I tend to write each morning in a journal, releasing thoughts, feelings, the happenings of the previous day, plus any dreams I’ve remembered upon waking up. I completely believe this helps my mental health by doing so.
I watched a film a few months ago about Fred Rogers (played by Tom Hanks), and one of his quotes struck me:
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”
I’ll admit, there have been many times I’ve had feelings or thoughts I don’t want to mention to others for fear about what they might think of me. I’ve always tried to present myself as capable, steadfast, and calm while underneath I’m anything but. Even here, on this blog, I’m only beginning to open up about some things. Perhaps I’ll be more open in the future, which is what I want – a space to talk about mental health and find ways of coping. Writing a journal is, to me, just one of those ways.
I picked up a book a little while ago about “The Artist’s Way”. I’m still working through it, but one of the things I’ve taken from it so far is writing three pages everyday. Free writing. Whatever comes to mind. As someone who had infrequently journalled before but absolutely loved it as a teenager, I thought – hey, this sounds like a great idea to jump back into the journaling game. Plus, I had a whole load of unused journal notebooks waiting to be used (I just can’t keep away from stationery).
So that’s what I did. It was simply a matter of choosing a journal and a pen (preferably a fountain pen for stationery geeks like me, plus one that’s reusable is a must), and I started to write.
I’ve done a mixture over the last few years of journaling; free writing, gratitude journaling, that sort of thing. You can do either or, but currently I’m sticking to free writing which helps clear the air as I begin for the day.
I write about how I’m feeling, I write about my dreams (some potential book ideas included), but mostly I free-write for 2-3 pages every morning of whatever pops into my head.
To start your journey of journaling I recommend finding either an A5 or A4 lined notebook and a really nice pen – perhaps one you only use for journaling. I’ve put a few links down below to some I’ve found.
- Margaret Atwood Journal from Paperchase
- Bodleian Library Journal from Waterstones
- Bee Kind Journal from WH Smith
The great thing is you can dip in and out of your old journals on occasion and see how far you’ve come, or just read past excerpts for fun. Then just stack them on a shelf or keep them as I do, in a box under my bed.
It’s that easy to start – just get a journal and a pen or pencil, set your morning alarm a little earlier, and begin!
But – and there is a but. Morning Journaling might not be your thing and that’s ok. You could leave it to the evening and recount for the day. You can simply have a one-page-a-day journal, or just a short gratitude journal. There’s also lots of apps out there if you’re not into getting stationery and maybe want to save on paper.
Literally, the sky is the limit if you want to begin and – trust me – it certainly helps with your mental health. Even on the days you don’t want to think about situations that are triggering for you, you can always come back to it another day.
Let me know if you journal!