7 Things We Know For Sure About Homeschooling

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Nostrum minus ea suscipit porro alias corporis libero at. Perferendis omnis, veniam nemo beatae vel? Tempora numquam a repellat eaque natus, magnam?

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Please share with the parents in your life! We need each other.

This article and podcast is a beautiful collaboration between Journaling.com and ProjectHappiness.com. A gift from the founders of Homeschool.com and Laurel Springs School (LaurelSprings.com), this positive and encouraging article and 1-hour podcast was created to help parents homeschool their children during Covid-19.

Project Happiness described the podcast as: “Rebecca and Marilyn remind us all that education is about bonding, joy, growth and a positive mindset. In an environment where so many fear that children will “fall behind,” this is the voice of reassurance and comfort that all is well, and that homeschooling can be the best opportunity to grow closer, reactivate our priorities, and move forward with joy. I am so grateful that such a podcast exists and that its timeless wisdom is here to help generations to come. To be able to visit with two humans who not only walk the talk, but actually invented this genre of education is an inspiring and timely gift.”

Journaling.com · This We Know For Sure About Homeschooling


7 Things We Know For Sure About Homeschooling

Advice from the Founders of Homeschool.com & Laurel Springs School

1: Your Priority Now and Forever is… Bonding, Joy, Growth

You may naturally be thinking that the priority is lesson plans and scheduling. BUT, we believe that the priority right now and forever is… family bonding, joy, and growth. Bonding is incredibly important. It is foundational to our children. Research has shown that deepening the bond with your child enhances well-being, self esteem, the ability to learn, and compassion for others (human and animals). Bonding teaches children to trust, empathize and communicate. This time you have together homeschooling is precious because it allows you to do more bonding.

Joy reduces stress and offers the ability to learn in new and wonderful ways. What happens when your child’s brain is stressed? Stress hormones end up swamping their bodies and increasing adrenaline and cortisol, which affects long term focus and fortitude.

When families first start homeschooling, sometimes parents can feel a lot of pressure to do it “perfectly.” But of course there is no perfect. Perfect is an illusion. We suggest that the priority right now is not “perfect”, it‘s “growth.”And in order for a child to grow, they need to feel safe. So it may take time for some children to rebalance and get used to this new learning culture. It’s perfectly fine to give them that time.

Here are 3 questions for you to ask yourself to make this experience even richer.

Q: How are you feeling about your homeschooling?
Q: Is there anything you want to do to make it more joyful?
Q: What are some ways you will know that your children are growing from this experience?

2: “We’re mediocre today, hurray!” The Importance of Positivity & Gratitude

Some days, mediocre is really good. You show up and you do the best you can. And you celebrate that. Mindset is how we feel about a situation. And the powerful thing is, most of the time, we can decide ahead of time how we are going to feel. For example, you may not have had the choice whether or not to homeschool your children, but you DO have the choice about how you are going to feel about it. In the midst of so much uncertainty, we can enjoy this unexpected gift of time with our children. Some days you feel like a rockstar and other days you will feel like a total failure. Some days your children will be on fire and will get so much done. Other days you may need to take a break and just play. You can’t do it wrong. Children are biologically built to learn. So have fun with this, play with this, relax into this. This time with your children may become one of the highlights, one of the best memories, of your life.

Q: Imagine your family five years from now, looking back on this time, what do YOU want to remember most?
Q: What would you like your children to remember?
Q: What are some things you enjoy doing with your children?

3: Teach to THEIR Learning Style

The next big idea we want to share with you is that each of your children has their own unique learning style. This is a revolutionary idea because when the teaching style matches your child’s learning style, learning just takes off and their special talents and interests are revealed. You have probably heard of these – auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Auditory learners learn best when they can hear the information, visual learners learn best when they can see the information, and kinesthetic or hand-on learners learn best when they get to touch or build things. Rebecca has three children and they each have a different learning style. Her son is an auditory learner. He loves audiobooks and learns best when he can hear a lesson and talk about it. Her youngest child is a visual learner. She likes reading things and using workbooks. Her middle child is a kinesthetic learner. She is moving all the time and likes to build and create things with her hands. She is also the athlete of the family.

Here’s the tricky part. Rebecca is an auditory learner so her son and she are in sync. She teaches by talking and he learns by hearing. So that works out really well. But what about her visual learner and her kinesthetic learner? It’s normal for us to teach in the way that WE learn best. But that may not be how THEY learn best. So what can we do? At its core, learning styles are about caring for others. It’s about having compassion for how your child learns.

Let’s also talk about a child’s learning environment. During this unique time you can support them to discover not only HOW they learn best, but WHERE they learn best. Some children enjoy sitting at a table or desk, others like sitting on the floor or working on their bed with their dog by their side. Your child may enjoy a quiet room, or having background noise or music. Some children are morning learners and others need time to wake and orient themselves to the day. Some children do better when they have pens, pencils and a notebook that reflects their favorite color.

This is also a wonderful time to understand and support your child’s innate talents; such as music, math, movement, interpersonal communication, mechanics, humor, and animals. We all have talents that are unique and this is a perfect time to include those talents into their learning experience. Taking apart a computer, having a meaningful conversation, dancing, making jokes, doing art projects, cooking, caring for animals, and journaling are fantastic ways of incorporating talents into your child’s daily life. This is learning, and might end up being some of the most important learning they will do.

Here are four questions to help you make the most of this information.

Q: Are you an auditory, visual or kinesthetic learner?
Q: What learning styles are your children?
Q: What learning personality are your children drawn to? How do they like to show their learning: by building something or performing, by thinking deeply and telling you all about it, by talking, inventing, drawing, or completing workbook, textbook or online assignments?
Q: How can you adapt your teaching to match their learning style?

4: Children Support What They Help Create

The idea that “people support what they help create” is based in the understanding that if I am part of a situation or project then I’m going to do my best to make it successful. It’s human nature. You see, there is a part of us that wants to help. Studies show that when presented with another person’s problem, it is natural to try and solve it. No matter what the outcome is, just being part of the process feels powerful.

