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Mental Wellness

Writing as Detangler

Feeling overwhelmed? Like thoughts and emotions are swirling and it’s confusing  to even pinpoint where to begin processing?

I’ve been there. So have a number of my therapy clients over the years.

When it’s hard to find the words to describe how you feel, turning to a journal can help you get your thoughts together so you can express how you feel and what you need, but sometimes a blank page is just as overwhelming. The simple exercise below is a gentle framework to follow to start organizing your thoughts and emotions:

1 – Make a list of the emotions you are feeling right now, focusing on just the emotions and not explaining them (yet). This is likely just a list of single words (angry, worried, joyful, etc.) right now.

2 – Pick one of the emotions from the list you created, and flesh it out a little. Vent all the thoughts around that emotion, add in the details if there was a triggering event, note who is involved, etc. Write until it’s all out!

3 – Write about what you want to happen regarding it; maybe an apology, maybe a windfall of cash, maybe one more hug with a lost loved one. It doesn’t have to be realistic – the real gain is in the practice of identifying what you want and need.

4 – Write out some ideas for an action step for yourself. Maybe there is something you can do to remedy or repair the situation. Maybe there is a way to reach out to someone for support for those unfixable situations. Maybe it’s just a plan focusing on caring for yourself and your nervous system as you sit with some heavy stuff.

5 – Circle back to step one and repeat with another emotion from your list until you are noticing a little more ease and clarity.

As with anything, notice how you are feeling before, during and after this exercise, and modify it to meet your needs. Sometimes journaling can bring up difficult emotions, frustration at repeated patterns, and other issues that indicate some additional support, like therapy, may be helpful. Hopefully, though, it brings about new ideas, new perspectives on old patterns, and a moment of reconnection to your inner Self!

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by annebrady

Anne is the proud mother of a feisty daughter and currently steeped in the toddler years. In her spare time, she is a therapist in private practice and offers Creating Wellness workshops. Her work focuses on helping women reconnect to themselves and learn to take up space in their own lives – boosting their emotional wellness and overall satisfaction along the way.


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