Journaling Your Way Through Cancer
"Journaling helps you remember how strong you truly are within yourself.” – Asad Meah
Navigating your cancer journey as a patient or a caregiver is tough.
If you don't properly process the emotions that come with your cancer journey—many parts of your life can be impacted.
It’s important to remember, everyone's cancer journey is unique.
Maybe the diagnosis was all of a sudden. Or maybe the diagnosis was something you had warning signs of early on.
No matter what your journey with cancer looks like—finding healthy outlets to cope with the overwhelm is crucial.
Journaling for cancer patients and caregivers is an excellent way to cope with overwhelming thoughts.
Whether you're going through your own cancer journey, or helping a loved one navigate theirs, gratitude journaling can help you.
Here are some ways journaling can benefit you on your cancer journey:
Gratitude Journaling Helps Improve Memory
As a cancer patient, many suffer from chemobrain or chemo fatigue.
Managing chemo fatigue can be complex, but journaling is a great way to help cope with it. A common side effect of chemobrain is forgetting things more than usual.
This could be as simple as going to the grocery store and forgetting what's on your list. Or it could be not being able to fully recollect what happened at a specific event.
By journaling about your days you're helping store memories that you may otherwise forget, due to treatment.
When we think about capturing memories, the first thought that comes to mind is snapping a photo. And while this is important, the value of writing something down should not go overlooked.
While a photo will help you remember the moment, writing it down will help you remember how you felt in that moment.
By writing about different memories, and expressing gratitude for them, your recollection of those events strengthens.
Gratitude Journaling Helps Strengthen Relationships
Oftentimes, we go through the motions of life without taking time to reflect on what's happening. The reality is, the little things that happen to us on a regular basis, may not actually be so little.
This is especially true when navigating your cancer journey. When you take time to write down what happens, it gives you time to reflect on subconscious thoughts.
Maybe after journaling you realize you didn't actually like the way one of your family members was treating you. Or maybe you're able to recognize you behave a certain way when faced with specific triggers.
By writing down our experiences we're able to reflect on our relationships, and show up as the best version of ourselves. It also gives us a place to practice gratitude for the things in our life that are going right.
Gratitude Journaling Helps Release Stress and Overwhelm
Life is overwhelming—especially when dealing with cancer.
Cycling through a variety of different emotions becomes normal.
Maybe you're overwhelmed with all the emotions that come with being a caregiver for a cancer patient. Or maybe you're the actual cancer patient and the uncertainty of the future is crippling.
It's only inevitable that these emotions are heavy to carry. Having a safe and healthy outlet to process these emotions is key.
Writing down these thoughts can help you release them. Journaling the variety of emotions you feel—from happy, to sad, to overwhelmed—helps you recognize the range of emotions you go through.
This helps you better understand yourself and how you process thoughts. It also helps you remember the hard times won't last forever.
You can also gratitude journal. You can write down whatever you're grateful for—big or small—and see how this shifts your perspective overtime.
Sometimes recognizing how even the smallest of moments are a blessing, can help you get through the hard days.
Tips on Getting Started with Journaling
When deciding to start journaling, the key is to not let it overwhelm you. You want to be able to stay consistent to get the most out of the experience.
1. Start small
Do you think gratitude journaling will take up too much time? Then start small.
Set aside 5 minutes everyday to write a short reflection on your day. Even if it's just one sentence.
Starting off small will help you build up to gradually spending more time journaling and reflecting.
Take a moment to think about all the time you spend mindlessly scrolling on social media. Replace 5 of those minutes with journaling, and watch how things change for you overtime.
Building up the habit of consistently journaling can have a great impact on your life overtime.
2. Write down what you're truly feeling
Sometimes we're deterred from journaling because we're afraid we'll be too negative.
But this shouldn't scare you—this is the exact reason you should journal.
You should write down exactly what you're feeling—and don't sugarcoat things if you don't want to. Journaling is a great way to be honest with yourself about your emotions.
It's an unbiased place where you can express your thoughts. By expressing them through writing, you're less likely to let these emotions project into other parts of your life.
3. Be consistent
A big part of staying consistent when journaling, comes down to how you choose to journal.
If you prefer to handwrite things, use a paper journal. If handwriting isn't your thing—then explore different apps or even the "Notes" section of your phone.
Use the journaling method that is easiest for you, and that will incentivize you to stay consistent.
Building a habit can take a little bit of time, but once you learn to stay consistent the impacts of journaling on your mind can be profound.
It's also helpful to set reminders for yourself so you remember to journal.
Your reminder could be placing your journal on your bed, so you remember to write before going to bed. Or setting an alarm for every evening, so you remember to visit the app on your phone.
If you have a friend who also wants to start journaling, try holding each other accountable. This way, you have an accountability buddy to help you stay on track.
When done consistently, journaling has the power to transform your mindset—especially as a cancer patient or caregiver.
Journaling helps you express gratitude for even the small things in life. It also helps you process difficult emotions in a healthy manner.
Let us know some of your tips for gratitude journaling in the comments below.