A spa day, yoga class, getting a massage – these are all lovely and relaxing things to do as a part of your self care. And they’re all external actions done with the intention of lowering your stress. How about getting to the cause of that stress? Adjusting your self care routine so it includes what’s inside can point you to what it is that’s really troubling you. Journaling can help with that.

When you feel angry about or frustrated with something don’t keep it in, let it out by writing it out. If you’re feeling anxious or afraid write it down so you can get a clearer picture of what it is that’s bothering you. The great thing about keeping a journal is that you can be brutally honest about your feelings. It’s something that’s completely yours, it’s private. It’s something you can do with yourself, for yourself, to work out your feelings.

You can journal however you want. Having a glamorous book full of empty pages to fill may get you in the mood or if simplicity is your thing a spiral bound notebook or yellow pad from the dollar store will do the trick. If you prefer to write using a tablet or phone look into free journaling apps like Day One or Diarium. Anything that you feel comfortable with and will help you to make journaling a part of your self care routine.

Don’t pressure yourself when you begin. Starting small can get you into the habit of jotting down thoughts and feelings that you are looking to work out. New habits take time to form and this is something you want to do for you so it shouldn’t feel like a dreaded chore. Consistency is key, start out easy and set a schedule you can stick with. Whatever amount of time feels good for you, for how many days a week, whether it’s every other day for 15 minutes or every day for 10, whatever you can commit to. You’ll find that as this new habit feels more natural and comfortable you’ll get in the groove and maybe even increase your days and time.

Do your journaling when it’s convenient for you, anytime when you can be alone with your thoughts. If morning is your time for you, start your day by declaring a positive affirmation. Write something simple like “Today is going to be a good day” then expand on that. If you’re anxious about an important meeting or test scheduled into your day, write down what you’re worried about and why. Clarifying your perceived fears can help you to look at them rationally and sooth your nerves.

If nighttime is your time, incorporate journaling into your pre-sleep routine. Review how your day went, expressing gratitude for what went well and letting out what ticked you off. Investigate what you can do to plan for tomorrow and set a positive intention to make it a good day.

If you’d like to start simpler, begin by writing about fond memories or things that make you happy like a favorite pet or outing. Sounds like school, doesn’t it? Well, teachers often assign personal essays so they can get to know their students better. Writing a personal essay about yourself can help you get to know you better.

As your journaling expands, you can mix it up by asking yourself “What would happen if I …” questions. This is a great method for focusing on your goals. Asking yourself what your life would look like if you accomplished them can take some of the hesitation out of getting started. It could be something like: What would happen if I started saying No to things I don’t want to do?; What would happen if I stayed off social media for a week? Writing your goals and intentions out as scenarios help to clarify what exactly it is you want to do and create a platform where you can formulate a plan how to do it.

If none of these suggestions resonate with you, you may be more comfortable giving your journal a theme like dedicating it to building a gratitude practice. Gratitude entries remind you of all the joys, no matter how small, you have to be thankful for in your life. Or maybe you want to work on building your self esteem. Make it a positivity journal where you write down everything good that happens to you and happens through you.

As you journal some uncomfortable stuff may come up and that’s OK. It’s good to get that stuff out so it doesn’t fester and grow into something bigger. Those thoughts can be corralled in your journal so you can take a look at them, see what they’re about and figure out how to tame them. If you’re working with a doctor, therapist or coach, clarifying your thoughts before meeting with them can allow you to succinctly express to them where you need help.

A journal is entirely and completely yours. Now that everyone feels compelled to share every thought all the time a journal is your opportunity to have something that is completely and wholly your own. Not something that is critiqued or scrutinized by the masses, it’s something you do for your soul, your mind and your spirit.

If you want to explore journaling as part of your self care but are having a tough time getting started or sticking to a journaling routine, a Mental Health Coach can help. They can hold you accountable to your new practice and support you through those times when it may get uncomfortable writing about your feelings. Your Coach will honor your journaling privacy and place no judgement if you choose to share what you have written with them.

For more information about how you, someone you know or someone you work with can benefit from working with a Mental Health Coach, go to our website or reach out directly to Cindy Feinberg, President of The Recovery Coach NY via phone or text at 631-921-4085, or email her at recoverycoachcindy@gmail.com

The Recovery Coach NY honors all paths to recovery and provides Individual and Family Coaching, Companions & Safe Transport, Intervention and emergency services for you and your loved ones. We have years of experience and a vast array of resources that can help those in need find their way to the life filled with joy and purpose they deserve. We come with an empathetic ear and solution-oriented actions that can begin to bring the relief you and your loved one seek.


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