Can Keeping a Journal Can Help You Feel Better?
When you think about
keeping a journal to help with your diabetes, writing down lots of numbers
probably comes to mind. And that’s a good idea. Writing down your A1C numbers,
your daily blood sugar numbers, your food intake, your exercise patterns and
your symptoms gives you a good perspective on what’s going on with your diabetes
over a period of time. It can help you to see
exactly how your food and exercise choices directly affect your blood sugar,
which in turn gives you a sense of control over your condition.
Keeping track of your
numbers can also be invaluable because sometimes, your body changes even though
you haven’t changed your routines. If the numbers in your journal begin to
change, that gives you an early signal to talk with your doctor about what else
you might need to do to keep your blood sugar under control, such as starting
medication or modifying your food plan.
Writing about emotions
may also help
But there’s also some
indication that writing about your emotions—especially about stressful
events—can help with your diabetes. Some people find it therapeutic to write
about their feelings, to put their wishes, hopes and fears down on paper. It
gives them insight into what’s really going on. And sometimes, when you allow
your thoughts to tumble out freely, you may find that you’ve been having
feelings that you hadn’t acknowledged until now. That can be beneficial, because
you can’t begin to handle your feelings if you don’t know they exist.
Several years ago, in the
Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers published a
study about people with mild to moderate asthma and rheumatoid arthritis who
wrote about stressful life experiences. After four months, the patients with
asthma experienced an improvement in lung function compared to a control group
of patients who did not take part in the writing and showed no improvement at
all. The study participants who had rheumatoid arthritis experienced a reduction
in the severity of their disease, while the control group experienced no change.
The researchers in the
study did acknowledge that they weren’t sure whether this type of writing would
help people with other chronic conditions. But there’s no reason not to give it
a try if it interests you.
How should you start?
The beauty of journal
writing is that there are no rules. You can write whatever comes into your mind,
without worrying about how it will sound. You can choose a time of day that
works best for you. You can write with a pen and paper or you can type.
If you’re interested in
getting some help from a book, try The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, or
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, by Natalie Goldberg.
These books can give you sound advice about how to write about your emotions and
Journal of the American Medical Association, 1999.