JOURNALING

Get It Write

Keep a journal; A private place to record your thoughts. We talk so much, but the present world doesn’t write enough. Journal – a noun and a verb. To journal is to write, and a journal is a lovely blank book filled with possibilities, Journaling. It is a useful weapon in the arsenal of wellness.

I have journaled since I was fourteen. It is wonderful; I have a map of my life. Those first journals were filled with my latest crush and my attempts to lose weight. My present journal is filled with gratitude about my husband and my boys, and of course, my latest attempt to lose weight.

You might wonder why you are writing. Who is going to read it? It helps to give yourself purpose to answer this, I journal for my future self. I write and record what is going on in the present, so that my future self can read it and think – “why was that bothering me”, or “oh yes, that work out well.” My future self is always smarter than my journaling self and this gives me strength.

Start with the journal itself. I always chose a special book. Sometimes the cover has a beautiful picture; sometimes it has an inspirational saying. Sometimes I decorate the cover. Just make the book all yours. Very often my blank journal is a gift from my husband and that makes it special.  Then choose your pen carefully. Depending on how my pen flows I write differently. Seriously – it is worth investing in a good pen. It helps the whole process.

Then choose your time to journal and make it a ritual. Make a date with yourself and keep it. Of course you have time; you just have to make the commitment. I recently started journaling in the morning. I mostly write about the upcoming day. This is excellent because I have so much to look forward to. But for years, I have journaled at the end of the day. In bed with my camomile tea, I bring out my journal and I record the day’s events. No judgement, just recording.

As well as just journaling my thoughts and events, I always do an exercise. Right now I am doing Gratitude. I write in a full sentence. “I give gratitude for…” This is the most amazing way to frame my life. Bringing into my consciousness the things that I give thanks for. I find myself, during the day, thinking about it. I think - “That was really good, I must give thanks for it when I write in my journal tonight.”

 Previously I have done other exercises such as Joy Listing. This is simply making a list of all the things in the day that brought me Joy. Again it is wonderful to frame my life as a means to bring me Joy. I always do ten. The first few are easy. Then as I get further in it becomes more of a challenge. Invariably I land upon little things. Little things that have brought me joy. Things like “my shoes fit, I can read, my pen is working.” All of a sudden I see the world around me filled with all things that bring me joy. And I feel happy. That’s the power of journaling.

If you are a doodler, this is a great opportunity to draw.

Like I said the best thing is to read back over old entries. My past self has such a different perspective to my present self. I find great strength in the fact that things change, my life is in constant movement. If I have trouble I can always think – “This too will pass.” To take it to the extreme – when I have been suicidal, I have felt there is no way out. This blackness will always be here. I can’t see to the end of the tunnel, I am trapped. But if I can just see a glimpse of light in the future… well reading back over my diary always gives me perspective that things have shifted. Movement is good.  That gives me hope that things will be different and better in the future.

So like I said I now journal in the morning. I sit in my conservatory, with the heater on and I just write.  I’ve started doing what I call Free Writing. I set my alarm for 10 minutes and then I just record anything that comes into my head. I believe the mind will talk to you if you will listen. Lately as I do this, my thoughts have more colours. They are brighter. The 10 minutes passes more quickly.

Journaling makes my life seem more important. Recording it gives it reason. Just getting it onto paper give it perspective. I feel strong when I journal.

So grab a note book, get a pen. Chose a special place and start writing. It’s that simple. This is just for you. Don’t get it write, get it written.

About the Author – Kate Hull Rodgers is an expert by experience. She has been mentally ill since 1986, more than 30 years. She is diagnosed as bi polar and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) Every day she battles to be in recovery, many days she wins. She speaks in corporate workplaces with her company www.humourus.co.uk. She has spoken in 29 countries. Also she runs Stepping Stone Theatre for Mental Health www.steppingstonetheatre.co.uk with her husband, Bill- and she is still happily married. Mustn’t forget, she is the proud mother of Harvey and Dominic – and the dog, Zebbie.