Start by sharing an observation. “I notice that you two seem to be arguing and fightIng more than normal. Have you noticed that too? Why do you think that is?”

As parents, our natural tendency may be to jump in and tell our children what to do (and sometimes we need to). Unfortunately, that doesn’t always solve the problem and puts us on opposite teams. The fighting may stop for a moment, but it comes back later. By compassionately sharing your observation, you have stepped out of the problem and shined a light on a challenge that THEY seem to be having. By stepping back a bit, you can help facilitate creative solutions.

Listening and working as a team is good for solving problems AND for creating dreams. We used to ask each of our children, “What is your #1 goal?” Then we made ourselves really listen to their answers. We weren’t allowed to downsize their goal or protect them by telling them that their goal might not be realistic. When Rebecca’s son said that his #1 goal was to learn how to drive every kind of boat, that became the #1 priority, as important as reading, math or science. You take your child’s goal seriously and you figure it out. Usually it’s not the goal that is important. Its you listening to them that really matters. And it’s who they become as a person as he or she works on that goal. They are building grit by discovering new ways to accomplish their goals.

Q: What is your child’s #1 goal right now? (Try to ask each of your children.)
Q: How can you help them achieve their goals?
Q: What is your #1 goal and what can you do to make progress on it?

5: It’s Time to Journal

When people try a new thing, like homeschooling, emotions come up. Journaling helps you release those feelings in a healthy way so that you and your family can move forward with less friction, more ease, and more joy. One of the most exciting methods of journaling is called “expressive writing.” Did you know that if you journal before a surgery or medical procedure, you will heal faster than people who don’t journal? This is powerful. Expressive Writing is also scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety, and it improves relationships and even children’s test scores. The best news is that it’s fast and easy to do.

All you have to do is: pick a topic (like homeschooling or something that is challenging you), and write down what you are feeling about it. Let it all out. By slowing down and shining a light on your feelings, you release them. Otherwise, fears, judgments and doubts burrow in behind-the-scenes and without you knowing it, they can negatively affect how you see and experience the world around you. Expressive Writing is a game changer. If you are having any stresses, fears, or worries about your homeschooling, get it out of your system by writing it down. This helps you to feel better and also gives you clarity and a fresh perspective. As time goes by and new “stuff” comes up, you can do expressive writing on those topics too.

Journaling is worth your time. Especially during busy and stressful times, the pay off is big. It puts you in a flow state and when you are in a flow state you get more done because you are experiencing less “friction.” You’re happier and you feel lighter about life. And because YOU are happier, the people around you become happier too.

Here are three questions to ask yourself.

Q: If you were to create a Bullet Journal, what types of things would you keep track of? Would it help you to have a daily to-do list?
Q: If you made a family Nature Journal, what would you put in it?
Q: If you were to do some Expressive Writing, what would you write about?

6: They Will Not Fall Behind

We recently participated in a webinar for Project Happiness that focused on “homeschooling during Covid-19.” There were about 300 participants in the live webinar and they came from around the world, all schooling their children at home. These parents live in different countries but had one thing in common: they were all afraid that their children were going to fall behind and they worried that it might be their fault and that they “were not doing enough.”

This is a common fear. So let’s talk for a moment about what parents really fear when they think about their children falling ”behind.” Usually this means “behind their peers“ or ”behind grade level”. The first words of comfort we want to give you is that most people in the world are in the same situation as you. Schools are already planning on how they are going to adjust the curriculum to make up for this time. They know that when the students return there are going to be gaps that need to be filled.

And what if your children aren’t “behind” because of this experience? What if they end up “advanced” because of it? For example:

* Since they have been spending more time with adults, their vocabulary has probably improved a great deal.
* They may have uncovered a special talent like art, music, cooking, a foreign language, or nature.
* Perhaps, because of homeschooling, you have discovered that you have a child with a learning challenge in reading or math or in a particular subject area. This will advance your child because now that you know about it, you can find someone to help you with it.

Remember to be good to yourself, focus on the positive, and take time to celebrate all the ways your children and you are learning and growing.

Q: If you were going to put together a learning portfolio for your child, what subjects would you put in it?
Q: Can you think of a couple of goals, that if accomplished, would be a huge comfort to you?
Q: Do you think your child may have a learning challenge? What have you noticed? Who do you think can help you with this?
Q: Can you think of some fun ways you can keep the learning going this summer?

7: “Life is a Marathon…”

In the beginning, the quarantine and the homeschooling that came with it, required a lot of “sprints”. We had to quickly reorganize our schedules and quickly learn new technologies. The level of adapting that we have done is impressive.

But now that the quarantine has gone from a sprint to a marathon, you may be noticing some areas in your life where you need to make some adjustments. Normally, when we think of balance we think of three areas of self-care: physical, mental, and emotional or spiritual. If we get out of balance in any of these areas the enjoyment of life is diminished.

Do you need to get better at asking for help? The best way to do this is to use “I” statements, rather than blaming or complaining. You will get a better response if you start with, “I have something I would like to talk about. I have been noticing that I am doing most of the house work. I really need some help. That would help me a lot.”

This idea of rebalancing and recognizing that life is a marathon applies to homeschooling too. Rebecca’s oldest daughter feels that she is watching too much TV and she has decided to do more exercise, more learning, and more gratitude. She has made a monthly calendar for herself and every day she writes a G if she took time that day to list out what she is grateful for, an E if she exercised, and an L if she did something that counts as learning, like watching a TedTalk or reading a non-fiction book.

Living mindfully and knowing when we are in balance (and out of balance) makes all the difference and is one of the wisest things we can do.

Thank you for letting us share our thoughts with you. Homeschooling was one of the highlights of our life and we want so much for you to enjoy it too.

