some different ways you can take the plunge into journaling without feeling overwhelmed:
Life Events Diary
Back in the fifteenth century, when personal journals started to surface, diaries were comprehensive records of historical events and intimate private life. Diaries were written in frequently and with exhaustive detail.
That kind of journal keeping in today’s fast-paced world seems impossible to obtain, but starting with recording daily events is a good way to start your journaling journey. As an added benefit, by engaging in cognitive recall, you are strengthening your memory.
Remember, it’s not simply an exercise of writing down a list of things you did or what kind of coffee you bought today. What happens in your day is a starting point to exploring your reactions and feelings about what is happening in your life.
Remember not to censor or judge what you feel compelled to write. Your entries don’t have to be long, it is perfectly okay to have entries that are only a few sentences!
Next page: more types of journals, and choosing what’s right for you.