With so many hardships and pressures going on this past year, getting rid of stress may seem impossible. But stress management isn’t about getting rid of stress but learning how you respond to the problem and deal with its symptoms. When you’re stressed, you may feel overwhelmed, frustrated, sad, or discouraged. When you’re experiencing all these emotions, writing about them can help you process your feelings, release some of the tension, and gain clarity to identify triggers and find solutions.

Studies have shown that writing down our feelings can help organize our thoughts and reduce stress. The next time you’re feeling worried or overextended, open your journal, write down your feelings, release negative thoughts, and gain perspective. You don’t have to journal every day for it to work. A few times a week and even as needed can be beneficial. Children can also draw in their journals instead if they prefer or can’t write in sentences yet.

Here are three different ways to journal so you can find what works for you!

1. Gratitude Journal
Make a short list of things you are grateful for. This helps you to focus the positive aspects in your life and help remind you of the things to appreciate in life.

2. Emotional Release Journal
Write about your emotional responses to events that have happened. This can help you to vent and process what you are feeling in response to stressful experiences.

3. Personal Planning Journal
Track daily activities and goals. Writing things down can help keep your mind feel organized, focused, and uncluttered. It can help you remember what’s important to you.

The best way to relieve stress can be different for each person. Here are some other stress relief ideas for families:

Exercise: Regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress. For children, this means activities like walking, bike-riding, outdoor play, and individual and group sports.

Deep Breathing: With the help of adults, children can be taught to slowly count to four as they inhale, and then count to four as they exhale. This exercise can be done for several minutes to help calm.

Coloring/Drawing: Younger children often find it helpful to color and draw about the things that are bothering them. It encourages quiet, meditative time and provides a break from video games and electronic devices. Coloring allows children to express themselves and can be an outlet for emotions and a soothing way for them to release energy.

Hobbies: Having a favorite hobby can help children relax and brings them enjoyment. The hobby can give them a break from stressful situations.

Imagination/Visualization: Children can be shown how to close their eyes and think of their favorite place or a special happy memory. Visualization can help create positive images that can help block out upsetting ones.

Sensory Activities: When children feel stress sensory activities such as squeezing play dough or a stress ball, finger painting and playing with water or sand can be used to reduce stress.

Listening to Music: Listening or dancing to music encourages relaxation. Music can boost happy feelings and reduce stress.