Pen Heaven kindly sent me a notebook and pen with the challenge of writing my thoughts and feelings down for one month all in the hope it would improve my mental health. So, here’s what I learned along the way.
If you miss a night- that’s ok: I have tried and failed so many times to keep a journal but what I leaned through this experience is not to beat yourself up about missing a day or two. If there was nothing to write- clearly, I didn’t feel I needed to express myself this way on those days. This is often when I would stop writing in my journal because I thought I had done something wrong, but the reality is- sometimes you are too tired to write for five minutes before bed or the day hasn’t been that eventful. That’s life.
It helps you work through issues in your life: There has been a lot going on in my life at present- namely- we are hoping to move house soon- so a lot of my journal is about my worries and feelings about this transition. It has certainly helped me to navigate through the highs and the lows of the initial process of house viewings, mortgage applications and budget reviews. I strongly recommend journaling when you have something big happening in your world as it can help make sense of things when you unravel them through writing.
It’s like having a good friend to talk to every day: If you are unable to see your mates- which is typical at this time of year because everyone is so busy- this is like having someone familiar to talk to. You can say anything, and your journal won’t judge you. I always end my entry with kisses as a sign of affection for my journal. If you treat it like someone you know- you can be more candid with your entries than if you treat it as just pen and paper.
It can help you to avoid arguments and outbursts: Rather than saying what came into my head in the heat of the moment, this journal was an ideal way for me to write down any negative feelings I felt towards someone or something. It is normal to feel angry, jealous or resentful every once in a while, but often these feelings are a result of what’s happening in the present. Once I had written down my reasons for feeling this way and contemplated other points of view- by the time I was finished, those intense feelings had subsided.
It’s a great tool for new parents: Parenting is a funny business, especially if you are new to it and journaling helped me enormously in this respect. You live in perpetual worry as a new mum and writing down those worries is an excellent way to express them and to feel ‘normal’ again. I have learned that worrying is actually the marker of a good parent not a bad one because it shows you care.
It helps to wind down: Going to bed with a weight on your mind means you have a bad night’s sleep or can’t get to sleep at all. By offloading all your worries, fears, concerns and thoughts onto a page, it’s like a physical weight has been lifted from you in order to sleep more soundly. It’s certainly better for you than looking at your phone or I-Pad which I was guilty of before. Since journaling- I have found myself reaching for a book rather than my digital devices which has helped with my sleep patterns.
There is no wrong answer: You can write whatever you like in your journal and no one will get upset or fall out with you because of it. You can be totally honest and that is a refreshing feeling indeed. If you think that you can’t talk to someone else in your life about something because it may hurt their feelings- you can let it all out in your journal and your relationships remain intact. Everyone is entitled to their feelings and a journal is the best way to express them if you are worried about offending someone. Once you strip everything back- you are then in a position to talk to someone with more clarity and in a more measured way.
Has it helped my mental health? Definitely. It’s like having your own counsellor in your bedside drawer- I would urge you to try it and find out if it works for you too.
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