Be good to yourself and remember these seven things:

#1. Yes, the academics are important, but equally important is family bonding, personal growth, and daily joy.
#2. The mindset you bring to your homeschooling makes a big difference. So try to “catch them being good” whenever possible.
#3. If you can, try to match your teaching style to their learning style – visual, auditory, or hands-on (kinesthetic).
#4. When you need to make a change or set boundaries, remember that kids support what they help create.
#5. This is a good time to do photo journaling, therapeutic journaling, art journaling and bullet journaling.
#6. You may worry that you are not doing enough and that your children are going to fall behind. Try to relax as much as you can. Children are natural learners.
#7. After you have been homeschooling for awhile, check to make sure you are in balance. Take good care of yourself.

Here are two questions to think about.

Q: Are there any areas where you feel you need to rebalance?
Q: What are some things you can do to take good care of yourself?

About the Authors

MARILYN MOSLEY GORDANIER is the Founder of Laurel Springs School, the first online K-12 school in the United States. She has worked with thousands of home-learning families and is considered to be one of the foremost experts in distance learning. Marilyn is an advocate for education worldwide and co-founded Educate Girls Now (educategirlsnow.org) to raise awareness of the dire conditions of Afghanistan girls and to ensure they receive an education and are not forced into early marriage

Marilyn can be reached at Marilyn.Mosley@gmail.com


REBECCA KOCHENDERFER is co-founder of Homeschool.com, the #1 homeschooling site on the Internet. She is the author of several books including: Homeschooling for Success, Joyful Homeschooling, The Summertime Survival Guide for Parents, Homeschooling & Loving It, Joy Journal, and 30 Days of Joy. Rebecca currently serves as Founder and Host of Journaling.com.

Rebecca can be reached at Rebecca@Journaling.com

A Hug from the Universe: A Reflective Journaling Exercise, with Lori Ann Roth

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Nostrum minus ea suscipit porro alias corporis libero at. Perferendis omnis, veniam nemo beatae vel? Tempora numquam a repellat eaque natus, magnam?

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Suddenly, I felt a wave of peace and love surrounding me. It was as if I was receiving a giant hug from the entire universe. The feeling was of immense joy and love going into me, around me, and through me. I started to cry because the love was overwhelming.  “Thank you, thank you” was all that I could say as the tears streamed down my face. The gratitude I was experiencing was so large, the entire world, sky, and universe was involved.  I realized that I am not alone. Someone, something loves me; loves me so much. I had never experienced that kind of love, peace or joy before in my life. When it went away, I felt so much calm. I was very relaxed but energized and joyous. I felt lighter and part of the world.

Some say it is God; maybe a spiritual presence. Others say that it is my body accessing parts of the brain that produce these types of sensations. I just know that the emotion was beyond wonderful and I categorized it as a gift. I didn’t have that experience for another 7 years. I chocked it up as an anomaly. Then it happened again during similar circumstances. I wondered if I could re-create that emotion/feeling anytime I was feeling down and needed a giant hug from the universe. So, I started to find what was similar about both times.

That first instance happened when I was writing in my journal on my deck in Virginia; I was 48 years old. Journaling is a habit for me – ok, not a habit but a way of life. I journal almost every day. The second time it happened I was 54 and had moved to Florida. I was writing at night because I couldn’t sleep. Both times I was outside, it was quiet, and I was alone. So, I started to experiment with my journal.

I call this new journal the being journal.  Many of us, myself included, are do-ers. We get things done.  Most of us believe this is a great characteristic. I am an achiever! However, I realized that when I was doing, I was not be-ing. Each time I felt the “hug” I was not doing anything.  After much thought and analyzing, I wrote down the process and wish to share it with you. It may work, it may not. It has worked for me, not all of the time, but more often than not.  I can recreate this sensation.

Get Your Hug from the Universe

  1. Choose a place in nature where you will not be disturbed, and it is quiet. I always sit down.
  2. Write down all of your thoughts down.
  3. Write until you have nothing left, until there are no more thoughts.
  4. Put the journal down and take some deep breaths. Breathe in the air and the moment.
  5. Breathe normally and just be. Each time my eyes were open, and I observed the nature around me. 
  6. At this state, you will feel relaxed.
  7. Feel grateful (don’t think here) for all that you see, experience, and sense.
  8. Just be and take in everything.

That’s all there is to it! Then the sensation or the “hug” envelopes me. 

In my experience, this process works best when I don’t overthink it. I have friends who say this is a form of meditation or mindfulness. That is fine with me. Whatever you would like to call the process to create your “hug” is perfectly ok.  Using a journal helps me to get out of my head and into the place of love, gratitude, and joy.  Hopefully, this will work for you. I wish for you to experience this true joy. This hug from the universe. Good luck and let me know if you have any other journaling exercises or experiences that work for you to bring you joy. 

Lori

Clearing Clutter in a Pandemic: Gentle Guidance from Clutter Coach and Journal Therapist Carolyn Koehnline

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Nostrum minus ea suscipit porro alias corporis libero at. Perferendis omnis, veniam nemo beatae vel? Tempora numquam a repellat eaque natus, magnam?

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

What a time we’re living in.

Some of us are on the front lines of this crisis. Some are scrambling to do work in a new way. Maybe you, like many, are finding yourself sequestered at home, with unexpected, unstructured time. If so, you may be thinking, “What a perfect time to clear clutter. Now I can do every unfinished thing on my to-do list.”

Before you put that pressure on yourself and dive into your most overwhelming cluttered areas, here are some thoughts about how to bring gentleness to the process, inviting your journal to be a supportive companion along the way.

Start by Clearing Internal Clutter

Don’t expect yourself to be constantly productive or consistently plucky and optimistic. In a single day, I notice that I can be hopeful, grief-stricken, grateful, angry, and courageous. I can also be both terrified and curious about where all this will take us. We are all recalibrating, taking in new information every day, catching up to changes, losses, restrictions, and unexpected blessings.

