Study Buddy (Explorer): How to reduce stress and process your emotions through journaling

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  • Check your reading comprehension using the questions below or in the linked Kahoot! game
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Journaling has many benefits for your mental and physical health

Content provided by the British Council

Read the following text and answer questions 1-9 below:

[1] Look no further than a notebook, a pen and a commitment to keeping a journal. Journaling is the practice of regularly keeping a personal record of one’s experiences, feelings and reflections. It has been proven to deliver significant mental and physical health benefits through creating emotional awareness, generating mindfulness and reducing stress.

[2] “Writing is a powerful tool to process our emotions and make sense of them,” says Meeta Gupta Hari, a mental health counsellor at Lifespan Counselling in Hong Kong. “It can be a massive help to process difficult events and create a narrative about them. This raises our self-awareness and enables us to detect unhealthy patterns in our thoughts and behaviours.”

[3] When you journal, you can express suppressed emotions, or understand a traumatic experience. This can help release blocked energy. “It is important that we process these emotions. When we do this, our brains are freed from continuously processing a disturbing experience, resulting in lower stress levels, better sleep and health,” says Hari.

[4] So how do you start and what should you write about? In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron recommends a process she calls “the morning pages”. This is a morning ritual of writing three pages in longhand, in a stream of consciousness. “The pages are meant to be, simply, the act of writing down whatever comes to mind. Nothing is too silly, too weird to be included.”

[5] Cameron writes that by doing this, we learn to evade our inner critic – the insecurities that may cause us to criticise and doubt our abilities. There is no wrong way to write the morning pages, so the critic’s opinion doesn’t count. The ritual teaches you to stop listening to that ridicule, and it can lead to a strong, clear sense of self.

[6] Neelam Daswani, a health coach in Hong Kong, has been practising “the morning pages” ritual for more than a year. “Writing has enabled me to create space between my thoughts and my actions. It has made me more self-aware and allowed me to become my own coach,” says 46-year-old Daswani, who changed her unhealthy eating habits as a result. “Through journaling, I realised that I was binge eating at the times of the day that I felt vulnerable and stressed or exhausted. This awareness allowed me to break the pattern and make healthier choices.”

[7] Johannes Pong, a Hong Kong-based writer and healer, has been journaling for the past 13 years. “Journaling has taught me that we often don’t know the deep-seated traumas or baggage we may be carrying till we start writing our thoughts. But the good news is that you don’t have to be a writer to write a journal,” says Pong. Journaling helped him deal with deep-rooted, hidden resentment and anger. It also led him to become a healer.

[8] Why does this simple act of putting pen to paper offer so much opportunity for personal growth, awareness and healing? Reflective journaling helps us examine our lives and gain new understanding. We can discover what matters most to us, while expressing ourselves in a creative way.

Source: South China Morning Post; September 12

Questions

Play a Kahoot! game about this story as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:

1. According to paragraph 1, what three things are needed to start a journal? (3 marks)

2. According to Meeta Gupta Hari in paragraph 2, what can journaling help us find out about our thoughts and behaviours?

3. What can’t you write about in “the morning pages” according to paragraph 4?
A. unpleasant thoughts
B. the first thing that comes to mind
C. silly or weird events
D. none of the above

4. According to paragraph 4, how many pages does Cameron recommend writing every day?

5. Find a word in paragraph 5 that means “to escape from somebody or something”.

6. How did journaling help Neelam Daswani according to paragraph 6?
A. It helped her sleep better and eat more.
B. It helped her overcome depression and grief by eating healthily.
C. It helped her recognise how her emotions affected her eating patterns.
D. It helped her stop eating junk food altogether.

7. Read paragraphs 6 and 7 to decide whether the following statements are True, False or Not Given in the text. (4 marks)
(i) Johannes Pong thinks you need to write well to keep a journal.
(ii) Johannes Pong became a healer after he started journaling.
(iii) Neelam Deswani sometimes struggles to complete “the morning pages” ritual.
(iv) Neelam Deswani thinks journaling has helped her to better understand herself.

8. What do the words “deep-seated” and “deep-rooted” in paragraph 7 refer to?
A. sad emotions one feels while lying down
B. complex emotions that one has had for a long time
C. peaceful emotions one feels in nature
D. aggressive, violent emotions teenagers feel

9. Which of the following is NOT given as an example of journaling in the article?
A. sharing your feelings in a blog
B. keeping a record of your feelings in a notebook
C. writing any random thoughts that come into your head
D. writing three pages of whatever you like in the mornings

Answers

1. a notebook; a pen; commitment
2. unhealthy patterns
3. D
4. three pages
5. evade
6. C
7. (i) F; (ii) T; (iii) NG; (iv) T
8. B
9. A

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