Journaling may seem like a small way to transform your life, but small things can often produce great results. Writing, and journal writing in particular, can be used for home caregivers, family caregivers, and seniors in ways that can enrich the act of caregiving and also transform the way we approach aspects of our lives.
There are different types of journaling and not one size fits all, so it is best to determine the type of journaling that is best for you or your clients. Types of journaling include:
These are just a few of the many examples available. Try one or all — it is entirely fine and normal to maintain more than one type of journal.
The Benefits of Journaling
The benefits of journaling are numerous and can transform many areas of your life. For home caregivers, journaling can lead to improved home care services and relationships with clients, as well as improvements in personal life. For seniors and people with disabilities, the benefits can ease certain symptoms and help manage stress.
Improves Physical Health
The health benefits from keeping a diary correlate with the stress reduction effects of journaling. Current research into the benefits of journaling suggest that the activity can even improve your physical health. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association cited benefits to health that included strengthening the immune system, reducing inflammation, and decreasing symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Some studies show improved liver and lung function, as well. An improved immune system also has the direct benefits of less illness and faster healing.
Journaling boosts memory in several ways. Reading old entries can trigger memories of events and experiences you have forgotten. The very act of writing something down improves your ability to remember it later. This is one of the reasons the act of note taking is so important in during lectures in school. Some scientists have concluded that the best chance you have for using journaling to improve memory is to write at bedtime. In one study, participants who journaled at night had better memory recall of events than the participants who journaled at other times of the day.
Provides a Source of Therapy
Beyond its ability to improve memory, journaling also enables us to keep a record of our lives when our minds start to fail us. Journaling has been used with seniors who have dementia as a way to maintain their sense of identity. The practice also has benefits for dealing with trauma, as it provides a form of release. Studies have also found decreased symptoms of depression from trauma in people who journal about their traumatic events.
Helps Balance Emotions
Part of balancing emotions is understanding them, and journaling can be a method for achieving that. If you have a strong reaction to something, or are feeling a particular emotion, write about it! Things can unlock while you are journaling and “aha” moments often materialize. Journaling is also a release, and a way to channel and transform emotions into something creative and insightful. When you write about your emotions, you are literally transferring them from your mind, through your body, and onto the page.
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Journaling can be a great stress reduction option for seniors and people with disabilities. Unlike exercise or activities such as yoga, journaling requires minimal mobility and physical effort. All of the benefits of journaling add up and result in reduced stress and anxiety. Journaling is a way for your mind to relax and be calm. Writing also provides an escape and sense of purpose. There is also a small bonus of shopping therapy — you can choose from all sorts of journals, pens, pencils, and bookmarks. In this way, journaling is a way to treat yourself to something nice that is affordable and unique to your personality. Journaling is so successful for reducing stress that therapists recommend it as a stress management tool!
Strengthens Cognitive Abilities
Since journaling strengthens the hippocampus region of the brain, it also improves cognitive abilities. The hippocampus is an area of the brain related to emotion regulation, learning, and memory. This is especially useful as we age or for seniors who have dementia. Improved cognition can even lead to better motor skills and improved mobility.
Seeing your goals and dreams written down on paper can sometimes be just the motivation you need to pursue them. Daily reminders and positive aspirations in your journal slowly builds confidence and increases productivity and motivation. If you’re a home caregiver, you can use this as an exercise with seniors in your care. Writing prompts, such as the ones below, can help unlock creative ideas and goals in seniors and anyone who is keeping a journal. Home caregivers can use these prompts for themselves, too!
List three small goals to accomplish this week
What are three aspirations you had as a child?
What are three aspirations you have right now?
What is the biggest goal of your life? Did you accomplish it? If yes, how so? If not, are there ways to still accomplish this goal?
If you have a goal that is too large to accomplish as a senior, in what ways can we minimize it and transform it into a goal that can be achieved?
What is something positive you can tell yourself each day?
These are just some prompts to get the creative juices flowing and the wheels turning! Feel free to add your own prompts to the list.
Helps Problem Solve
Sometimes writing things down is the key to being able to see things clearly. Journaling about your experiences, thoughts, and feelings over a certain problem and then re-reading and reflecting on the entries can provide clarity. Keeping regular entries can also reveal patterns overtime that you may otherwise not be aware of. Memory can be a tricky thing. We may think we remember an experience accurately, but reading what our thoughts and feelings were at the time of the event can paint a different picture. We also gain insight into what worked in certain situations and what didn’t. In this way, recording your experiences, thoughts, and feelings in a journal can help you learn more about yourself and situations you encounter, strengthening your ability to problem solve the next time you are in similar situations.
The Benefits of Home Care Services
There is one more benefit of journaling to include and that’s enjoyment. Simply journaling for the pleasure of journaling is rewarding in itself. This is the same way we feel about home caregiving. There are many benefits of home care services, but the act of home caregiving is also rewarding all on its own. If you have questions about home care services, please feel free to reach out to us at one of our Northern California locations or leave a comment for us on social media.