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Journalling and Self Care for You

Amanda Coen

So What's Journaling?

I imagine that you have made it here already knowing what is is. Just for clarity we'll say 'Journaling' or creating a 'mindfulness journal', is the daily practice of expressing yourself in the form of writing. It is private and is very much like a diary that focuses on the inner life. Self care. The purpose is to support you and help you improve your life by guiding yourself in a positive direction for a healthy life.

By writing things down you somehow distance yourself a little from the often tumultuous workings of your mind so that you can observe yourself and see things you may not normally be able to see. It is unlike a 'planner' style diary which just lists things you have to do, intend to do and what you have done.

Journaling is personal and for your eyes only. It is a means of self care. You can choose to destroy it afterwards. You could choose to destroy it immediately afterwards if you like because the very act of putting your thoughts, emotions, worries or gratitude etc down on paper has a therapeutic affect. The value is not found necessarily in the analysis of the writing.

Does Journaling Cost Much?

The mindfulness journal itself doesn't have to be something very fancy. Your personality and individuality can decide that. Many people like to write in a purpose made jotter or note book and some of them even have daily prompts to inspire you. You don't have to buy anything to start. You just need a pen and a bit of paper. You could do it on a napkin.

I would suggest you protect your privacy by finding a way of storing your writing privately and safely so perhaps if you write on sheets of paper or napkins etc then a folder or a box with a lid, would be a help.

If you can it is nice to have a journal that appeals to you. You can buy a pretty one or create one out of a copy book or notebook adorned with pictures and stickers and other bits and pieces you like. Anything that inspires you to sit down and write in it. It becomes a private extension of you.

Some People Think Journaling is a Fad

Some people tut-tut about it or feel cynical about journaling and all other mindfulness activities and subjects as they think it is a fad concocted by the commercial industry as a money spinner.

In fact journaling has been around for a very long time and was never about money. The commercial world will always jump on a trend to capitalise on it. It doesn't destroy the value of the journaling practice however.

I used to practice journaling a lot when I was younger as a self care approach in an attempt to make sense of things that were or weren't happening in my life and other things that I was stressed about. I wrote through my school and teenage years and later in my twenties. I let it peter out through my thirties and then I stopped more or less.
The use of a mindfulness journal was not described like that then. We called it, 'writing a diary'. I would say that we understand the impact of mindfulness, self care and the positive impact journals have, better these days, so perhaps we are a little better equipped to help ourselves.

I Burned My Journals

I actually kept all of my journals. I have in fact just recently been able to part with them. It was a big deal to me. I burned most of them. (I have kept one to have a look over but I will probably do the same the next time I come across it.) Not in a ritualistic way but I have to say I feel good for having let them go.

I had a quick look through the writing and realised that I have in fact worked out quite a lot of the issues over time. Other parts are excruciatingly embarrassing because they were full of thoughts feelings and insecurities, I had then, that bare no relation to who I am now. There was a lot about boys and sex or the lack there off and petty jealousies and descriptive passages about all sorts of strange goings on in my young head.

'Self Care'? What was that?

I had no clue about self care then. The concept I mean. The notion of protecting yourself emotionally wasn't a thing. My notes were usually about problems only and not about the good aspects and gratitude and pursuing the good things.

I didn't understand that having compassion for yourself could help or that self belief could make such a difference. You don't need to wait for permission or approval to be yourself and do what you know in your heart is the best thing to do. This would have helped more I think, but at least it was something.

The younger descriptions sounded like I had stepped out of a very stilted Enid Blyton novel. There were idyllic scenarios and pretty adjectives everywhere. 'We skipped off the bus happily one by one...' etc. (Excerpt from a fourteen year old's diary on a school trip.) These notes were not really created with a self care approach but more in a romantic way of writing a diary. We read about keeping diaries in books. It was also a way of holding on to things you didn't want to forget...

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