Self-judgement is a kind of clutter. It will only get in the way. I encourage you to practice compassion with whatever thoughts and feelings come and go. Reach for people (at a safe distance or within your germ bubble), pets, poems, nature, music, and anything else that calls out your best self and helps you be kinder to yourself. Or reach for your journal and invite it to be the kind listening ear or voice of reassurance that you need. Even taking a few minutes to describe your feelings can help clear some internal clutter and help you feel more able to focus and function.

Identify Doable Projects

These days, we tend to be especially aware that our lives are full of uncertainties. There are so many big events that we can’t control. And one way or another, we’re experiencing limits and losses, big and small. So, not every project is appropriate right now. Some may be too unwieldy and chaotic. Some may leave you too emotionally raw. I encourage you to start with projects that feel calming to work on, can be completed fairly quickly, and will give you some peace of mind to accomplish.

You might want to begin by opening to a fresh page of your journal and listing some possible projects. Even small acts of transformation can be uplifting and help you feel more comfortable in your home. Organize a sock drawer. Clear some emails. Create an emergency kit. Write a letter. Mend some clothes. Fold some laundry. Glue some things that are broken.

Consult Your Hat

If you’re not sure which project to start with, make a list of twelve things it would be helpful to accomplish. Number the list and throw corresponding numbers into a hat. Then draw one randomly. Whatever you pick, that’s the project you work on. When you’ve completed that project, you can declare yourself done for the day, or choose another item from the hat.

This strategy can keep you from overwhelming yourself or spinning your wheels. You are giving yourself permission to do one thing at a time instead of everything at once. What a relief! For fun, you can also throw in other kinds of items.
Read a chapter of my novel. Spend an hour with my watercolors.

Have Regular Dates with Your Journal

Once you’ve accomplished some smaller clutter-clearing projects you may feel you’re ready to take on bigger ones. I strongly suggest you break them down into smaller steps, take breaks, and pace yourself. And plan on regular dates with your journal along the way.

Clearing clutter is a powerful thing to do. Making clear choices about what to keep and what to release from your home, head, heart, and schedule can be a way of bringing order to chaos and saying needed goodbyes to open space for new beginnings. It can give you a feeling of forward movement and empowerment at a time when you might otherwise feel stuck or in limbo. It can also be physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging.

Let your journal be your own private place to make your plans, find clarity when you start to get overwhelmed or confused, express your feelings, and celebrate your victories. Don’t forget to invite it into your process. I have no doubt it will be ready and willing to help you.

Carolyn Koehnline, LMHC, CJT offers coaching and online classes in transitions, clutter clearing, befriending time, and creating a more artful life. Visit www.GentleApproachCoaching.com for more information. You can access her online school, “A Gentle Approach to Clutter” here. And click here for her free monthly newsletter.

This article was adapted from Carolyn’s “Gentle Approach” newsletter, March 2020.

Unleashing the Power of Expressive Writing

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Nostrum minus ea suscipit porro alias corporis libero at. Perferendis omnis, veniam nemo beatae vel? Tempora numquam a repellat eaque natus, magnam?

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

It’s an enormous honor to welcome Dr. James Pennebaker back to our podcast. Affectionately known as the “father of expressive writing,” Dr. Pennebaker is a pioneer in the field of research that examines the profound benefits of expressive writing.  

Dr. Pennbaker is a Regents Centennial Professor of Liberal Arts and Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.He is a social psychologist and the author of hundreds of articles and many books including The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us and Opening Up by Writing It Down.

You can hear our conversation or read highlights of the interview below.


Unleashing the Power of Expressive Writing, with James Pennebaker


On the back of Dr. Pennebaker’s guided journal, Writing to Heal, he observes the power of expressive writing. “The simple act of expressing your thoughts and feelings about emotionally challenging  experiences on paper is proven to speed your recovery and improve your mental and physic health. Expressive writing will leave you with a stronger sense of value in the world and the ability to accept that life can be good even when it is sometimes bad.”

With an evident sense of humor, Dr. Pennebaker tells us about his first experience with expressive writing. Early on in his marriage, tension would sometimes rise. During a rough patch, Dr. Pennebaker retreated into his bedroom where he wrote down his feelings. The whole process took less than 15 minutes. Emerging from his room lighter, he had a fresh perspective he promptly shared with his wife. The act of writing down strong feelings provided much needed clarity and he was surprised by the power of the experience. Although this writing session marked a turning point, it would be several more years before Dr. Pennebaker formally began research on the benefits of expressive writing.

“The simple act of expressing your thoughts and feelings about emotionally challenging  experiences on paper is proven to speed your recovery and improve your mental and physic health. Expressive writing will leave you with a stronger sense of value in the world and the ability to accept that life can be good even when it is sometimes bad.”

The Benefits of Expressive Writing

Dr. Pennebaker’s research spans decades, and many other prominent researchers have followed in his footsteps to prove the benefits of expressive writing. Positive outcomes include:

  • Faster recovery from surgeries
  • Mood regulation
  •  Improved sleep
  • New insight that facilitates effective problem solving

How Expressive Writing Works

Dr. Pennebaker’s approach is pragmatic. He observes that journaling is not magic nor is it a panacea that can cure all of our problems. Rather, he describes it is an action that provides time to stop, pull back, and assess a problem from a different vantage point. “Expressive writing helps us organize our lives and put things together in ways we have not thought about before.” He notes that upheavals no longer appear as significant when we see them on paper.

How to Get Started with Expressive Writing

Dr. Pennebaker reassures us that there is no wrong way to approach expressive writing. For many years, he suggested people write for 3-4 days for 15 minutes at a time about a single issue that needed resolution. Over time, his research shows that similar goals can be accomplished in fewer days for some and that others might need more time. He encourages us to be our own scientist and to figure out what works best and do it.

