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How to Journal for Your Mental Health


How to Journal for Your Mental Health
written by alexandra sirocky, holistic entrepreneur and founder of nomaste

“Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” – Rumi

Words are powerful. How you craft them together, how they sound when spoken out loud, and how they are interpreted by people is as individual an art form as each word itself. Language is one of the greatest gifts and curses to humanity because we have all the tools to communicate with others—an entire vocabulary to choose from. And yet, according to research by Brené Brown and colleagues, people only use three words on average to describe their emotions. Can you guess what they are? Happy, sad, and mad. That’s about it. Can you imagine how much falls between the cracks because we don’t know how to say what we really mean?

I recently read Brené Brown’s Atlas of the Heart, and she writes, “Language is our portal to meaning-making, connection, healing, learning, and self-awareness. Having access to the right words can open up entire universes. When we don’t have the language to talk about what we’re experiencing, our ability to make sense of what’s happening and share it with others is severely limited.”

Brené so clearly defines the importance of using effective language that it becomes inevitable to ask ourselves: if only we could speak more clearly and with precise intention, how different would the world look today?

She continues, “Without accurate language, we struggle to get the help we need, we don’t always regulate or manage our emotions and experiences in a way that allows us to move through them productively, and our self-awareness is diminished.”

Communication is hard. Telling people what you mean sometimes can feel like an insurmountable feat when we don’t have the skill of being in touch with our words. You know those moments—the ones where we’re in the middle of an argument or a heated conversation and you look over at the other person and think, “Hello?? Where’s the misfire here?” Life can feel out of our control at times, but we do have the power to control our reaction to how life unfolds. It’s important to remember that even when it doesn’t feel like it—life is happening for us, not to us. Our minds can easily follow chaos and go into states of anxiety, stress, or depression when things don’t go our way, or unexpected disturbances pop up out of nowhere and ruin our plans. It’s also innately difficult for the mind to stay in the present moment and remain neutral, even throughout the chaos, and not give into that push-pull dynamic or judgment.  

Train your mind and turn to your words.  

journals

I’m such a firm believer that sometimes all we need to do is write and get the thoughts out of our heads and onto the paper. If you don’t like to write by hand in a journal, you can draw, or even type an entry on your computer instead. Last year, I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and she mentions the importance of a daily journaling practice for creatives. She calls these “Morning Pages,” and they have become a staple in my daily routine and the routine of people all over the world. If you have a creative spirit — or are looking to cultivate that side of yourself, get the book, read it, and enjoy. You won’t regret it. 

It is now widely accepted that journaling has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety. It can also help with recovery from trauma, boost our immune system, and improve our memory function. Make journaling a habit and see how it impacts your own mental health. Come to the table (so to speak) with an intention about where you want to start and then let the words come freely. Follow the flow and let go of any expectations. There can be immensely impactful self-discovery when you let the words take over and push the mind out of the way. The journey to building better mental health can be long and tiresome, but don’t give up. Stay with the practice for a solid 30 days and then go back, reread, and reflect on your journal entries. There will be so much hidden between the lines just waiting for you to discover. See what topics come up for you over and over, and begin to see the patterns in your life.

For me, writing is a form of therapy and many of my friends know that I’m a bit excessive when it comes to how I use my journals. Find a journal or notebook that has daily prompts or better yet, compile your own and mark them at the top of each page to give you daily inspiration on where to start your entry. On a lazy Sunday, get that pen to the paper and brain dump a bunch of ideas for prompts so you have a stockpile ready for your nice, new journal. Self-awareness stems from consistency and that consistency builds your character, promotes self-reflection, and improves your mental wellbeing. Stay consistent with your journal practice and just see what happens. No expectations, just bearing witness to the power of your own words. 

Here are some journaling tips to get you started:

  • Buy yourself a journal that really speaks to you. We’re more likely to pick it up on a regular basis if we love it. 
  • Make your Morning Pages the first thing you do when you wake up.
  • Write three gratitudes each day.
  • Order a set of your favorite pens or colored markers to use only when you do your journal entries.
  • Keep a pocket notebook with you in your bag or purse for when you’re on the move.
  • Track your cycle with a small pocket notebook.
  • Create an ambiance that makes journaling a special ritual that you look forward to. Light a candle, burn incense, or play music if it helps you write freely.

Remember, a regular journal practice doesn’t have to be intimidating. You can write one sentence in a small notebook and it still counts as journaling. Take the pressure off yourself and just start. Your heart’s most inner hopes are waiting. Go find that gold.

 

About Alexandra 

Alexandra Sirocky

NOMaste was founded in 2013 by Alexandra Sirocky, a holistic entrepreneur who embraces a simple approach to living a balanced lifestyle. As a yoga instructor, sound therapist, holistic health coach, retreat leader, artist, photographer, micro-blogger and freelance content curator, her true passion is educating her clients on the importance of SIMPLE self-care. Embracing her mission to “heal yourself, heal the planet,” Alexandra dedicates her work to inspiring a greater sense of global community in service to living in symbiosis.

Follow her on Instagram @nomyogi


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