Category Archives: PSR

Gratitude List: an integral part of a Wellness Journal in Treating Mood Disorders.

Wellness JournalsCreating a gratitude list is a key component in Wellness Journals. Creating a gratitude list forces the individual to start looking for and seeing the positive. Journaling gratitude creates a paradigm shift for the individual. When creating a gratitude list, there is only one real rule… it must be positive. I also suggest that people avoid repeat things, but this can be very difficult. On numerous occasions I have read back in my gratitude list, and found repeated entries.

There are impressive benefits to writing down things that you are grateful for including greater physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, less depression, reduced anxiety, and a more positive relationship with family and loved ones. I recommend to my clients that they come up with at least three unique things each night that they are grateful for.

In my experience it is easier to do this if you add the activity to an already established habit. I have had good results in suggesting that individuals with spiritual beliefs write in their gratitude list each night before saying their evening prayers, including the things that they are grateful for into their prayers. Alternatively I encourage those individuals who regularly mediate to write in their journals before meditating. Look for some activity in which you engage on a daily basis, it will make remembering to write in the journal easier. It does not matter what time of day that you journal what you are grateful for. Whenever is easiest for you.

Remember not to get too picky about spelling, grammar, and how your handwriting looks. It is more important that you do it. Some studies have shown that doing it two or three times a week is as effective as doing it every night, so don’t worry if you forget a night.

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How Wellness Journals are Helpful when emergencies arise.

Individuals with mood disorders occasionally find themselves overwhelmed by their circumstances and find themselves speaking to a social worker in an Emergency Department of their local hospital, or calling a crisis line.  This is usually due to suicidal ideations or self-injurious behaviors or urges.  Many of these individuals have appropriate coping strategies however Depression robs them of their ability to think of and implement these strategies.   People with mood disorders find themselves unable to remember, or implement the strategies that they worked on with their primary therapist.

After finding themselves in the Emergency Department or on the phone with a crisis worker they are often asked by the social worker as to what strategies they have used in the past to deal with their emotional turmoil.  Once again their depression robs them of their ability to adequately recall times when they have successfully dealt with the depression.  If they are asked to think of ways in which they could proactively work towards dealing with their depression and anxiety, they are faced with the same problems.

This is why Wellness Journals are so helpful with individuals with mood disorders.   It allows them to plan for crises in advance.  It allows them to plan on what to do if they find that they are depressed.   It contains positive memories, self-affirmations, and reminders of who they are, and why they want to keep living.  It is the very nature of depression to rob clients of their ability to reason, to remember, and to plan.  It is why I encourage all of my clients to use Wellness Journals to deal with their mood disorders.

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What is a Wellness Journal

Wellness Journals

A wellness journal is a tool designed for the treatment and wellbeing of individuals including those with mood disorders. Generally I like to help the client choose a journal that matches his or her personality. I prefer to take clients to office supply stores to find a good journal. I have found that journals at dollar stores are generally low quality, and tend to fall apart quickly. Alternately you can purchase a composition book and decorate it with the client. You can also find high quality handmade leather bound journals on the internet. I usually elect for something around mid-range. I have a drawer full of journals that I have picked up off the close out shelves at local office supply stores, book stores, or dollar shores (or Poundland if you are from the UK). Do not use a spiral bound notebook, as the client should take the journal with him/her in the unfortunate event that he or she is hospitalized. If it has a spiral binding, it cannot be taken on to Behavioral Health Units.

Finding an appropriate journal is an important part of the process. You want a journal that will mean something to your client, that won’t immediately be lost or thrown on a shelf; hence my appeal for leather bound journals.

It is important to note that this is not a “regular” journal. It is not used for writing our general thoughts, frustrations, etc. It is for the sole purpose of being and keeping ourselves well. Therefore nothing negative should EVER be written in the book. It is a positive journal. Please make the purpose of a wellness journal clear to your client. It is also not a therapeutic journal, as assigned by a counselor or clinical social worker. It is not a daily diary (those are a different section).

The first page will contain identifying information. For me, that means the first page contains an artistic rendition of your name with some basic contact information. If your client is artistic, they should be encouraged to add their artistic or crafty flair to it. Between each section of the wellness journal, there should be pages left blank, so that later on the client can add to the journal.

Spend time to educate your client on the following items:
1.  The purpose of the wellness journal is to help raise or stabilize the client’s mood when he or she is in a down or a slump, therefore no negative things should be written within its pages
2.  For the journal to be effective, the client must commit to be willing to read it when he or she is in a slump.
3.  The journal must be kept in a convenient place, so that it can be found and read when feeling down.
4.  Encourage the client NOT to use it for other purposes, such as keeping track of phone numbers or writing notes to oneself.
5.  Remind the client NOT to use it for homework assignments from his or her counselor or therapist if you are a PSR worker.
6.  Instruct your clients to use some pages for sketching, meaningful quotes, or inserting special photographs into some of the page.
7.  Encourage your client not to worry about grammar, spelling or use of punctuation.
8.  Wellness journals should be taken with the client in the event that he or she is hospitalized.

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