Self-care 101: Journaling

I may be just a little biased about this, but I think writing is one of the coolest ways to take care of yourself. It only costs as much as a pen and paper, you can do it anywhere (within reason), and no one can do it like you doThere’s truly no downside.

In my opinion, If you don’t have access to therapeutic services keeping a journal is one of the best ways to get your emotions out in a healthy way. It goes beyond the bubble baths and face masks to help you get to the root of your emotions in order to grow, which is imperative on this journey.

The benefits of journaling

There are so many benefits that go along with keeping a journal. From improved confidence to beefing up your memory, the practice of wrestling with your thoughts is worth the time it takes to get it done. By putting your emotions down on paper – both good and bad – you’re freeing up your mind to start healing. Instead of keeping everything bottled up, only to explode at inopportune times, you’re carving out a space to be unfiltered and honest. We’re more likely to open up when we aren’t going to be judged, so what better place than a book no one gets to see unless you trust them to read it?

How to get started

Journals don’t have to be what they were in the past. Sure, they can be pretty, leather-bound books you save up for, or they can be your thoughts scribbled in a $2 notebook. You can do it digitally on your phone or computer if you please, as long as you carve out time to sit and let your mind flow. Your journal is your safe zone. It’s your place and your time to work out the knots messing up your day, or to gush about how fantastic your dinner was. It’s your reward to yourself for doing the damn thing.

I do think it’s important to acknowledge that writing isn’t easy for everyone, no matter how much you’ve been forced to do it in school. For many of us writing was a task,or sometimes a punishment for bad behavior, so it’s understandable if you can’t relax enough to let the emotions flow. Here’s a tip: if you approach your journal with the mindset that no one will see it – like no one, not even your cat – the process can become exponentially easier. Don’t worry about grammar, how your script looks, or if it even makes any sense at all ; this is purely for the release of your emotions. You can do it however you want to do it. It doesn’t matter if you want to use bullet points, write in short hand, or draw – it’s all the right way! As long as you are giving yourself freedom to be unfiltered you are going to flourish.

With that said, why not give journaling a go this year?

Feeling Low? Let’s Make A Gratitude Journal!

A big part of my healing journey has been dedicated to the slow and steady re-calibration of my brain. If this sounds crazy, well, that’s because it is! It goes against everything your body wants you to do, with all those learned behaviors and ticks being questioned. However, I’m not trying to learn how to write with my left hand versus my right. I’m more committed to undoing the jigsaw puzzle of trauma.

As humans, it’s natural for us to look at the bad things we’ve experienced and replay them over and over in order to learn how to survive the next bad thing. That instinct is compounded when you introduce a traumatic event. I’ve lived most of my life replaying the same nightmares when I’m doing something as innocuous as making toast. Referred to as Automatic Thoughts, I really don’t have much control over how they flood my life, but I’m working on developing ways to counteract the impact with a little bit of good.

Enter the gratitude journal!

nicksplat writing GIF by Hey Arnold

Now, I’m not talking about the kind of journal where you wax poetic about a celeb crush  – this particular journal is a place for you to fill up with all the things that make you feel thankful for your life. I’m talking every good moment, every good bite of a sandwich, every compliment, every time you push forward when you want to give up. It’s been my experience that the more time I dedicate to making time for my gratitude journal, the stronger I am once I’m hit with an automatic thought.

So, if you’re struggling ,or just want some more good vibes in your life, I highly recommend giving this practice a shot. Your time is never wasted when it’s dedicated to taking care of yourself.

Have you ever tried a gratitude journal? If you have or will be, let me know in the comments!

If you would like to learn more about automatic thoughts, I suggest checking out this resource by clicking here.