Tips to get your started:

  • Focus on a single issue that’s bothering you.
  • Write about that one issue for brief stretches of time each day. This is likely to take anywhere from 1-5 days. Stop writing when the issue no longer troubles you.
  • Experiment with a variety of methods. Typing, handwriting, using your non-dominant hand are all worthwhile methods to explore.
  • Avoid the temptation to ruminate. If after five days you are still rehashing the same issue, give yourself permission to try something new like exercise, yoga, or meditation. Expressive writing can only succeed if it’s moving you toward a new way of thinking. This technique is not about dumping all our feelings onto a page. Rather it’s about taking a single issue and growing our understanding of the feelings it brings up so that we can work toward positive change.

Other Therapeutic Forms of Expression

We were curious to know Dr. Pennebaker’s thoughts on other therapeutic forms of expression and wondered how they might work in conjunction with journaling.

Dr. Pennebaker spoke of research done under his guidance by a dance therapist. She wondered if expressive dance might yield similar outcomes as expressive writing. Her dissertation findings were interesting.

She established 3 groups. The first group use expressive movement. The second group used expressive movement and writing. The third group did only exercise. Groups 1 and 2 reported their experiences to be positive, but only members of group 2 reported long-term benefits. Dr. Pennebaker’s student concluded that movement gets us in touch with deeper feelings and experiences and words help us to solidify longer term change. Art therapy works similarly in that someone is given materials to shape as they wish and then has an opportunity to discuss the process and the issues that arose.

Your Action Plan

If you found this conversation helpful, you might also enjoy our conversation with Deborah Ross in which we discuss journaling’s effects on the brain.

Journaling with Kids

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Nostrum minus ea suscipit porro alias corporis libero at. Perferendis omnis, veniam nemo beatae vel? Tempora numquam a repellat eaque natus, magnam?

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

If you journal, you probably already know the reasons a consistent writing practice is helpful. Expressive writing helps us tune into powerful emotions, regulate daily habits, and organize our thoughts. Journaling fuels creativity, productivity, and mindfulness. But even the most avid of journalers might be surprised to discover the ways journaling can help the children in our lives experience the same beneficial outcomes.

My youngest kiddo is nine-years-old and lives with a chronic disease. As we navigate the challenges that this illness delivers, my husband and I try to provide our child with all of the best tools. As parents, we are committed to ensuring he has access to healthy foods, exercise, sunshine, and the medicines he requires. We check in regularly to discuss the emotions that may be welling up inside. For a long time, I felt like we had all the bases covered.

But although I’m a writer and a committed journaler myself, it never crossed my mind that this could be another tool to add to my child’s toolbox. Out of the blue one day, while my mind was on other things, my son asked, “Mom can I get a journal like yours and write in it with you before bedtime?” We’ve been journaling together ever since, and I’m in awe of what a meaningful part of his day it’s become.

When we started, I imagined my child journaling about monthly visits to the hospital or about taking unpleasant medicines.  How surprised I was to see that he filled his pages instead with drawings of the snow that’s fallen, play time with friends, and lines from a book of quotations he finds helpful. (Still quite young, my child shows me the pages of every entry he writes before we turn out the lights. I feel so fortunate!)

In writing with my son, two significant points stand out to me. Initially, I’d provided my son with all kinds of tips to help him make the most of his journaling experience believing he’d use this tool to process his disease. When he showed more interest in drawing pictures of the snowman his dad built him, I was reminded of the inner wisdom that resides in all of us. My son instinctively knows how to use this tool in a way that resonates for him. The second gem I gleaned was the fact that kids are watching us all of the time. They see the ways we care for ourselves (or don’t), and they will mirror our behaviors.

Our nighttime ritual is a simple one. We get in our jammies, grab our journals and special pens, hop into bed, and then we write. Usually ten minutes does the trick for my son, but the amount of time doesn’t matter. It’s the ritual of the act that grounds us. When he tells me he’s finished, my son likes to share what he’s written. I know this won’t always be the case, so I especially treasure this last part of our routine.

Tips to Get Started

If there is a special child in your life who might enjoy journaling,  here are ideas to help get you started.

  • Share your journaling practice. Show the child your journal, the special place you sit to write in it, and tell them about your process. If the child expresses interest, invite them to begin their own journaling practice.
  • Take your child shopping—to a store or online—and find a journal that they feel excited about. Make this event a moment they’ll remember always.
  • If your child is artistic, consider gifting them with an unlined journal with paper that’s durable enough to absorb paints, sketches, and collage work.
  • Journal with your child. Your enthusiasm is contagious.
  • If your child is young, writing might be tiring. Offer to be their scribe and write down all of the words for them. If the child is older and has difficulty writing, assure them that using a keyboard is okay.
  • If your child is on the younger side and you think they might enjoy this, invite them to share what they’ve written, while also assuring them it’s okay to keep ideas to themselves.
  • Remind your child they can fill their journals with so much more than words. Art, collage, ticket stubs from a fun event can all be drawn, pasted, and scotch taped to the pages of their journal.

Get Started with a Prompt

Many young (and older) journalers are enthusiastic to begin writing but have difficulty getting started. Writing prompts provide a starting point and will help keep your child’s pen moving.

I wish that I could see ____again.

If I could know the answer to any question it would be____.

Today the best things and worst things that happened were____.

I wish my best friend knew____.

I feel proud of myself when____.

I am good at____.

I wish I was better at____.

Even though I know ____ isn’t real it still frightens me.

I want to learn about____ because_____.

Someday I will visit____.

When I grow up my house will be____.

Nature makes me feel____.

You know this child well. If you like, create your own prompts that you believe may inspire them.

The way we present prompts to kids can be part of the magic. Maybe you give them one special idea to write about. You might also provide a list of prompts that they can choose from. Or how about filling a jar with prompts and each morning they close their eyes and choose one. Every day can be different if that method appeals. Other children will be comforted by a predictable rhythm and routine.

