‘The longest relationship you will have is with yourself.’
Since reading this quote a while ago, I keep coming back to it. The statement is undeniably true, yet we aren’t taught how to have a ‘healthy’ relationship with ourselves – with our mind and our body. Instead many of us find ourselves disliking our bodies and wishing we could switch off that niggling voice in our head! In our society we aren’t encouraged to invest in ourselves – at least not in positive ways that encourage self-discovery and improve who we are as people. Rather we are encouraged to consume, to buy, to diet, to spend money to make ourselves look and feel better on the outside because that will supposedly bring us happiness and success. We are led to believe that once we have that six-figure salary or that ‘summer-ready’ body THEN we will be happy. Whilst many of us know that this isn’t true, we still find ourselves chasing these things. Lock down has forced many of us to slow down and for me this has meant practicing more self-reflection. I have been reminded of the importance of investing myself and working on having a healthy relationship with myself. To learn about who I am, what I define success as, what brings me joy, what I want my life to look like post lockdown and truly accepting who I am – flaws and all. This is where journaling has helped…
Scientific studies have shown that journaling has many benefits including improving mood, reducing stress and improve immune system functioning. For me, writing is therapeutic. It helps me to process and understand my thoughts – of which there are many! Journaling has become an integral part of my morning routine. It is where I brain dump. I will write whatever comes into my mind without editing. This can include what happened the previous day, my plans for the current day or my thoughts and feelings. I try not to think about what I am writing (I do enough thinking!) and just let it flow onto the page. I find this process helps me to filter out the random thoughts floating around in my mind and clear up my brain space for the day ahead. Sometimes I use journaling prompts such as the ones I post each morning on Instagram. Some days I journal more than once. For example, if I am feeling confused or upset, I will write about it to help make sense of my emotions. This has been so helpful – especially in lock down. It has also taught me to sit with my emotions and allow them to pass through me rather than fighting them. Journaling has helped me recognise that all emotions are valid, necessary and have value. It has helped me to understand myself better.
With an array of journaling methods, it can be difficult to know where to begin. This coupled with that overwhelming feeling of staring at a blank page or screen figuring out what to write can put people off starting at all. Ultimately, it’s about trying different methods and finding what works for you. Below I have outlined some suggestions – it is by no means a comprehensive list! I recommend setting a time each day that you will journal to help it become part of your daily routine. Also, keep a notebook and pen with you as you never know when else you may feel inspired to write or you could use the notes section on your phone whilst you’re out and about (but for me there is something magical about using pen and paper!).
Free writing is about relinquishing control and writing whatever comes into your mind without filtering or editing. Writing as though no one will read it and letting it flow on to the page – this becomes easier with practice. Your writing doesn’t have to make sense or be about anything profound. It is just about allowing the things circling around in your mind, many of which you may not realise are there, to be seen and heard.
Journaling prompts are useful since they give you a direction and a focus. Each day I post a journaling prompt on our Instagram story and they are saved to our highlights if you fancy trying these. Every month a new theme is explored through the prompts. Alternatively, type journaling prompts into google and you will be greeted with an assortment of prompts and ideas.
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Remember: there are no rules. There is no right way. Write what comes to you. Write what feels right for you. Lean into the uncomfortableness. Be weird. Be happy. Be sad. Be angry. Be rude. Be whatever you want. Be whoever you want. Just write.
I encourage all of you to pick up a pen and write – who knows where it could lead you.
With love and gratitude,