Journaling got me through cancer

One thing I always say is that not everyone is a writer, but everyone can find something to write about. I am a person who is a natural “talker” so I guess you could say that I am also a natural born “writer”.

During my cancer journey with peritoneal mesothelioma, I have learned many things that help me get through challenging times. One of the things is what I like to call “brain dumping,” which is pretty much another term for journaling. You will see that I use these two words interchangeably in this article. Brain dumping is when you take a moment to write down your thoughts, feelings and/or ideas.

In the midst of cancer, so many things went through my mind. There were lots of things to remember, meds to keep up with, whatever. But then there are other things playing in my head like fear, anxiety and my future. Brain dumping has not only helped me keep up with things, but it has also helped me get things out of my head. When I was feeling overwhelmed, journaling allowed me to think more clearly and alleviate my anxiety. I see it as a mindfulness exercise.

Here’s my introduction to journaling and my advice for others:

Find a magazine you like. There are now so many journals and notebooks on the market that you should be able to find one or two that might tickle your imagination. They come in many sizes, shapes and colors. Don’t forget your pen or pencil! Place your journal in an easily accessible place. I keep my diaries on my bedside table. That way, on those nights I can’t sleep, I just grab it and start writing. You can even put it in your purse or pocket. If you know where it is, you don’t have to look for it. Don’t think, just write. Don’t think that you have to write all day every day; Whenever you feel like your mind is racing, you can’t think straight, or you need to get something out of the way, just write. Whatever comes to mind, write it down, don’t worry about things being misspelled or grammatically correct. You can draw too. I’m not good at drawing, but use your journal as you see fit. If you want to draw, do what feels right and most comfortable for you.

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My reasons why you should start journaling

Decreases stress Helps organize your thoughts Improves focus and concentration May help improve memory and recall Clears your mind

More than a decade after my cancer, I continue to make brain trash and have added many journals and pens to my collection over the years. It has become part of my weekly routine.

Try to keep a journal and remember that you are doing something good for your mind and body. It’s easy and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Find what works best for you and practice that. You’ll thank me later, after you start journaling.

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