Among the most important gifts we give our children is the confidence to believe in their feelings and the curiosity to want to know more. Journaling is one way to facilitate these lessons. Enjoy!

An Exercise to Practice While Sheltering in Place, with Merle R. Saferstein

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Nostrum minus ea suscipit porro alias corporis libero at. Perferendis omnis, veniam nemo beatae vel? Tempora numquam a repellat eaque natus, magnam?

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

In 1974, I participated in an Ira Progoff workshop in which we were given a values clarification exercise asking us to list twenty things that bring us happiness. Upon completion of the list, we were given a number of questions related to what we had written.

Based on that exercise, I have created the following exercise which I am currently using in journaling circles and legacy classes which I am facilitating.

List ten things that brought you joy prior to sheltering in place.

List ten things that currently bring you joy while sheltering in place.

  • Now that you are sheltering in place, do you see anything different about how you are bringing joy into your life?
  • What do you miss the most from before?
  • Do you think you might add something new to your life after, and if yes, what would that be?
  • Prior to sheltering in place, how did you reach out to others? Currently, how are you reaching out now? What does that look like for you?
  • Is there any way that you feel a shift in your core values since sheltering in place, and if yes, how does that look to you?
  • What did you learn from doing this exercise?
  • When I reflect on this, I notice….
  • When I reflect on this, I feel…
  • What makes me happiest these days is…

Journal to Connect with Your Guardian Angels

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Nostrum minus ea suscipit porro alias corporis libero at. Perferendis omnis, veniam nemo beatae vel? Tempora numquam a repellat eaque natus, magnam?

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

We say it on the podcast all the time: there isn’t a wrong way to journal. In fact, the beauty of this tool is its flexibility. There is a journaling method out there for everyone. Our goal at Journaling.com is to help you find the methods that resonate best for you.

My conversation with today’s guest, angel journaling expert Dede Lyons, shines light on a writing approach referred to as Angel Journaling.

Dede is an empowerment coach and founder of the Feel Good Express lifestyle program. She is creator of The Feel Good Journal. Dede began journaling in 1990 when she purchased Louise Hayes The Garden of Thoughts journal. A few years later she received an angel reading and attended a “learn how to talk with your angels” class. Since then she has channeled guidance and wisdom from her unseen helpers to guide her through all of her life endeavors.

The experiences Dede recounts in our conversation surprise and inspire. To learn more, listen to our interview, or read below to see highlights from our talk.


Journal to Connect with Your Guardian Angels


Our conversation opens with Dede sharing a series of events that led to life-changing realizations. After an unexpected professional set back left her shaken and vulnerable, she went to her hair salon for some much needed self-care. On the way to the appointment, just before stepping onto the subway, Dede caught a glimpse of the cover of Time Magazine on a newsstand. Its images of clouds and angels caught Dede’s eye, and she bought a copy to read on the train.

When Dede reached the salon she confided in her hairdresser telling him everything that had gone wrong that day; she also showed him the magazine article about angels.

Dede’s story got the attention of others in the salon, and soon everyone was sharing their beliefs. “You are in the perfect place in your life to benefit from an angel reading,” someone told her. They suggested she visit Trudy Griswold, an expert who could help her connect with angels.

Over time, Dede met with Trudy, studied with her, and began to cultivate an angel journaling practice that was deeply meaningful.  As she connected with her angels, she could hear their wisdom, and Dede learned that there are unseen helpers all around. This realization has been a source of tremendous peace for her.

Angel Journaling

Angel journaling is the act of writing to your angels to share what’s on your mind as well as to seek guidance. This form of writing, Dede explains, cultivates connection with your unseen helpers.

Inspired by all that she was learning from Griswold, Dede began angel journaling almost immediately.

Angel journaling makes people feel safe and connected, Dede explains. “When you write and make a connection you feel like you have this whole support group that you cannot see that is there to help you.”

Angel pages, Dede notes, nicely complement Julia Cameron’s popular technique referred to as “morning pages,” which involves writing free-form every morning to release fears and worries that block creativity and joy.

Dede’s Process

1. Similar to Cameron’s morning pages, Dede pours doubt, frustration, and fear into a notebook. Those pages are immediately shredded and the negative feelings are released.

2. Next she focuses on gratitude. Sometimes the thoughts that surface in this moment are written down, but Dede finds it equally effective to celebrate her thanks in the shower or while looking in the mirror. Dede emphasizes this action does not have to take a lot of time or be written on paper to be effective.

3. Steps 1 and 2 put Dede in a place where she is ready to communicate with her angels.

Dede’s Tips for Angel Journaling

Dede has designed a lovely angel journal—a blank lined book with quotations on each page and images to inspire your process. Whether you use her book or another, Dede suggests keeping your angel journal separate from the book you use to do other forms of journaling.

  1. Find a sacred place to sit with your journal. Turn off all of your devices. Light a candle.  
  2. Set an intention to connect with a beautiful like-minded being.
  3. Open your heart chakra—this is an opportunity to communicate from your heart.
  4. Hold an angel stone or another object that feels comfortable to you.
  5. Close your eyes and visualize stands of angels.
  6. Start writing. Tell the angels hello. Announce that you want to share something and would also appreciate answers. Write as though you are writing to your best friend. Share things that happened that day. Ask questions. Seek guidance.

Your Action Plan

Whether you consider the messages you receive through this practice the voice of your angels or your own inner wisdom, Dede’s methods are powerful and provide comfort.

Find the Joy in Today

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Nostrum minus ea suscipit porro alias corporis libero at. Perferendis omnis, veniam nemo beatae vel? Tempora numquam a repellat eaque natus, magnam?

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Let’s be honest. Joy is easier to find some days than others. When the sun is shining, our families are well, work is fulfilling, and we have free time for play, joy feels abundant. We don’t have to look for it or give it a name. It just is.  

