Research Focus

Can Journaling Relieve Caregiver Anxiety?

  • March 02, 2017

If you’re a caregiver for a senior loved one, you may have heard many tips for relieving caregiver stress:

But have you considered journaling as a way to relieve caregiver anxiety?

The Science Behind Journaling to Relieve Stress

Experts recommend journaling as a way to sort out your feelings, count your blessings, and help you stay sane when life gets crazy. In fact, regular journaling may even improve your health, says University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker.

Writing down your worries may strengthen your immune cells, giving you a better chance of fighting off infections and staying healthy. This way, you can be a better caregiver, employee, parent, and friend. Journaling may help you fulfill your most-important roles with a positive outlook and plenty of energy.

How Journaling Works

Journaling helps to:

  • Reduce the intensity of stress and anger by writing these feelings down
  • Solve problems through creativity and intuition
  • Recognize productive (and unproductive) patterns in your life
  • Track your progress and growth for increased confidence
  • Sort out your feelings

Benefits of Journaling for Caregivers

These benefits are especially true for caregivers. Journaling gives you a “safe space” to share your thoughts and feelings without worrying about being judged or feeling guilty.

Being a caregiver creates a jumble of emotions that may be difficult to sort out. Seeing your feelings on paper may help you determine solutions to problems. And even if you don’t spot the answer right away, writing down your problems will help you feel better.

A Written Record of Your Progress

If you take time to read your journals months later, you may detect patterns of emotional progress. Or even ways you’ve gotten better at handling your duties from a practical standpoint.

You might also recognize the coping skills you’ve developed that help relieve your stress as a caregiver. Your journal can help remind you to continue employing these skills during the most difficult moments.

Ideas for Journaling

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to begin a journal. Some caregivers like to invest in a pretty book. For others, a plain spiral notebook will do.

Sit down some place quiet and set your intention to simply write a few lines. Or set a timer for five minutes. Don’t edit or censor yourself; just write whatever comes into your mind.

Count Your Blessings in a Journal

Some experts recommend keeping a gratitude journal. Take time each day to write down three things you’re grateful for.

A number of studies show that people who take time to count their blessings either in a journal or by writing thank you notes are happier, overall.

Find Time to Journal

It might seem impossible to cram another “task” into your already-packed day. But finding five minutes to journal can help reduce your stress. In the long run, it will save you time and energy and help you be more productive as you care for your loved one.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, Five Star Senior Living can also help with respite care for your loved one. Learn more today.


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