Book Review: You Want Me To Do What? Journaling for Caregivers
“How can I possibly find time to write in a journal?” I said, thinking of my already never-ending “To Do” list.
In this brief and encouraging book, “You Want Me to Do What? Journaling for Caregivers,” author B. Lynn Goodwin shows caregivers how we can make the time — starting with just a few minutes once a day as a “goal, not a mandate.” And why it is worthwhile to keep a journal for our own mental health and stress relief.
How Do We Begin Keeping A Journal?
Goodwin includes ten short writing tips to refer to. I’ve already used them and a few I’ve found very helpful are:
1. Start where you are. Start with the mood you are in. Start with what you see and hear. Start with what needs to spill out.
2. Feelings ebb and flow like the tides. Write what is true for you in the moment. When your truths change, write different things using the same sentence start.
3. Write about specific thoughts, worries, and dreams. Write about the day you will be free from this phase of your life.
What is a Sentence Start?
The book includes many interesting beginnings for sentences to complete to get started writing. For example, in the chapter entitled “Thoughts About Me,” some sentence starts are:
- I don’t like to brag, but . . .
- If I let myself cry . . .
The chapter called “Thoughts About Caregiving” include these:
- When I came into your room this morning . . .
- If I could change one thing in our routine . . .
And here are a few of my favorites from the other chapters:
- I wish I understood . . .
- Parents and children should . . .
- I want other caregivers to know . . .
Why Is the Time Spent Journaling Worthwhile?
In Goodwin’s words:
This journal is your personal record of your emotional truth. It is a place to heal and grow. Don’t judge away your negative thoughts. They are only thoughts — not actions . . . . Get your story, your nuances, your frustrations, your hopes and your love on the page. Your story is buried treasure.
Caregivers need to make time for self-care, and keeping a journal is one excellent way to accomplish this. I find writing about my caregiving experience helps me clarify the questions rattling around in my head, as well as get my deepest fears and worries out onto paper. And sometimes answers or a new perspective about these questions come to me, often long after the writing session is over.
I don’t plan on sharing my off line journal with anyone, so it is a safe place for me to vent about both the good and the crappy parts of caregiving. In doing so I am creating a record of my unique caregiving journey. And by looking back at things I’ve written days or weeks ago, it has already provided me with a sense of how issues and my feelings about them ebb and flow.
The time I’ve written in my caregiving journal so far has been brief, but it has been very therapeutic. I know I’ll continue to chronicle this stage of my life.
Why don’t you give it a try? Let me know how it goes for you.
Do you keep a journal now? Is it about caregiving or something else? What do you get from the journaling experience?
Please share your comments below.
More information about B. Lynn Goodwin’s book and journaling for caregivers can be found on her website WriterAdvice.com.