When you have ulcerative colitis (UC), keeping a daily journal is one of the best ways to set yourself up for management success. A 2002 study shows that journaling can help during stressful events and situations. And writing down specific items — like what you ate for lunch or what kind of exercise you did after work — could aid you in identify any potential UC triggers.

Of course, keeping a journal can seem like just another chore to do each day. Research has found that food journaling in particular can be overwhelming and burdensome. This is mainly because it requires you to write down specific portion sizes, types of foods, time logs, and other specifics — a list of things that may take longer to record than it does to actually eat!

And while this may seem off-putting, people with UC have been known to benefit from recording what they eat, along with other day-to-day events. Knowing what you ate, what time of day you took your medication, or even what was going on at work that particular day can help you and your healthcare team identify what may have led to a flare.

Not sure where or how to start journaling? Take a look at this sample journal, grab a book or download a journaling app on your smartphone, and start monitoring your UC more effectively today. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of American has an interactive tool you might like to try called GI Buddy. It helps track a variety of symptoms that affect your quality of life.