Woman sitting at a table writing in a journal

Five Ways Journaling Helps Me Cope with Psoriatic Arthritis

I used to stay away from journaling. I always thought I was too long-winded in my thoughts and words to try penning them down on paper. Even when I tried to, it would be a 30-minute affair--mostly because I was journaling about my entire day. I’m sure right now you’re thinking to yourself, "This story isn't going the way I expected from the title." Oh, it will; right now.

Anne Frank famously wrote, “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

Now I understand how profound her reflection was and how it has resonated with both writers and journal enthusiasts alike. I remember deciding to give journaling another shot when I couldn't find anyone to turn to in my loneliness and borderline depression from psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Speaking with a few friends and doing a bit of research on this area, I came up with a better game plan to make sure it would help me this time.

Keeping a journal with psoriatic arthritis

These are my 5 tips for effective, outcome-oriented journaling that works wonderfully for me today and it might help you too.

Write regularly and on time

The best time for me has proven to be after dinner. Apart from being close to the end of the day, I’m usually satisfied, at peace and in a good disposition to reflect without a growling tummy to distract me. Without this schedule to guide my journaling, I would’ve procrastinated on most days and probably never stuck with my effort.

Setting up boundaries on this precious 5 to 10 minutes of your time will make all the difference, too. This could mean letting your family members know (if it helps) that you’d like to be undisturbed for this short while.

Start short

This was a huge win for me. I was advised to limit each entry to one paragraph only, forcing me to be concise with my words and to focus solely on a few key areas. When writing in my journal, I would ask myself: How did my psoriatic arthritis make me feel today? Were there any significant moments at home or in public that led to this feeling? What am I contented with today? Feel free to write whatever you want.

Always end with an uplifting note to yourself

Building on the last question I shared from the tip above, choosing to open your eyes and accepting grace is an important step towards changing your mindset. There will always be a silver lining, even if you can't see it now.

Name your emotions

I can’t say this enough, be courageous. This is not a name and shame exercise. It’s supposed to help you gain a keener sense of self-awareness. When you can identify what you’re experiencing, such as envy, embarrassment or even gratitude; you’ll be able to find out how to manage them or amplify them.

Don’t stress over looks

By this, I mean the way your journal looks. If decorating the pages isn't your style, don't do it. You don't have to worry about whether it’s agreeable pleasing to look at. That’s the bottom line of your journey as a warrior, anyway, not worrying about the way you look or how other people see you.

Sharing can help lighten the load

Over time, if you’d like to challenge yourself, you can share your journey with other people like I’ve done and unlock how healing sharing and being vulnerable with and for others can be. I have shared things I haven’t spoken about in 40 years! Letting go of shame and the feeling that everything was my fault helped me to breathe. It has opened a lot of doors for me.

Do you keep a journal to help manage your feelings about psoriatic arthritis? Share your experience in the comments below.

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