If you’re like most nurses, you probably got into the nursing profession to help people and make a difference in their lives. At times, however, the constant demands of caring for patients can feel overwhelming and exhausting. By making your personal, self-care activities a top priority, you can help ease the burden that often comes with advocating for the health and well-being of others.

One such self-care activity is journaling. With just a few minutes a day, journaling your thoughts and feelings can help you cope with day-to-day challenges, work through difficult situations, and create a positive outlet for you to express yourself. Here are five ways journaling can improve your mental health and help make your job (and life) a little easier.

1. Journaling provides a safe space for your feelings.

It’s easy to be overly critical, wondering if you should have done or said something differently during a situation in your place of work. You might be upset, angry, or frustrated by the outcome; and you may think you have no one to talk to about these feelings. Maybe you’ve grown accustomed to keeping your feelings bottled up inside. Through the magic of a pen and some paper (or your computer), the University of Rochester Medical Center endorses journaling as an avenue for honest, positive self-reflection and a private place to help you pinpoint negative thoughts and behaviors that might be holding you back.

2. Journaling can help you locate the source of your stress.

Once you’ve identified a problem or pattern in your life, journaling can help you recognize the cause of your stress and develop more desirable solutions to combat those stressors. When you write about troublesome experiences, you release the emotional magnitude of those feelings. The act of releasing intense feelings will leave you calmer and more in control.

3. Journaling helps lowers your stress levels.

Your journal is a place for you to be truthful about the things you’re struggling with while also honoring yourself for the brave choices you’re making towards self-improvement. Although it might seem more natural to journal about your problems, don’t forget to write about your successes. By recording the moments of victory in your journal, you’ll also reduce stress and be able to reflect back on your experiences when you need some encouragement.

4. Journaling helps you understand yourself better.

Psych Central, the Internet’s largest and oldest independent mental health social network, recommends a routine writing practice as part of your self-care activities. “You will get to know what makes you feel happy and confident. You will also become clear about situations and people who are toxic for you—important information for your emotional well-being,” says the website.

5. Journaling has been associated with significant health benefits.

You already know that journaling diminishes stress. But did you also know several studies have shown its effectiveness at decreasing anxiety and depression, enhancing creativity, increasing problem-solving abilities, lowering blood pressure, and boosting the immune system? That’s right! So set aside a few minutes every day, and let your thoughts flow onto the page. There are no rules, and you’ll soon discover it’s one of the cheapest and most nurturing acts you can do for yourself.

Jennifer Lelwica Buttaccio

Jenny Lelwica Buttaccio, OTR/L, is a Chicago-based, freelance lifestyle writer, licensed occupational therapist, and certified Pilates instructor. Her expertise is in health, wellness, fitness, and chronic illness management.

Latest posts by Jennifer Lelwica Buttaccio (see all)

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