Reduce Stress by Journaling
Write your way to overall wellness
Janiece C. Ervin, RDH, BSDH
I used to think that journaling was pointless. I was under the impression that journal writing was for the lonely and broken hearted, like Bridget in the movie Bridget Jones's Diary singing "All by Myself" by Celine Dion with a bottle of wine, while crying and writing about what a "spinster" she was.
Then 2020 happened. The dental world shut down, and I decided to take a course hosted by a dear friend, which included journaling. I was first in my group to pipe up and say that I was not excited about the journaling part of the class, but I said I would give it a try to get the whole experience. Fast-forward to 2022: I have purchased my third journal, reduced my stress, raised my self-awareness, and enjoy the self-reflection that journaling has provided me.
There is an abundance of literature supporting the benefits of journaling. Two studies1,2—one conducted with nursing students during the COVID-19 pandemic and the other conducted with registered nurses and published in 2017—concluded that journaling appeared to help with perspective and the emotional and behavioral aspects of nurses' lives while navigating the challenges of their education, careers, and the COVID-19 crisis. One participant stated: "I am able to refocus and reassess the situation from a different angle…The power to step away from a stressful situation or experience by applying my emotions to paper has changed my life. Situations at work do not upset me as easily today."2
Hygienists can similarly benefit from journaling. In addition to reducing stress more generally, journaling can also:
• Provide mental clarity
• Help fight negative self-talk
• Provide self-reflection
• Facilitate goal setting and tracking
• Record ideas on-the-go to revisit later
Ready to start writing yourself to overall wellness? The first step in journal writing is to be open to the process. There are no rules on how to journal. Journaling gives you a voice—a personal space to release emotions and make sense of your life experiences. With frustrations high and burnout on the rise in our industry, clinicians need to be armed with a variety of techniques in their personal wellness toolbox.
About the Author
Janiece C. Ervin, RDH, BSDH, is the founder of the Dental Explorer Network in Denver, Colorado.
1. Ko H, Kim S, Kim E. Nursing students' experiences of gratitude journaling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare. 2021;9(11):1473.
2. Dimitroff LJ, Sliwoski L, O'Brien S, Nichols LW. Change your life through journaling - The benefits of journaling for registered nurses. J Nurs Educ Pract. 2017;7(2):90-98.