Inevitably, rainy days come, the people we love hurt, work changes, and in the midst of the pressure we forget how to play. These days are difficult but also significant. When we accept life’s challenge to learn to find joy even in tough times, we develop resilience and inner peace that endures.

So where do we find joy? How do we cultivate good feelings when they are nowhere to be found? The research is clear; journaling is a powerful, well-proven tool that helps manifest joyfulness.

Journaling allows us to:

  • practice gratitude
  • cultivate affirming thinking
  • be in the here and now
  • reframe ideas and put them in a positive or growth-oriented light
  • live mindfully

30 Days of Joy: How to Rewire Your Brain for Happiness is an excerpt from an upcoming book by Journaling.com’s founder, Rebecca Kochenderfer.

Rebecca introduces you, week by week, to new joy habits that will transform the way you experience life. Discover the many ways journaling helps rewire the brain for a more optimistic and proactive outlook.

Featuring a collection of inspiring prompts, this guide provides a series of activities that will reset your thinking and open up pathways that lead to peace, joy, and confidence.

This download is our free gift to you. Visit Journaling.com to become a member of our community (it’s free too!) and use this guide to help discover the joy and meaning in all of your days.  

Journal to Manifest Your Goals, with Sara Caputo

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Nostrum minus ea suscipit porro alias corporis libero at. Perferendis omnis, veniam nemo beatae vel? Tempora numquam a repellat eaque natus, magnam?

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Journaling is well-recognized as an effective mindfulness tool, but did you know it can also help us to set and achieve major goals? Sara Caputo joined us on the podcast to show us how.  

Sara is the founder of Sara Caputo Consulting–a coaching, consulting and training business based in Santa Barbara, California, and she is the author of The Productivity Puzzle: What’s Your Missing Piece? Part workflow analyst, part stress-relief therapist, and 100 percent to-do list ninja, her approach is simple—to help  individuals, teams, and small businesses find strategies and solutions that work specifically for their brains, their goals, and their lives.

To learn more about Sara’s work, listen to our interview, or read below to see highlights from our talk.

Sara began journaling as a child. As she grew older, she noticed the goals and intentions she wrote about were becoming actualized, and she recognized the connection. Journaling helps us to manifest our goals. Convinced by her personal experiences, today, Sara counsels others to manifest their own objectives through journal writing.

Writing down our goals, Sara explains, frees us up so we can back away and see the idea from a variety of vantage points. In turn, this lets us respond with optimal effectiveness and awareness.

Journal to Sharpen Your Focus

As a coach, Sara encourages clients to be highly specific when writing down goals. “The more clear our words can be, the more likely it is things will unfold as we’d like them to.”

The science substantiates Sara’s experiences. The power of writing down an action plan, she explains, helps make a connection from the hand to the brain. The physical act of writing down our goals turns on the reticular formation system which is a network of pathways that connect the spinal cord, cerebrum, and cerebellum, and in turn impact our consciousness.

Sara describes one study to demonstrate the power of the reticular formation system. Participants were divided into two groups. The first group was asked to write down all of the items from their grocery list. The second group wrote down nothing. Even without the lists in hand, people in the first group could recall which items they needed with greater ease than those in group B who’d written nothing down. Sara connects the dots and explains. Our brain starts working on our goals the moment our pen hits the paper.

Sara’s Suggestions

Sara shares tips to maximize mindful efficiency.

  • Write a to-do list right before bed to help the reticular formation system sort out the details as you sleep.
  • Don’t always tackle the most urgent seeming item on your to-do list. Be strategic about what you let your brain know is important; otherwise we will always take the quick win and never accomplish the important long term goals that matter most.
  • Keep your journals. Old journals are reminders of the power of writing down goals.

MJR: Give it a Try!

Sara describes the approach she takes to begin each new day. MJR, as she refers to it, is a plan Sara developed that involves meditation, journaling, and reading every morning.  

  • Meditation. Sara uses an App, Insight Timer, which provides free guided meditations. For 3-5 minutes each morning she focuses on deep breaths and on setting her intentions.
  • Journal. Sara strives to fill a page of her journal every morning. At this moment she notes the things she’s grateful for, writes about actions she’d like to manifest, and explores and releases worries.  
  • Read. Sara has a quote book she reads from to glean inspiration and perspective. She reads other non-fiction during this time as well because it’s the moment in her day when she’s best able to focus her attention.

Sara emphasizes the importance of establishing healthy habits. Practices like her MJR approach are only likely to happen if they become implemented as a regular part of one’s day. Sara finds it helpful to engage with her routine before her family wakes in the morning. Find the time that works for you, and then stick with it, she suggests.

Journal your Biggest, Boldest Intentions

When we journal about big ideas, we grow more comfortable with them and develop the confidence we need to carry out the plan. Journaling, Sara shows, is the important pre-work that needs to be done in order to actualize our boldest dreams of all.

Your Action Plan

If you found this conversation helpful, you might also enjoy our conversation with Dr. Dan Seigel in which we discuss journaling’s positive effects on the brain.

Journaling to the Rescue, with Lucia Capacchione, PhD

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Nostrum minus ea suscipit porro alias corporis libero at. Perferendis omnis, veniam nemo beatae vel? Tempora numquam a repellat eaque natus, magnam?

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

Heading 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem ipsum mollitia neque, illum illo excepturi, eum incidunt fugit nostrum est, voluptate eaque minima corporis debitis at, dolores ipsam. Quaerat, dolores.

From the moment our interview with today’s guest began, it was clear this would be the first conversation of many. Lucia Capacchione, PhD, ATR, REAT is an extraordinary thinker, art therapist and pioneer in the fields of expressive arts therapy and journal therapy. Her knowledge of these topics is wide and deep.

Lucia is the bestselling author of 23 books on journaling using drawing and writing. She originated The Creative Journal method and bilateral journaling: drawing and dialoguing with both hands. Her books include The Creative Journal, The Power of Your Other Hand, and Recovery of Your Inner Child. She has created Creative Journal programs for schools (K – 12), cancer support groups, and trainings for educators and mental health professionals. Lucia has a private practice and is director of Creative Journal Expressive Arts Certification Training for Professionals. 

