Journaling for Self-Care
With the world feeling like it is in a constant state of turmoil, I really wanted to talk about journaling for self-care today. I believe that keeping a journal is a really useful tool in dealing with the daily demands of life, along with celebrating the good moments too of course.
In this blog post, I am going to share some of my favourite ways that I use my journal to help with self-care. I really hope you find this helpful in giving you some ideas for your own journal too.
Reflecting on and Accepting Change
In the journal page above, I wrote about all the change going on in my life. Sometimes, things can feel quite over-whelming and it's only by getting those thoughts out onto paper that I can start to get a better perspective on things. I reflected on the changes going on around me and the need to accept change, rather than trying to fight it. It definitely feels hard with the amount of changes we have all experienced over the last few years, but accepting the things you can't change can help to bring a sense of peace, enabling you to have more energy to deal with the things you can change.
I feel like this is something I go on about all the time, but it's a really key part of my journaling routine. Every evening, without fail, I write down at least one line of things I am grateful for. If you've had a tough day and the news is full of depressing stories, I think it's really important to break that cycle and focus your mind elsewhere. On really hard days, I think it's even more important.
If I'm struggling for something to write, I let my mind wander back through the day and try just to focus on the good bits for a few minutes. It could be that first cup of coffee, a tv programme that made me laugh, a sweet message from a friend, cuddling my dog, a ray of sunhine coming through onto my desk, having books to read, my relationships with others or a tasty meal. It doesn't mean the difficult things didn't happen, but it starts to balance those things alongside the good. Keeping a gratitude journal helps me to look out for good things throughout the day too and has really helped me to maintain a more positive attitude.
Be Proud Pages
Another topic I feel like I'm always mentioning is being proud of yourself. It's far easier to be hard on yourself and think about all the things you haven't got done or feel you messed up on. Using your journal to reflect on things you have done well can really help with this. I complete mine at the same as my gratitude journal every evening. I look back through my day and take a few minutes to celebrate the things I did do. These don't have to be big things, and they rarely are, but more likely the little things we do each day that easily go unnoticed. Being your own cheerleader is a really great step in building your self-esteem.
I recently shared a tutorial for this page over on Patreon and it was so therapeutic. I started off by absolutely covering my pages with writing down every negative thought, worry, fear and basically anything that was rattling around in my head. It felt wonderful to get it all out. I then gradually built up lots of layers of gorgeous paint, eventually covering up all of that writing. I added a thin layer of gesso, in which I scratched out some more positive words, which you might be able to see a hint of in this picture. I finished off with some stencilling, decoration and a positive quote. It's a really wonderful way of venting privately and knowing it has become a personal and private part of your art journal pages.
Each month, I set up a habit tracker in my journal. I am thoughtful about the types of habits that I know will make me feel good if I carry them out regularly. Some of the constants for me are healthy eating, exercise, tidying, good sleep and drinking plenty of water. I then try to carry these out on as many days a possible throughout the month, recording my progress by adding 3 diagonal lines each day. At the end of the month, I look for any big gaps and put plans in place to improve on those areas during the following month. Occasionally I change the things I am tracking, to hopefully keep improving the level of self-care I am offering myself.
Closely linked to my habit tracker is my mood tracker. When I am regularly carrying out good habits, my mood tends to be better and I can often find a clear link between these two tracker pages in my journal. It gives a really useful picture by the end of the month as to how things are going for you. In the free printables section on my website you can find both habit and mood trackers ready for you to use.
This is quite a simple one, but keeping a daily journal is a really great way to objectively reflect on your day. Sometimes, when I think I'm having a "bad week", I look back through my journal entries and realise I've already forgotten some of the good bits. Unfortunately our minds are wired to focus on the bad things (ancient survival skills) causing us to get a skewed sense of reality. I also use this journal to add some creative elements which I find hugely relaxing. Spending a few minutes adding stickers, washi tape and a splash of watercolour is a great way to focus your mind in a completely different way.
Make it Tactile
In the same way that stroking your pet can help to calm your nerves, adding tactile elements to your journal pages can really help too. I often add fabric, lace and other interesting elements to my pages. I love gently running my fingers across the page enabling me to experience my journal in a completely different way. This might sound strange, but I find it a really comforting part of journaling.
Hold on Tight to Those Dreams
When life gets tough, it's really easy to slip into survival mode and forget all those dreams and aspirations you have. Journaling about them can help to keep them forefront in your mind and ensure that you take little steps towards them each day. I like to let my mind travel to wherever it fancies and then bring those thoughts back onto my pages. It's so important to dream and hold onto all those hopes tightly.
I really hope you've enjoyed this blog post and that you find some ways to improve your self-care through your journal pages. If you are interested in more tutorials and videos, I would of course love to see you over in my Patreon Journaling Club. Take good care of yourself, Helen x