Journal, It’s Good For Your Health

How Journaling Helps?

It’s not always easy to identify what’s causing you to feel anxious and stressed. Although in today’s climate, just turning on the television can be a catalyst. Amid a global pandemic and the increase in nationwide violence, it’s easy to understand why we might feel a little more anxious and stressed these days.

Journaling is a healthy way to organize your thoughts and feelings. It can reduce stress and assist with managing anxiety. Used as a coping strategy for depression and mood stabilization, it may help to reveal triggers and open the door to figuring out useful ways to avoid them.

 It is also an effective tool to help work through the stages of grief after the death of a pet or a loved one. Feelings can often become erratic and overwhelming when dealing with such loss.

Through journaling, you may also be able to identify common issues or themes that need to be addressed by a counselor or therapist. 

Journaling is a healthy mental exercise for your brain. Writers use journaling to stimulate creativity and stave off writer’s block. Just grab a notebook and a pen or pencil to get yourself started. Whether you journal in the morning or the evening, it’s a mentally productive addition to your daily routine. 

Types of Journaling

Gratitude Journaling

Writing down what you are grateful for is always a good practice. However, during times of stress and emotional turmoil, it can provide a good distraction. You can do it in the form of a bulleted list or just write paragraphs expanding on all that you have to be grateful for. 

Visual Journaling

This type of journal combines pictures with words. Images can be drawn or clipped from a magazine. Creating a visual representation of what you are journaling about has been shown to reduce stress and ease anxiety.

Stream of Consciousness Journaling

I find this type of journaling very effective. You don’t have to worry about punctuation or grammar. You don’t even have to write in complete sentences. Simply write down whatever comes into your mind. Be sure to have a lot of paper handy because once the stream starts flowing, you want to minimize distractions. You will surprise yourself at how much you can purge through this type of journaling.

Unsent Letter Journaling

This method is particularly effective for anger. It allows you to get thoughts and feelings down on paper in a safe way. Ultimately it’s up to you whether you want to send the letter, but it’s essential to write it as if you have no intention of sending it. Write down anything and everything that you have always wanted to say but didn’t dare. If it makes you feel better, you can shred it when you are done, but this exercise is especially cathartic.

Intuition Journaling

Sometimes we lose touch with our intuition or what our gut is telling us. It is especially true in relationships where there may be emotional abuse or gaslighting going on. If you are repeatedly told you are crazy or you are useless, this starts to become your truth. You stop listening to your intuition, and that can be dangerous.

Start by writing down a question such as, “Is this relationship worth fighting for?” Then sit with it for a while and see what your gut tells you. Relearn how to hear your intuition and listen to it.

Getting Started

  • Set aside quiet time in your day to write in your journal
  • Let journal time be YOUR time, just relax and enjoy the outlet
  • Remember, you don’t have to share your journal with anyone unless you choose to
  • Get to know yourself through your journal
  • Watch for patterns of negative or self-defeating talk

Types of Journals

There are many types of journals to choose from, right down to a spiral-bound notebook. My favorite is the Moleskin brand, it has a quality feel to the cover and they make both lined and unlined journals.  The Strategist just published The Best Notebooks on Amazon According to Hyperenthusiastic Reviewers in May, so I am going to refer you to that as it seems to be a pretty comprehensive list. No need to reinvent the wheel.

A Final Word

I’m a fan of journaling and mental health awareness. Life isn’t easy; it takes work to keep your ducks from running amuck. Journaling is one small tool you can use to keep your thoughts organized and visible. Writing down thoughts and feelings frees up space in your mind, can increase your focus, and helps to troubleshoot what might be holding you back. Give it a try; what do you have to lose?

5 Hacks to Get Out of Your Head Now

“Every time I turn around, there I am.” A quote from an episode of Ozark I watched last night.

Some days I couldn’t get out of my own way if my life depended on it. I am buried so deep inside my own head that I can perform my entire morning routine and not recall a single thing I did.

Most often, when I am that deep inside my mind, it is worry based. I tend to perseverate about things that worry me and, that isn’t mentally or physically healthy.

Some of the benefits of mindfulness include: decreased stress, increased self-acceptance, increased resilience, and increased concentration.

Mindfulness Amidst the COVID 19 Pandemic

According to Mindful.org mindfulness, is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing and, not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on.

With the current state of our country and the constant barrage of stressful information circulating amidst the COVID 19 pandemic, it can be pretty enticing to stay in your head. But honestly, being mindful doesn’t mean you have to absorb all that information.

Listen to what you need to know, enough to be aware and proactive then, move on. Moving on to being mindful and in the moment will help curb some of the overwhelm that can consume us during times like these.

5 Ways to Get Out of Your Head

  1. Narrative

One great way to get out of your head and into your surroundings is to narrate what you are seeing. Give a narration as if you were describing your surroundings to someone who was visually impaired. If you were at a park, it would sound something like this:

“There is a sprawling Magnolia Tree in the middle of the park. There must be fifty Magnolia in full bloom. The contrast of the cream-colored blooms against the canvas of dark green leaves is breathtaking.”

Exchanging the ongoing narrative in your head with a vivid description of what you see is a wonderful way to bring your mind front and center.

2. Small Finger Movements with a Short Mantra

Small finger movements, coupled with a short mantra, is very helpful in centering your mind and regulating your breathing. The one I like to use is, “I am peace and peace is me.” The finger movements are like this:

  • Thumb to pinky finger and say “I”
  • Thumb to ring finger “am”
  • Thumb to middle finger “peace”
  • Thumb to index finger “and”
  • Thumb to middle finger “peace”
  • Thumb to ring finger “is”
  • Thumb to pinky finger “me”

You can use this one or create one that is more meaningful to you.

3. Count Your Steps

Yes, it is as simple as it sounds. Simply count your steps. Obviously, if you do five thousand steps a day, you won’t want to count all of them but, if you break them down into blocks of ten or so, it can bring you out of the depths of your mind and into the present.

4. Listen to an Audio Book or PodCast

Introducing another voice into your head helps quiet your own. Find something that interests you and dive in. Put it on in your car or listen to one at home while you are cooking dinner, cleaning, or just trying to relax your mind. It works.

5. Focus on your breathing

Breathing is something we do all day, every day. It’s rhythmical, it’s relaxing, and it can be one of the most calming things we do when it is under control. If I am at home and can lay down I like to put something small and flat on my stomach, just over my belly button.

Use something that has enough weight that you can feel it rise and fall with your breathing. The best thing that comes to mind is a bar of soap that is still in the package (not a wet slimy one).

Breathe in through your mouth and out through your nose. Focus on the rise and fall of your stomach, you will notice that with just a few breaths you become totally focused on your breathing. When thoughts enter into your mind just re-focus on your breathing and they will float away.

So there you have them, five quick ways to get out of your head and more focused on living your life. I find that ruminating on things has become a habit for me over the years and it takes a good amount of focus to stay mindful throughout the day.

Using these techniques has helped a lot and I hope that you find them helpful as well. Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. I would love to hear from you.