If you have a brain injury or are a family caregiver, you know that your life encompasses much more than caregiving and TBI. It’s important to make your life as well-rounded as you can. If you journal (and I hope you do!), you know that inspiration for your writing can come from anywhere. You’re much more than a caregiver for a person with a brain injury or TBI.. But when you need a jumpstart, you can try these three methods for fun and enlightening writing sessions. They will spark creativity, open up your heart, and provide a look into your life. You’ll need to do a little prep work, which can also be fun, but then you’ll be set for many journaling sessions, alone or in a group.
Learn how journaling after a brain injury can help survivors, caregivers and family members cope with the many changes and challenges in their lives.
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Whether you’re living with your own brain injury or are a family caregiver, you can benefit from writing your thoughts and feelings for just a few minutes a couple of times a week. It helps to have some good techniques available both to help you start a writing session and to broaden your journaling practice to make it more satisfying and productive. Some of these techniques are the Unsent Letter, Perspectives, Captured Moment, and Dialogue.
After a brain injury to yourself or a loved one, you can begin journaling by simply writing your thoughts and feelings on paper or screen (or by speaking them into a recording device). But if you want or need more structure and ways to stay focused, some easy-to-learn techniques can make your journaling practice deeper, more satisfying, and healing. Among these techniques are the 5-Minute Sprint, Topics du Jour, and Lists of 100, all of which can help you to discover how to better manage your post-brain injury life.
Learning to tell the story of our life after a brain injury, either as a survivor or a family caregiver, is a powerful method of exploring what we now believe to be true about ourselves and our lives. Our brains naturally perceive through story, and we live according to the stories we believe to be true. Most of this happens without our awareness, but by journaling we can consciously explore our beliefs and choose to release those that no longer serve us in positive ways. And when our pre-injury story no longer holds true, we can use journaling to create a new one that acknowledges our new reality and builds upon it.
Journaling after brain injury can help both survivors and family caregivers. If you haven’t journaled before, it helps to know that there are no rules to follow (except perhaps to date all your entries) and that you can adapt the process to suit yourself and your abilities. This includes the way you journal. You can write by hand in a journal or notebook. You can type into a computer file, or use voice-recognition software to speak your journal entries. And if none of these methods are available to you, you can ask a trusted person to scribe your words without changing them or making any judgments. There are some tips that can help you make the most of your journaling practice. All you have to do is give yourself permission to write.
The practice of journaling can help people with brain injury and family caregivers by offering stress relief, respite, self-empowerment, and possibly even some health benefits. In more than 200 controlled studies done since the mid-1980s, “expressive writing” about deep feelings and thoughts has been demonstrated to offer significant benefits for body, mind, and spirit. Most of the studies asked participants from diverse groups to write about a traumatic event, although a few asked them to write about a positive event or theme. Regardless of the subject, the results tended to be beneficial for large numbers of participants, even though the total writing time over several sessions was usually less than 90 minutes.
After a brain injury, survivors and family caregivers alike can use journaling to find some measure of peace, acceptance, clarity, and healing. The simple act of writing down their thoughts and feelings in a private journal can become a therapeutic tool that fosters self-empowerment. Journals are as unique as the people who keep them and can contain anything: events, dreams, lists, poems, quotes, art work, memories, celebrations, rants, and much more. In recording these things, people become their own compassionate listener—something that’s very important after the traumatic experience of a brain injury to oneself or a loved one. People in therapy can certainly keep a journal (many therapists now ask their clients to do this), but so can those who are not. In fact, keeping a journal is much like having a therapist—and it’s a lot cheaper!