How To Get Unstuck When It Comes To Journaling

Journaling and your nervous system

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So, you’ve purchased another journal, hoping this time it will be the magical one that unlocks your journaling prowess. I’ve got some good and bad news for you: the journal isn’t the thing that’s going to get you unstuck; however, tapping into your nervous system will!

Read on to see what the main two types of problems with journaling are and the solution to getting rid of writer’s block.

Problem 1: Trying to gratitude journal when you’re not grateful

There are a few places where “fake it till you make it” doesn’t work, and journaling is one of them. When we can’t quite access that feeling of gratitude but force ourselves to go through the motions, it’s doing us no good. It’s a waste of time and energy.

Solution: Journaling for all your emotions: rage, anxiety, depression, clarity, and more

One of the most significant benefits of journaling is that it provides an outlet for all your emotions, not just the positive ones. Sometimes, you need to get the negative feelings out, and rage journaling is an excellent tool for that. 

It might feel strange to write down angry or sad thoughts, to catalogue them, but it can also be incredibly cathartic.

Write down your thoughts in detail, get it all out on paper, and then rip it up or burn it. This will help you release these feelings, declutter your mind, and move on. We have a rage journaling process for you to go through here.

Problem 2: Journaling when your nervous system is stuck

Our nervous system ebbs and flows out of different states. When we experience a high-level of stress, or we haven’t been taught healthy coping tools, we can get stuck in one of these states. We think it’s the wrong journal or system for us when, really, it’s the state of our body.

When our nervous system is stuck in overdrive or hyper-arousal, we can feel anxious and overwhelmed. It’s difficult to focus and stay on task. We flip through the pages looking at the prompts, but not really taking them in, hoping that one will jump off the page and lure us in. Journaling begins to feel like a chore and we repeatedly put it off.

If our nervous system is stuck in a depressed, numbed-out state called hypo-arousal, finding the energy or the willpower to do the journaling feels too much. We’re lethargic, and because we’re numb to our feelings, everything feels flat and emotionless; we’re just blasé about the whole experience, which doesn’t ignite us to pick it up and do it again.

We can also feel like it’s not perfect enough, or we’ll do a bad job at it, and save it for another day when we’re feeling more up to it. (Hint, that day doesn’t come.)

Solution: Moving out of feeling stuck

One way you can soothe yourself is to do a couple of somatic exercises to move yourself manually into rest and relaxation, then set a timer for 3 minutes to journal. We can usually do something uncomfortable for a full three minutes. 

Once you finish, reward yourself with something you enjoy (try and stay away from a food reward to avoid addiction triggers) to help cement the event as a positive feeling. 

Then, try again tomorrow. See if you can’t get to four minutes, then five, and eventually up to ten minutes of journaling time for yourself. Try tempting yourself a special pen, highlighter, or stickers to put into your journal as a reward for completing a full week.

Solution: Journaling to uncover your triggers

When we go through difficult experiences, we often suppress our feelings to cope. However, this can lead to lingering emotional pain and trauma. We can find trauma resolution through journaling.

Journaling can help you identify your triggers and work through them. Try writing about a difficult experience or person, and reflect on how it affected you. 

Once you pinpoint your triggers, you can begin the brain retraining process to create new thoughts, behaviors, and habits around these experiences.

Making journaling work for you

Journaling doesn’t have to be another thing on your to-do list. It can be a healing tool for you to learn more about yourself and how you respond and become more aware of which behaviors and actions you might want to evolve to create the life you want to live.

If you want a journal that walks you through self-coaching and self-actualization, check our Journal for People Who Don’t Know How to Journal (but want to!)

Happy regulating and happy journaling!

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