I began to journal around 3 years ago and although I was extremely sceptical in the beginning, I found it to be a vital resource in helping manage my anxiety on a daily basis.
Journalling was introduced to me as a great way to express yourself and learn more about your own thoughts and emotions, Once we understand our pattern of though we can begin to learn more about our personal triggers and how to manage them.
One of the very first steps in improving our mental and physical health is to introduce a routine whereby you allocate a little time each day to yourself.
I can already hear you saying exactly the same as I did, but when will I get a chance to do that?
As a busy working Mum with a household to run and all of the additional, relentless tasks that go along with it, initially I had no idea when I was going to fit in yet another one!
So to begin with, I found that it was much easier for me to try and take a few minutes at the start of the day before the madness started!
To be honest, in the beginning I would stare blankly at the pages wondering what on earth to write which seemed ironically bizarre because I had a thousand thoughts constantly running through my mind at any given time yet I didn’t seem to be able to hold onto any of them long enough to process them.
Thereby lay my starting point!
I began by writing some of the first things that were on my mind as I started the day and progressed to jotting down my feelings, eating habits and how I felt overall. It soon became my little morning routine which I actually looked forward to.
I later learned that when you write in your journal early in the morning before doing anything else, it is often called morning pages.
The idea behind it is that in the morning, before you check your phone or do your workout, or read a book or watch the news, you write in your journal. It doesn’t have to be a novel,, you can jot down as much or as little as you like, but it is a type of stream of consciousness, where you write anything that comes to mind.
During this time, you have less distraction and can be much more focused on writing down what is on your mind to get all those thoughts and worries out of your head before your day begins
This can help tremendously if you are like me and writing for your mental health, as it helps you to create a new habit by helping you create a daily, healthy routine where journaling becomes part of that new and much needed daily ritual.
Whilst journaling is not a kept secret that holds the key to dissolving your problems overnight, it can be a clue to where the key is hiding.
Initially, I was against accepting my anxiety as part of life, I felt that not only did it have any business whatsoever been there but its presence provided zero benefits to me.
I soon realised that acceptance is one of the main components in moving on and claiming your life back as your own from the grip of anxiety, Journalling provided me with much more self-awareness which made me feel that I could take those first important steps.
We have all been there at one time or another, sometimes, you feel bad but you don’t know why or perhaps you are just used to feeling that way nowadays without having the energy to question it.
Other times you feel in constant ‘Meerkat Mode’ your on high alert and pick up on anything and everything around you sometimes with a sense of dread , but you don’t realize it’s your anxiety causing it.
We can feel extremely irritated and constantly feel in a terrible mood, but you don’t know it’s from the stress caused by your anxious thoughts.
When we begin to physically write down our thoughts in the chaos of the moment, we can later look back with a slightly clearer mind and this is when we can start to see a pattern forming.
What triggers our thoughts that leads to those feelings, what makes it worse, and by contrast, what helps you to feel better.
The more you write in a journal about how you are feeling, the more you discover exactly how long you have had anxiety for, and even when it might have started. You often discover so many situations from your past or in the present that you didn’t even realize were directly linked to your anxiety.
To give you an example from my own personal experience, at the time I began journalling, I had been going through a particularly difficult time. Not only was I preparing for an employment tribunal against my former employer as a litigant in person, the sheer amount of stress and generalised anxiety caused by the situation saw me suffering with health anxiety too.
Reflecting back through the daily scribbles, it came as no great surprise to me that there was a distinct link between the constant preparation of my tribunal case and my overall anxiety symptoms but at first I was baffled by the fact that although I craved solice to try in some way to get my thoughts and feelings into some sort of order, my symptoms seemed to become much more prominent on the days when I managed to get it.
Eventually through identifying this pattern of behaviour, I came to realise that instead of using that time alone to try and overcome those troubled thoughts, with no distraction, they actually became much more prevalent and it dawned on me that instead of facing my problems I was simply adding to them.
Time on my hands meant more time to Google symptoms, more time to spend on my tribunal case work and more time to ruminate which in turn heightened my symptoms even more so it became a constant cycle. I recognised that I needed to stop living in the shadow of my anxiety and the negative thoughts that it provided and begin to look for more healthy habits to replace them with.
