GOOD DAY, LOVELY READERS!
Can you believe the first week of March is over? I hate it when people express sentiments like that but I truly am flabbergasted at the rate that time is flying. I hope you are all doing well, and that the South Africans reading this are surviving the first test series of the year. I’m really struggling to get through this month, especially with all the studying and the turn of the season (I tend to get sick at the slightest mention of colder weather). Are you going through a tough month too? Do you have any study tips for me? Email me! You can also comment below or hit me up on Instagram or Facebook.
Okay so, enough sneaky promo hints, it’s time to get to the point:
JOURNALING FOR ANXIETY AND/OR DEPRESSION
As some of you may have noticed, I briefly mentioned taking a little break, exploring mindfulness and going through some stress in my previous post. I decided to spend some time on this topic since my life is just absolutely crazy at the moment, and I feel like I need to be reminded that I have good ways of coping with all of this stress. So, this post is as much for you as it is for me.
UNPOPULAR OPINION: Mental health is totally overlooked, and just as (if not more) important as physical health.
About three months ago I started struggling with anxiety and depressive episodes, and I forced myself to start journaling seriously because I needed some way of analysing my thoughts to see what the problem was. I had kept journals before, but never seriously. I guess I always felt like a total idiot because I was writing about my day in this book as if I was talking to someone. It just made me feel crazy and unbalanced and utterly immature.
SO HOW DID I START JOURNALING SERIOUSLY?
This may seem so obvious but, I bought a journal.
We’ve all seen the scene in Eat, Pray, Love where Julia Roberts tells the joke about the guy and the lottery ticket. You know, this one:
“There is a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man, who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint, begging ‘Dear Saint, please, please, please let me win the lottery.’ Finally, the exasperated statue comes to life and looks down at the begging man, and says ‘My son, please, please, please buy a ticket.
Well, the journal is my lottery ticket. Before, I always just wrote in an old notebook or something. It wasn’t until I got my butt in the CNA and picked out a really overpriced leather journal that I was able to say “This is your purpose, little one. I dub thee Journal.” So, I’m not saying you should waste your money and support consumerism, but having a book specifically devoted to journaling really helps. You can use a cheap A5 notebook too. Whatever suits your fancy (and your wallet).
My second biggest tip is:
DON’T FOLLOW JOURNAL PROMPTS
Admit it. We have all been there. You know, scrolling down Pinterest and seeing things like “10 Best Anxiety Journal Prompts” or “March Journal Prompts for Creatives”.
Don’t. Just, Don’t.
I’m not saying they all suck, and if journal prompts work for you then go for it. But honestly, giving someone with anxiety a numbered list of things they should do is just going to add stress and undo any help your prompts may have given. I find that it helps me more not to follow any rules or set structures. I like to just write about my day, how I felt, what I did that I remember, things I thought about, enjoyed, hated. Things that made me anxious is also a topic that largely features in my journal. It’s just a way of documenting what happened so you can look back at your emotions and reactions to analyse your situation.
What’s that Pretty Little Liars scene? “You need to take a psychological selfie right now.” This is exactly what journaling is. It’s like taking a selfie of your mind
So, here is my last piece of advice to all anxiety journalers:
YOU DON’T HAVE TO JOURNAL EVERY DAY
Once you accept your journal as a free, safe space, you’ll realise that you don’t have to journal every day. I used to feel really bad when I had skipped journaling, but honestly, it’s okay to be too tired or too busy or too lazy to journal. You do you, boo. If something traumatic happens, don’t feel obligated to write about it. It helps, but it’s not necessary. There are periods where I don’t journal for a whole month. The key is to just pick up where you left off, like a long distance friendship.
I can promise you that after about two months, your journal will feel like your best friend.
Also, if it doesn’t, that’s cool too. You don’t have to pressure yourself into doing anything, and if journaling isn’t for you, let it go my friend.
‘Kay so that’s all for now. I hope this helped you guys a little. I wish I had read a post like this when I was just starting out so I hope it is of use to someone out there. If you are struggling with anxiety, journaling or life in general, let’s get in touch! My social media links are all over the place, and my Email is on my About Me page. Did this post help you? Comment below and tell me about your experiences.
I HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU SOON!