The simple act of putting thoughts to paper has psychological power. If you're the kind of person who likes to write (and wouldn't see doing so as another stressful chore for your to-do list), consider the following types of written journals as a way to offload stress and feel better.
1. A gratitude journal
At the risk of sounding Oprah-esque, keeping a notebook in which you jot down one (or more) things you're grateful for each day is a great way to find silver linings in hard times. The process recalibrates your mindset, psychologists say, and helps you think beyond your losses and your challenges.
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2. A venting diary
Some caregivers start writing about gratitude but wind up using the notebook to vent instead. Guess what? That's a proven stress-buster, too. Whether you're writing positive or negative thoughts, getting them out of your body and onto paper has a stress-releasing, beneficial effect. You may even want to pour out your thoughts on paper and then burn them afterward; it's not important to have a written record (indeed, this can be stressful if you're worried about someone else reading it). It's most important to simply release the feelings.
3. A reminiscence log
A healing technique for grappling with the grieving that comes with dementia caregiving is to write down happy thoughts about your loved one. Frame it as a life story or as your personal story together. Record random memories or do it chronologically. Putting down an anecdote a day can help you cherish the good times and fortify you through the hard ones.
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