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Journaling Your Plastic Surgery Journey: Writing It Down

  • Feb 20, 2016
Writing for recovery, discovering healing power of words.

I know. I know. Yada yada… everyone’s talking about journaling. So, why am I wholeheartedly recommending this as a part of your pre-op and post-op Plastic Surgery journey? It works.

Young female is writing notes and planning her schedule.

Journaling your Plastic Surgery journey can be one of the most valuable healing tools you have.

Plastic Surgery, even from the inital spark of an idea that you are considering it, along the way through the consultation process, and throughout the surgical recovery, can be an emotional and physical rollercoaster many find themselves inadequately prepared to handle. Journaling your experience has been shown to have emotional and medical benefit that speeds your recovery and healing.

We’re not talking about the “Dear Diary” sort of journal that evokes memories of the teen angst of Sweet Valley High. This is real therapy, and real physical healing can result. And, who doesn’t want a speedier recovery?

I’ll be introducing a few concepts in journaling in this blog series that you may not have yet thought of as related to surgical healing and recovery. As pen meets paper and words begin to flow, so do emotions. Written words untangle the mind and soul, often in a way that is difficult to articulate in spoken words to others. That is why journaling is such a therapeutic exercise.

Expressive writing is a route to physical healing.

The most powerful way to do this is simply to write without thinking, known as “stream of consciousness” writing. This type of journaling often evokes thoughts and ideas you never knew you had in you. Stress often comes from emotional blockages, overthinking hypothetical situations, or feeling of being out of control of our own bodies and minds. When we are able to “let it out” in the concrete, yet private inscription of pen and ink, we are translating an experience, and the physical sensations and thoughts around it, into words on paper, we essentially make the experience more graspable. In other words, we can “wrap our head around it”, so to speak.

Studies show improved immune function and quicker recovery in participants of these types of writing exercises. Studies have also shown, because journaling is actually meditative, that the emotional release from journaling lowers anxiety, stress, helps relieve pain, and induces better sleep- all which impacts the body and boosts it’s ability to heal well.

A journal serves as a confidant.

Whether you are in pain and scared, angry and full of regret (it is not uncommon for Plastic Surgery patients to feel this way for a brief time before healing really begins), happy or sad, writing in a journal allows you the opportunity to lay down your burdens without being judged. It can powerfully unveil some inner thoughts and feelings of which you may not be aware.

You are completely free to release your emotions when you write in a journal. You can identify and solve problems as well as clarify and organize your thoughts. It is essentially a valuable form of self-care.

Writing it all down helps you communicate with me.

I think that one of the biggest frustrations patients feel is an inability to express to their caregivers and to me exactly what they are feeling. You will need reassurance at some point in the Plastic Surgery process, but often patients are too timid to ask for it. Putting it on paper allows you to organize and clarify those thoughts so we can discuss them.

Journaling elevates self-confidence.

Journaling about an experience and expectations of a positive outcome allows contemplatingyour brain to relive it and reaffirms your abilities when self-doubt (“Why did I even do this surgery?? Right now everything just hurts.”) rears its ugly head. The release of endorphins and dopamine will boost your self-esteem and elevate your mood. These reflections can become a catalog of personal achievements that you continue to go back to long after you have healed and you are looking quite fabulous. Look how far you’ve come!

Recovery Journaling Tips

As you work to incorporate journaling into your Plastic Surgery transformation journey, remember that consistency and non-judgement are crucial in keeping up with your writing. Begin writing perhaps three days a week, first thing in the morning or just before going to bed. Here are a few more tips and tricks to get you started:

Complete freedom. There is no right or wrong way to journal. This is not about how good you are at writing. You are at liberty to be creative and express your feelings in any way you wish. There is no one checking your journal for spelling or grammar errors, so there is no need to be self-conscious about your writing form.

To save or not save? If the thought of someone reading your journal gives you anxiety, make plans to shred it when you are done. The work is still just as beneficial. On the other hand, if you value it as a positive reminder and confidence-booster, feel free to hold onto it. The choice is yours.

Find the right journal and the right pen. Select a journal that is inviting to you. There are so many out there to choose from these days! Then make sure the pen you select is easy to write with, has a comfortable fit, and has ink that flows consistently and smoothly.

Create a ritual. Find a comfy spot where you can ultimately relax. It may be outdoors or in a window seat so you can enjoy nature. Play some soft music. Get cozy with a cup of tea or coffee in a favorite mug. Many times having your sweet pet curled up next to you helps you feel loved and ready to receive the healing that journaling can bring. Each of these little things will contribute to your enjoyment of this special time you’ve lovingly set aside just for yourself. Your body will thank you!

In the next blog, we will explore Art Journaling as a method of recording and expressing your Plastic Surgery journey. Til next time, get journaling! Love y’all!