I can honestly say that although it seems blatantly obvious to me now, at the time I just couldn’t see the wood for the trees and I genuinley believe that without having that journalling outlet which allowed me to step back at much more rational times and review that cycle of behaviour, I know that I would have found it almost impossible to identify those patterns let alone find ways to manage or overcome them.
In my experience, writing has a great way of figuring out what is causing you the most stress in your life so you can work on reducing it.
Of course, everyone has stress in their life at some point, and most of the time, it can be out of our control and therefore unavoidable.
We also have to accept that many times, we may actually be the catalyst to our own stressors from time to time, but for the most part, it is simply the result of something you didn’t expect.
When you look at it logically, how can you possibly begin to figure something out and find a way to combat it, if you don’t know that it exists in the first place?
In the end I found myself scribbling down random thoughts, feelings and even questions to come back to at various times of the day and night!
Like many anxiety sufferers, I had great trouble sleeping but having an outlet to unburden some of the heaviest thoughts that would appear like dark shadows in the middle of the night at least meant that my anxiety afforded me a relief from its grip, even by just a small amount.
The great thing about journaling is that it is really versatile, and can be done at any time to suit you.
Maybe you already have a morning routine that works well for you, but perhaps there is another time during your day when you tend to fall behind and are in need of a new routine or a way of managing intruding thoughts and feelings.
Your journal becomes your most versatile and flexible friend ever, Morning, noon and night its right there for you if you need it. A constantly constant at a time when you need it most.
Like with many things in life, you never know where one journey can lead, although I personally began journalling to overcome a difficult time in my life, ironically it has lead to something much more amazing than I could have anticipated.
I rekindled my love of writing which opened up a whole new and exciting challenge, the one where I am sat here projecting my thoughts to you wonderful humans right now!
I learned so much about not only my anxiety but in a strange way rediscovered myself as a person which again, I find odd to say as I’m no great philosopher!
If your reading this and are still a little hesitant to give journalling a go, there’s an old saying that goes “You should never knock anything until you have tried it”
Perhaps, instead of knocking and waiting for others to open the door, we should try something for ourselves which may enable us to find the key to walk right on through allowing us to be the master of our own……Now there’s a philosophical thought for the day!
To take a look at my earlier blog based on my own personal experience please head over to the link here
To take a look at some different types of journal on offer, head over to the links below
FREE COPY – My Health Anxiety Journal- You can get your copy just HERE.
MY WELLNESS JOURNAL- Head over to my shop to take a look at my brand new wellness journal here.
MY AUTUMN JOURNAL – Head over to my shop to take a look at my brand new Autumn journal here.
FOCUS ON SELF-CARE WITH 90 DAYS OF MINDFUL WELLNESS PLANNING: Clever Fox Self-Сare Journal is a 3-month guided mental health journal that will help you prioritize your well-being and reconsider your everyday routines.This self care notebook is filled with prompts, open-ended questions, wellness trackers, and many other tools that will make it easy to see where your life is lacking and find efficient ways to improve your well-being. Take a look on Amazon here.
FOCUS on PROGRESS & THE GOOD THINGS in life: If you want to feel good, you need to be in charge of your thought patterns. This is exactly what this mindfulness journal trains with you in doable portions of 3 minutes in the morning and 3 minutes in the evening, Take a look at the 6 minute journal on Amazon here.
AN ALTERNATIVE JOURNAL: A sweary guided journal without all the touchy-feely self-help crap, Let That Sh*t Go shows people how to stop dwelling on past hurts and move on toward the bright future ahead. Take a look on Amazon here.
DAILY GRATITUDE, REFLECTING ON YESTERDAY, TODAY’S SELF-CARE, GOALS, AFFIRMATIONS: Take some time for yourself and remember the simple joys & things to be thankful for with this self gratitude journal from Amazon. Take a look here.
MENTAL HEALTH JOURNAL:This journal will help you to identify your day-to-day stressors so that you can work on an effective plan to resolve the problem, reduce stress, control triggers and improve your overall mental health and well-being. Take a look on Amazon here.
Please note that although I use journals myself from Amazon, I am currently part of their associate program and as such my recieve a small commission on any qualifying purchases.