According to various sources journaling has been proven to help manage anxiety, reduce stress, and help cope with depression. Knowing the positive outcomes to journaling, Precious Dreams Foundation holds a journaling-based Comfort Drop for the older youths we serve.
This week we held a Comfort Drop in Brooklyn where we taught 18 girls (ages 12-19) the importance of journaling and all of its benefits. We provided each girl with their own unique journal and gave them this prompt: “Dear (their name), Tomorrow is a chance to……”
With this prompt, they were to come up with items to do tomorrow and then the following day cross out the word tomorrow and change it to today, so they could start completing tasks. We encouraged the girls to write in tasks that were small like; “Tomorrow is a chance to clean my room” or larger goals such as; “Tomorrow is a chance to reconcile with my father.”
After taking a lap around the room twice, I noticed one little girl in particular was having a difficult time coming up with goals/tasks for her journal. I sat with her and all she had written so far was one of the examples we had given out in explaining the prompt; “Tomorrow is a chance not to be lazy.” I had asked her what problems and stressors she had in her life.
Her response was “Not a lot really. Just my little brother bothers me and then I get annoyed and tell on him. Then my mom gets mad at me instead of him.”
I asked her “Well why does your little brother annoy you? What does he do that’s annoying?”
“He always messes with my stuff and just overall bothers me.”
“Maybe if you talk to him and ask him why he bothers you, you guys can figure it out.”
She replied, “He has a learning disability and can’t talk very well, that’s why my mom always gets mad at me instead of him.”
At first, I was sort of stumped, none of my close family nor friends have a learning disability in which it’s hard to understand them. I was grasping at a connection for a minute, then I turned to her and said “When I was little, I’d bother my older brothers all the time. I bothered them because I wanted to hang out and play with them, but since they were older than me they just thought I was annoying too. Maybe since your brother has trouble speaking he can’t really tell you how he feels.”
“I never really thought of it that way.” And before I knew it her she had started scribbling away in her journal. I got up to check on other girls’ writings then made my way back to her.
She had shown me her journal and it read: “Tomorrow is a chance to not get mad when my brother annoys me, instead play with him and try to understand him better.” “Tomorrow is a chance to help my mom more with my brother and stop getting mad at her too.” She said, “I don’t like getting frustrated with my brother and mom, so I want to try these tomorrow!”
The sheer excitement and determination in her voice made my heart melt. I was so happy that she was going to commit to her tasks for tomorrow and that she was able to resolve conflicts in her life through journaling.