Helping Families Start on a Journaling Journey

woman journaling
Photo by Charlotte May from Pexels

Finding easy, accessible ways to communicate and connect becomes difficult during times of great stress. Journaling is one technique that can help. Journaling has many benefits to both physical wellness and mental health. These benefits include reducing stress, improving mood and communication skills, and helping with the healthy processing of feelings, thoughts, and emotions. Read more on the overall benefits of journaling here.

With so many activities now virtual, journaling also allows one to disconnect from technology and find a few moments of quiet to check in with oneself. Below are some ideas and resources for families to begin incorporating journaling into individual habits and shared activities. 

Journaling for military spouses: 

This article, “6 Reasons Why Every Military Spouse Should Keep a Journal,” highlights specific benefits for military spouses during times of deployments. In one study, researchers found that participants writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events had significantly better physical and psychological outcomes compared with those who wrote about neutral topics” (Lauren Tamm, MilSpouse Life). Journaling is a tool that can assist in processing feelings and thoughts, which can quickly pile up. This is especially the case for partners experiencing the instability of frequent moves, single parenting, and other unique transitions.

Even during a busy day, carving out just 10 minutes to translate thoughts and feelings can be significant. Time spent journaling allows one to truly reflect on their daily journey. It can be a tool to process complex feelings and thoughts during isolating times. Journaling also strengthens personal resilience, which has greater implications for each member of the family.

Journaling for families: 

Journaling can also be a shared activity! 

  • This article from A Family For Every Child notes, “Journaling as a family can be a therapeutic bonding experience and create a record of memories. Each member of the family has a unique perspective on life. A similar event will be recorded in multiple unique ways by each member of the family. The family journal will, therefore, cease to be a monotonous narrative through a single eye and become the combined efforts of all persons in the home” (Bronwyn Leigh, A Family For Every Child). While a journal can help in expressing difficult emotions, it can also help to celebrate and remember precious family memories! 
  • Virtual classes, remote working, and bigger external factors may make adding another “task” seem difficult for caregivers and kids. Journal Buddies is a website that provides shared writing prompts, ideas, tips, and fun printables for families to begin writing and expressing themselves together. They also have a section providing “Special Writing Prompts,” including prompts for Black History Month, bullying awareness, songwriting, and ESL-writing topics. You can find other writing-based activities, including prompts based on grade level and developmental stage on their website.
  • Journaling also improves reading, writing, and communication skills for kids. This Very Well Family article discusses different types of at-home journaling techniques that may work best for children.
  • And lastly, Sesame Street offers a short activity to help begin the journey of journaling. You can find the “The My Feelings Journal” activity and printables here

Finding a journal-style that works best is an individual journey. These resources offer a few tips for beginning to learn a new outlet for expression. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and a new journey of self-discovery and understanding may begin with a few moments of writing! 

This post was written by members of the MFLN Family Development Team. The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.

Learn more about us at https://militaryfamilieslearningnetwork.org/family-development, and connect with us on Facebook, and on Twitter.  Subscribe to our Anchored. podcast series on iTunes and via our podcast page.