treble hook. | Hit the Gym! Hit the Journal!

November 1, 2022

Elianna Clark, graduate student


The 2020 BRIN Study:

The goal of our study was to investigate the chronic and/or recurring effects of anxiety and depression in expressive writing and/or physical exercise in a rural community during and after trials. The study was achieved and quantified by use of subjective mental health questionnaires, journaling and the monitoring of cardiorespiratory parameters and blood pressure following writing session(s) over the long term from pre- to post-intervention. We hoped to determine whether concentrated writing, similar to an exercise and/or resistance-training approach, produced an increase in mental and physical well-being. Investigating both male and female participants, we wanted to determine which approach, and/or combination of approaches, was most effective to potentially be later applied in subjects with documented mental health issues or post-traumatic stress disorder. 

To see our results and watch our BRIN video click here.

Q: Dr. Reese: What did you learn about Writing for Wellness?

A: Ellianna Clark:

After participating in the BRIN research involving the effects of journaling and exercise, I felt renewed by the experience the study gave me. I learned that journaling can positively aid a person to deal with emotions and feelings we encounter daily. I learned that journaling can help to decrease any feelings that may come from anxiety and depression. Combining both exercise and journaling can be a possible alternative to antidepressant medications. Through my experience, I learned more about myself than what I knew previously. Journaling helped me to learn what makes me, me, and how it creates my thought patterns. I learned that both writing and exercise can make you feel like a whole new person. Combining both of these activities, I began to see my anxiety decreasing. I learned that medication can possibly help with some of the emotions you are feeling, but there can be other constructive activities that you can do without the help of prescriptions. I do believe that if you try to feel your emotions and let them out in some way, that you will feel better whether that be exercising or writing about your day/life/etc. I learned that mental health should be a priority and simply doing something you love or trying something new can make the difference. 

Q: Did it inspire you to train harder to meet your goals in and out of the classroom?

A: After participating in this study, I incorporated the activities in my daily life. I continued to go to the gym and exercise as well as journal at night. Continuing exercising allowed me to fully see my potential and know that I had more in me than what I was showing. Journaling every night allowed me to write all my negative feelings away, and keep the positive in mind. It made me realize that I could do great things if I put my mind to it. Just by changing my mindset from only seeing negative things to seeing all the wonders life can give you without you noticing, I started to take pleasure in everything I was doing. I loved learning more knowledge in the profession I was going into and appreciated the guidance I received from nurses around me. I also started to enjoy running even more and put more effort into my workouts. By shifting my view to see the benefits of workouts, I allowed my body to push itself more and I began seeing results on the track. I was reaching my goals that were continuing to change as I was doing better than I thought I could do. When I would journal about all those feelings, I felt so blessed and grateful for the opportunity to run my best and get to be supported by those around me. This helped me to have a positive mindset and continue to strive to be the greatest I could be.

Q: Can you talk about how it might help you and your peers deal with trauma and fatigue in the nursing field? Example: daily journaling. 

A: Being a nursing major can have its toll on someone. I decided to tackle the difficult major and it was not easy. The nursing profession asks more out of their students than some other majors. I felt tired a lot from my studies as my days would consist of going to lectures, having lunch, more lectures, track practice, then the rest of my night consisted of completing the assigned homework for the night. Those were on the normal class days which happened three times a week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we would have clinical rotations at the hospital, some would require you to be up at 4 am and some 6 am. Then senior year comes around and you are having clinical rotations that are about 12 to 13 hours long, and could be either all day or overnight. Having this busy of a schedule can run people down and make them feel exhausted. You also see some things that are traumatic, that you thought you were ready to see but turns out you were not. I have had some moments in my job as a medication aide where I saw death.I thought I was ready for it but when the time came, I was not and it took a toll on me. I would always journal at the end of the day so I could write down everything that I was thinking and reflect on my day. This helped me to write out all the emotions I was feeling and this helped me to control them and not let them take over.

Emotions can be a lot for some people, they are for me; and journaling was a bridge to where I could fully feel them but also control them. As I journal I feel a calming sensation and feel like I am in charge of how I take things and handle them. I have been one to also bottle up my emotions and then eventually when it reaches the top, it all comes out. These emotions can come from everyday life, the frustrations, annoyance, sadness; but by journaling this would empty my bottle and not allow feelings to pile up. I picture my mind as an ocean, when I am anxious and may feel taken over by emotion. There is a surge of waves and they are crashing into one another and I cannot seem to think clearly. When I journal I see these waves beginning to calm as I write everything I am thinking. After I journal, I feel as though I am at peace and have calmed down. Journaling has helped show me that you cannot control everything that comes your way, but you can control how you react to it and how much it can affect you.

Q: What are you doing now at MMU?

I am a registered nurse and a track athlete. I graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Science in nursing. I am currently a nurse at the hospital in the dialysis unit. I am currently attending Mount Marty in their Master’s Program for Coaching Leadership.

I run at Mount Marty University on the track team. I am a sprinter and run the 60, 100, and 200 meter dash, as well as the 400 meter run. I had a great season last year and had some personal bests! My best times include 7.97 seconds for the 60 meter dash, 12.18 seconds for the 100 meter dash, 24.94 seconds for the 200 meter dash, and when competing in the 4x400 meter relay I had a 58 second split for my leg.



Check out more treble hook stories here.