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Using journaling to lower stress

Stress comes from everywhere. Worries abound in all areas of life. Dwelling on work, family, your health and other obligations can become overwhelming. Running everything through your mind without an outlet for stress can make it difficult to sleep.

When you need to rest, your mind gets hyper focused on stressful things, making it hard to fall asleep. Not to mention the many symptoms of chronic illnesses that can prevent restful sleep. During the day it can be easy to push worries down and think about other things, but it’s much harder to distract ourselves when we are lying in bed trying to wind down.

Pinterest image with a woman sleeping in white bedding on the left hand side. On the right, a white block with text overlay reading "Sleep Better While Stressed Part 2"

There are a lot of ways to relieve stress and calm our thoughts. One of the most effective is journaling. Journaling works because it

  • Focuses your thoughts
  • Is a creative outlet
  • Gets thoughts out of your head
  • Creates an opportunity for problem solving

Journaling before bed can help reduce stress and make it easier to fall asleep. Here’s why:

Journaling helps you get a handle on your thoughts

Journaling helps you focus your thoughts and get them out on paper (digital or real). Instead of ruminating on the issues and stressing, journaling helps organize thoughts and process them. It makes it easier to better understand the roots of your stress and gather your thoughts rather than continuously running them over in your mind.

close up photo of notebook with pen
Photo by Alina Vilchenko on

Journaling uses a different part of the brain

The act of writing and journaling uses the creative side or your brain. This can help ease stress. Depending on the type of journaling you do, it may help raise the dopamine in your brain chemistry, thereby reducing stress. Journaling doesn’t have to be limited to writing. It can be as creative as you’d like including, but not limited to, colouring, doodling, writing poetry, or any other form of expression. A bullet journal is a great outlet for creatives as it is a fully customized and personal process.

Journaling removes thoughts from your head

Writing things down tricks your brain into dumping them and leaving them on the page. A common section that is included in journals, especially bullet journals, is a “brain dump” for absolutely anything you want to put down that can’t be categorized or expanded on. Journaling can help get thoughts out of your head so your mind can wander on to something else. Psychologically, your brain believes that the thoughts are categorized on the page and don’t need as much intense focus anymore so your mind can begin to relax.

Pinterest image with white background, a black leather journal, a small bottle of black ink and text overlay with "Using Journaling to Reduce Stress at Bedtime"

Journaling triggers problem solving

In the same way clearing your mind in the shower leads to epiphanies, journaling can trigger problem solving. Worrying about stress in your mind clutters it with negative thoughts and anxiety. The process of journaling to reduce stress triggers our natural problem-solving skills and makes it easier to find solutions. You give yourself the opportunity to put your thoughts in order by writing them down. Having to replay these thoughts can lead to solutions or alternate ideas.

Journaling before bed can help rid your mind of stress and leave your psyche feeling calm. This can help your mind shut down easily and drift into REM sleep where the mind and body can repair and heal. Practice journaling before bedtime to help your mind release the worries of the day and prepare for a great night’s rest. Or at least a better night’s rest.

white orange and gray sleeping tabby cat lying on gray textile
Photo by Fabricio Trujillo on

If you need some assistance in getting your thoughts together, check out my Sleep for Health printable journal just below this post. It contains 25 writing prompts to help you improve your sleeping patterns. Use discount code SLEEP to get 20% off.

If you suffer from painsomnia, I have some tips on that as well.

In the next post, I will be discussing apps that can help reduce stress at bedtime. Be sure to sign up for the mailing list to find out more.

Do you use a journal to reduce your stress at bedtime? What methods work for you? Let me know in the comments below.

Check out the rest of the Sleep Better While Stressed series:

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Pinterest image of white desk with an open journal with a black pen on top. A white tea pot and a cup of tea are in the top right corner of the desk.

Using Journaling to Reduce Stress at Bedtime