Do you ever get the feeling that your mind is crunching, like something is about to snap? Your thoughts are racing so fast that you don’t even know what you are thinking. Your head is busy and flooded with ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘who’ and ‘when’. All these unanswered questions, a feeling of uncertainty and overwhelm, and all you want to do is put the covers back over your head and go back to sleep. Well if that sounds familiar, know that you are not alone. That is anxiety.
Up until recently, I didn’t understand that I suffered anxiety and yet I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have it. I know that sounds strange but nobody told me that I didn’t have to feel that way. I just thought that I was broken or getting my life wrong, ultimately everything was my fault and I needed to fix it now, like as in right now, today!
Journaling has given me a tool to shift that mood but also help me to become clear on how I want to show up on any given day.
“Journaling is the act of expressing your deepest thoughts and feelings by putting words to your inner life and then putting these words on paper. It is a mental, emotional and spiritual exercise that helps you build strong “emotional muscles” to deal with life’s difficulties and uncertainties. In identifying your negative thoughts and beliefs and cultivating positive, healing ones in their place, journaling helps you discover your sense of purpose and meaning in life, as well as your relationship to a higher power” William B. Salt II., MD
So how to get started….
First of all, decide on your WHY for journaling – is it to feel better, to develop a relationship with yourself, to get your thoughts out on paper so you can understand yourself better, to track your journey, to set intentions, to practice gratitude or ALL of the above?
- Invest in a journal that resonates with you, be it the colour, the shape, the texture, the message on the front. Invest in something you are drawn to and will enjoy using. My first journal was a beautiful handmade brown leather bound journal. I used to love writing in it, I felt it was my sanctuary.
- Keep your journal somewhere that you can see it and access it easily. I always keep mine by my bedside, and I often take it with me in my bag, especially on those days that I am struggling emotionally.
- See your journal as your safe space for checking in on yourself and becoming more aware of your thoughts, feelings & emotions. You don’t have to be a writer, it doesn’t have to be poetic perfection, it can be words, images, statements. It just needs to make sense to you.
- If you don’t know what to journal about, start by practicing gratitude. Write out the statement ‘I am grateful for ‘x 3 times and just let the pen flow. Start small, your morning coffee, a child smiling at you, the sun shining, you got up today….
- Use your journal as a tool to kick-start the day
- Journal to reflect on how your day went
- When fear and anxiety encroaches your thoughts, turn to your journal and write it out.
- Know that you don’t have to journal every day or at a certain time. Your journal is there for you when you need it most. Morning journaling cultivates a positive mind-set, evening journaling helps to reflect on your wins for the day and areas you wish to improve, therefore deepening your awareness on the behaviours you chose, and using your journal to help recalibrate after fearful thoughts, is a gift from you to you.
The only way to know how it can benefit is by trying it. I started out over 5 years ago, by journaling 3 things to be grateful for every day. Those 3 short statements slowly began to expand into expressing emotions and I soon became aware of my thoughts. I began to realise the benefit of writing and releasing, and I realised my head began to lighten, I could see things from a different perspective. All was OK, I was OK by writing it out and releasing it.
Here are some questions or prompts to help get you started:
- How am I doing this morning?
- How would I like today go?
- What do I need to be my best self today?
- What do I need to let go of?
- What is my intention for today?
- What am I grateful for?
- What went well for me today?
- If I was to start the day over, would I do anything differently?
- What did I learn about today?
- What am I grateful for?
- How do I want to show up in the world tomorrow?
- What story am I telling myself right now?
- How true is that story?
- Where am I feeling it in my body?
- What tools could I use to calm my body & mind down?
- Do I really need to have all the answers right now or is that just a story I tell myself?
- What would happen if I chose peace instead?
- What one step can I take towards peace?