We sat down to discuss how journaling with our non-dominant hand can help address anxiety, stress, relationship dynamics, and physical pain.

To learn more about Lucia’s groundbreaking work, listen to our interview, or read below to see highlights from our talk.


Journaling to the Rescue, with Lucia Capacchione, PhD


From first-hand experience, Lucia knows the power of journaling, and she credits the practice with saving her life. At age 35, Lucia became so ill she was bedridden. The medications prescribed did not help, and her condition remained a medical mystery for many years. In desperation, she turned to the journal she’d just begun keeping.  It was there that she could unload the anxiety and confusion she was feeling.  

Lucia began to write her feelings out and grew fascinated as she realized the ways journaling contributed to her growth and understanding.

In time, the source of Lucia’s ill health was discovered. She recovered and went on to become an art therapist. When she began this work, she immediately started assigning clients journaling prompts as a means to tap into their subconscious. Her book The Creative Journal features the prompts she used along with art from her students and clients.

Journaling Improves Health

Having survived her own health crisis, Lucia became interested in James Pennabaker’s ground breaking research that showed journaling’s impact on the immune system.

Dr. Pennebaker asked one group of people to journal about trivial events while a second group was asked to journal about personal crisis and trauma. Blood tests were administered before and after the writing sessions. Those who wrote about a crisis were found to have heightened immunity whereas no changes were detected in the blood of those who had jotted down trivial events of the day.

Since this finding, there have been a multitude of studies that show the impact of journaling on physical health, including one that showed patients who journal before surgery heal more quickly. Lucia explains that when our emotions are not released they become somatized. Journaling helps us connect with and extract strong emotions so that they do not make us ill.

Writing with Your Non-dominant Hand

Lucia explains that the value of journaling with the non-dominant hand is it provides access to the right side of the brain which specializes in emotional expression and intuition. She contrasts this with the left hemisphere which is the verbal center of our brain.

The limbic system is the part of our brain that controls our physical and emotional responses to stimuli.  Lucia describes this region as a gating mechanism and explains that using the non-dominant hand, unrooted in verbal expression, helps us access this system and get to the heart of the issues we need to explore.

When we write with our non-dominant hand, we use both side of the brain. Lucia explains how we pull words and language from the left brain and run it through the corpus collepsum which is the part of the brain that establishes communication between the two hemispheres of the brain. In effect, we are synthesizing language and our deepest thoughts and emotions.

Manage Stress

In her book, Drawing Your Stress Away, Lucia provides journaling and drawing prompts to help us manage stress. She shares an example.

  • Scribble your heart out. Start scribbling on scrap paper. Begin with your non-dominant hand. Use crayons and fat markers. The stress you carry will begin to pour out. Do this for as long as you like. Note that it’s the movement on the paper that releases stresses.
  • Dance on paper. When you feel finished with the first step, put on some calming music. Use both hands and imagine they are performing a duet. Resume scribbling, but this time allow the music to flow through you and inform the movement and markings you make on the paper. Avoid the temptation to draw pictures. Leave only tracks that represent the movement of the music through your body and onto the paper. Feel the stress leaving.

Lucia notes that this can be a meaningful exercise to practice with children. It’s applicable to people and at any age.  

Manage Anxiety and Depression

Lucia’s work proves that strong emotions and feelings can be released by drawing them out.  To combat anxiety and depression she suggests drawing a picture of the issues you wrestle with. Do this with your non-dominant hand.

For example, a person who is feeling boxed in, Lucia suggests, would draw an image of themselves in a box. Next, they engage in a dialogue with the image.  It would look something like this:

Dominant hand writes: What are you?
Non-dominant hand answers:  I’m you stuck in a box. 

Dominant hand writes: How do you feel?
Non-dominant hand answers: I feel shut down. I feel locked up.

Dominant hand writes: What’s making you to feel this way?
Non-dominant hand answers:  You are putting me in all of these different boxes and schedules. I’m tired.

Dominant hand writes: How can I help you?
Non-dominant hand answers: I want to stop doing things that don’t fulfill me. I want to start exercising and painting.  

Manage Your Health

Lucia recommend similar methods when addressing physical health. She shows how we can talk to individual body parts to manage symptoms.  

  • Lie down. Notice the areas of your body where you experience discomfort.
  •  Draw a picture of your body, and color the areas where you eperience pain.  
  • If there is pain in your shoulder talk with it:
    What are you?
    What’s causing this?
    What can be done about it?

Manage Relationships

In her book The Power of Your Other Hand, Lucia explains the physiology of writing and growing with your non-dominant hand and shows how this can impact our relationships in significant ways.

  • Sit down and imagine you are having a conversation with someone significant in your life.
  • With your dominant hand, express your feelings: “I’m angry that you walked away in the middle of our conversation last week.”
  • Put the pen in your non-dominant hand and write what the other person would say. “I left because I was scared. I thought you were going to start blaming me.”

In her work, Lucia has observed that all kind of insights come up using this method to help us better understand another person’s perspective. 

The Future of Journaling

If journaling is a tool you rely on, you are not alone!  With happiness, Lucia predicts the future for journaling is bright. “I do book signings, and when I am in bookstores they always put me in front of a wall of blank books. I always tell my audience that when I started speaking about journaling many years ago, there weren’t any blank books in the bookstores. You had to go to an art store to get something to journal in. Now there are all these beautiful options.”

It’s Lucia’s dream to take journaling to public schools. The research shows that journaling helps students manage disruptive behaviors, test-taking anxiety, and positively impacts the social atmosphere in classrooms.

Your Action Plan

If you found this conversation helpful, you might also enjoy our conversation with Deborah Ross in which we discuss journaling’s effects on the brain.