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Why do we always try to avoid being sad or find ways to run away from this sadness? Did you know sitting with sadness is actually the key to processing our emotions? But what does that even mean? And how do we sit with our sadness? Sitting with sadness does not always have to end with a negative outcome, one of the most effective ways of processing our sadness is through journal writing.

Many people are reluctant to writing in a journal as it may take them back to their teenage ‘dear diary’ mindset. But there is a reason why our younger self may have written in a diary, for the idea of exploring and understanding ourselves and also to vent out all of our issues. So why do we not continue this? Who said that you have to stop writing your feelings now and move into the adult world?

Journal writing can be one of the most helpful ways for us to process our emotions. Sometimes, the words just pour out like a tap and just flow, and we could write for days fighting to write fast enough as the words dribble out. Other times we will need to work a little harder to pinpoint the pain and release it from our mind, body and soul.

Here is a list of prompts to get your mind thinking about how you are feeling

  1. Write from the viewpoint of sadness, you are sadness, what do you want to say or tell others
  2. Describe the physical sensations you are feeling, do you feel any tension? how does your head, stomach or chest feel? how is your breathing?
  3. Describe sadness as though it were someone else. What does sadness say? Or look like? What does its voice sound like? when does sadness come around?
  4. Write about your soul and how it feels or how sadness fits there.
  5. Describe your sadness by finishing these statements, which come from the book Writing for Emotional Balance: A Guided Journal to Help You Manage Overwhelming Emotions: “If this feeling was a colour, it would be ______. If this feeling was weather, it would be ______. If this feeling was a landscape, it would be ______. If this feeling was music, it would sound like______. If this feeling was an object, it would be______.”
  6. Or you could simply start with I am sad… I feel sad when… it hurts…

Making a routine of journal writing is time never wasted. Spending 10 minutes each night can have an enormous benefit on our mental health, as we are simply reflecting on our day to day emotions and learning to sit with whatever we feel. Starting off smaller may make things a little easier at first. You could start with 5 minutes and gradually increase and write for as longs as you wish. Always allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling, with no self-judgment. And give yourself permission to sit with whatever you bring forward.

Stef Gafa’ is a counsellor with Willingness who has a particular interest in trauma, attachment, domestic violence and the LGBT community.

References:

Jacobs, B. (2004). Writing for emotional balance: A guided journal to help you manage overwhelming emotions. California: New Harbinger.