Currently 1 in 6 adults worldwide are currently experiencing some kind of mental health illness. In the last 18 months, during the period now known as ‘Covid’ - this number has gone up! The financial costs of the adverse effects of mental illness on people’s quality of life are estimated at £41.8 billion per annum in England.
Wider costs to the national economy in terms of welfare benefits, lost productivity at work etc. amount to some £77 billion a year. In addition, there is also the personal costs and personally, I don’t think we can measure the pain and suffering mental health brings to individuals, families, communities, and the human race as a whole.
Even without official diagnoses, many people find that they’re extremely stressed, anxious or overly worried about things.
Currently bereavement, isolation, discrimination, loss of financial income and fear are all triggering mental health conditions or heightening existing ones. Many people may be facing increased levels of isolation, alcohol and drug use, insomnia, anxiety, emotional eating, physical pain and stress related illnesses.
Anyone that knows me or follows me on social media knows I am not a fan of medication, I have found alternative ways of healing myself and I have little trust in the healthcare profession, I will always choose ‘alternative healing’, however please remember that if you have been prescribed meds, then speak to your GP / healthcare provider regarding reducing them or stopping them if you feel they aren’t supporting your current situation and you are searching for alternative healing methods. You are responsible for your own healing, after all, you are living in your body, not mine.
There are many things offered nowadays to individuals to support mental wellbeing - for me, it has been a journey of finding out what best supports me. Somethings suit me better and I have made these things a part of my daily habits for self-care.
Journaling has been a daily habit and one of the best therapies I have found to support myself in life. I personally believe that journaling has benefited my coherence of emotional, metal, physical and spiritual wellbeing. If, like me, you enjoy writing, doing something that comes more naturally might offer you bigger and more profound benefits.
Journaling is a great way to improve and support ones mental wellbeing when one is feeling overwhelmed, stressed or just feeling ‘out of sorts’.
I offer journaling courses in the community and also an online course if you can’t personally join me. Check out the courses tab here.
In the meantime, here are a few ideas that can support your mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing if you are new to journaling. Please also note that journaling is a very private practice, it’s like a meditation practice. You don’t need to be a JK Rowling or a Erik Von Däniken to journal; you just need to be honest with yourself!
Practicing Mindfulness in your journal
Many people get fed up hearing the word ‘mindfulness’ nowadays and switch off from it. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Mindfulness is a quality that every human being already possesses, it’s not something you have to conjure up, you just have to learn how to access it and journaling can help you do just that.
I am a Wellbeing and Resilience Coach and I use biofeedback tools in my daily practice with both my clients and myself. I have recorded evidence of what happens when we mindfully write, however I also know the personal benefits and how journaling has allowed me to take control and turn up in a loving, centred place rather than turning up in a place of fear based anxiety and negative thinking.
Starting a mindfulness journal can include…
Writing about your surroundings; be a part of where you are and fully connect. One of my first and most profound journaling inserts came through connecting with a daisy - wow, I learned so much about myself because I was being present.
Allowing yourself to feel present in the here and now.
‘Writing down your thoughts’ is much more cathartic than pushing your thoughts away. When you push against, it makes the situation feel worse, however when you partner with and ask yourself questions such as “what’s important to pay attention to right now, what is my highest choice?” or “what am I being asked to learn right now?” You will benefit from being honest - always be honest!
If you are using a journal for self-care and being in the present, consider buying one that feels right for you to carry on your persons as this will help you stop and just be when you have the space to do so, rather than carrying the thoughts and feelings in your body that are creating dis-ease. If you write whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious or stressed, you will find that you will stop judging yourself and will be able to let go of the negative feelings much faster. Resilience comes from being there for yourself and bouncing back quickly.
There is no right or wrong way of journaling mindfully. I journal in my car, at home, in the garden, in the park - it can be done whenever you feel you need to get those thoughts down on paper. Journaling will make a big difference to how you manage stressful situations. Be aware, if something is very stressful and you are angry, you might choose to journal in a private space rather than in your local coffee shop because I have known that tears can flow quickly once you release your thoughts. Don’t let this stop you, its good to cry as it is self soothing.
Keeping a gratitude journal
Everyday I write my gratitudes down and the more I notice I am grateful for, the more I attract more things to be grateful for! (lol - that was a mouthful hey?) I have kept a gratitude journal for many years and am known to give them as gifts. One of the best ways to preserve your mental health nowadays is to be positive. Having an ‘attitude of gratitude’ will keep you younger and you keep hold of your inner child longer! Many people tell me that it isn’t always easy to do be grateful when things seem so uncertain and fearful. One thing you could start your gratitude journal with, is being grateful that your TV has an ‘off button’! Use it and stop watching fear based programs.
There are so many wonderful things about life - look around and see the beauty.
Sometimes it is not always easy to think of the things you could be grateful for each day. I started off being grateful for 5 things each day and over the years, that list has grown considerably however don’t put pressure on yourself, you may write once or twice a week, be grateful for the ‘surprises’ and ‘unexpected; I’ve taken that for granted’ things too, such as a bed, toothbrush or a toilet!
Choosing to be more grateful can reduce stress and helps one to fight off feelings of anxiety, stress and depressive thoughts. I re-read my gratitudes and remind myself of days gone past which is a great way of picking yourself up if I need too. Reminding ourselves of everything we have to be grateful for is a fast and effective way to feel better and change our perspectives in the moment and for the rest of the day.
Intention (habit) tracking
Setting goals for yourself or wanting to change certain habits can improve your overall well-being however you can put unnecessary pressure on yourself if you don’t manage to achieve the change as fast as you wanted. Instead of calling my intentions ‘goals’ I call them ‘things to achieve’ and each day I write my intentions for that day. I will include intentions such as ‘smiling and exchanging pleasantries with others’, ‘walking over 10,000 steps’, ‘enjoying at least 20 minutes of sunshine’, or ‘grounding barefoot for 10 minutes on the grass’. Journaling can help you to accomplish those mini goals and ultimately, will change your habits in different ways.
By writing in your journal each day, you’re forming a helpful habit and this teaches discipline. I add little doodles at times and this is creative, another great habit. Journaling has became a part of my daily routine, hopefully it will become part of yours too. Journaling can boost your motivation, and re-reading your journal can help you witness in your own handwriting where you were to where you currently are. If your goal is to change your diet and lifestyle, journaling will help you keep track of it. If your goal is to track how you feel, journaling can help support your mental health as it will give you an insight as to what things can causes you to become down in the dumps. Each day I ask myself ‘what energised me today?’, ’what drained me of energy today?’ and ‘what have I learned about myself today?’
I write each morning, however I will often write in the day or before bed. We choose not to have a TV in our home so don’t get bogged down with the propaganda of the ‘programming’ being streamed via the so-called entertainment box! Switch off your TV, light a candle, play some relaxing music and write - you will feel so much better!
Read the article on Hygge here.
As you form a new habit of writing each day, your journal will start to feel like a close confidant you can tell anything to, keep your journal safe as it’s for your eyes only. Be mindful and don’t leave your journal laying about for a person of curiosity to pick up and read.
Writing helps to organise thoughts and helps one to accept their own experiences and put them in context. Basically, it allows you to see the meaning of events going on around you and create meaning in your own life.
Write with intention, write from your heart. When you do, you’ll quickly start to see how paper and pen can have an positive impact on your mental wellbeing.
With love and gratitude, always x