Updated: Jan 18
Self-care is a hot, hot topic right now for a good reason -- it is how we take care of ourselves in times of stress.
And with all the stress these days, we could all use a little more self-care, right?
One of my favorite self-care activities that takes a huge chunk out of my stress is my journaling practice.
Through the simple act of taking the thoughts, worries, questions, concerns, and complaints out of my head and putting them down on paper, I am lighter. I no longer need to carry these things with me once I have turned them over to the care and keeping of my journal.
Journaling helps me identify what I think and feel about things. The very act of writing by hand slows my thoughts and allows me to go both wider and deeper into my consciousness to pull out the nuggets I can't find through thinking alone. It literally helps me discover who I am deep inside.
In my journal, I am free to hash out different perspectives on whatever is stressing me as I try to see it in different lights. It's like trying on outfits with no pressure to buy.
Journaling helps me discover what is really true, instead of what just feels true. I use my words like a shovel to keep digging and digging until I find my truth.
There is nothing to get lost when my words go right onto the paper, unlike my thoughts which seem to slip away in an instant when they roll around inside my head.
Writing in my journal feels solid to me. It is the perfect antidote to stress.
Journaling Sparks for Self-Care
The most important thing I want you to know about journaling is that there is no one 'right way' to journal which means you can't do it wrong. The act of journaling is as personal as the words you put down on the page. YOU get to decide.
Settle in with your notebook and try some of these writing sparks for self-care:
Set a timer for 5-minutes. Write down absolutely everything that comes to your mind until the timer goes off, even if it's the thought "I don't know what to write." Empty your mind onto the page. No thought is too small or too big. When the timer goes off, stop writing, close your notebook and take three deep breaths.
If you've got something specific on your mind, journal about it for 5-minutes. When you're done, take a clean sheet of paper and draw a line down the center from top to bottom. On one side write "True" and on the other write "Feels True." Go back to your journaling and pull out the thoughts one by one. For each thought, rewrite it in one of the two columns. Each thought goes in the "True" column if it is 100% fact ("I am a teacher with 27 students") or in the "Feels True" column if it isn't 100%-can-be-proven-in-a-court-of-law fact. ("I will eventually get Covid.") You will hopefully see that sometimes we get hung up on things that feel true, but that might not be.
Pretend your best friend came to you stressed out over the exact same thing you are stressed about right now. What advice would you offer? Tell yourself the words you need to hear in your journal.