by | 12.04.2019

Post-Trauma Stress Management

How can Journaling Help You after a traumatic event?

The act of writing helps us to slow down to put our thoughts on paper.

After a traumatic event or—in our case in Albania—after multiple traumatic events, it’s hard to slow down and process. The TV is on. News comes in. The phone rings.

We help ourselves recover from the trauma by processing it. Journaling has the potential to help us break self-defeating patterns of thinking about the event. It also gives us the chance to be more mindful about how the event has impacted us.

Getting started with Journaling

Take five minutes to write about a specific event—whether it’s what happened to you at 3:54am on November 26 or something after that. Here are a few tips :

  1. Put devices on silent.
  2. Use a notebook and a pen or pencil. If you want to be playful, use colored pencils.
  3. Take a few deep breaths and then just begin writing what comes to your mind.
  4. After you finish, reread what you wrote out loud.

Most people that journal regularly find that it’s helpful to write at the same time each day. It becomes a normal daily habit similar to taking a shower or making your breakfast.

As you go back to work, you may experience some of the following behaviors:

  • Inability to focus
  • Irritability
  • Tension
  • Forgetfulness

If one moment during the day is particularly disturbing, make a note of it. Then when you have your journaling time, go back and write about it.

Journaling does not have to focus on a specific moment. To see a few examples of my journaling, check out:

Retelling the Earthquake Story with my son.

AW-some and AWE-ful. Some of the best and worst moments.​​​

I wrote the first journal entry as a part of my morning practice of journaling. The second entry was also part of this practice, but I edited it extensively before posting.

For more on recovering from the earthquake, see a post on Deep Breathing.

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