Lifestyle

I began journaling for a month, and here’s what I learned…

Two years ago I began my mental health journey, once I was diagnosed with bi polar depression and anxiety I felt more in control. I felt that there was finally a light at the end of that never ending tunnel. My therapist suggested I should start keeping a journal, to keep track of my emotions. It reminded me of my younger self, and how I loved keeping a diary. I found that in my loneliest, saddest moments keeping a journal helped release some of that tension; it was therapy in itself. I could say whatever I felt and with each word a part of me felt less alone. So years later, once adulthood was in full effect, I began a mood journal, and wrote down every emotion or experience I had for that day. The good, the bad and the ugly; writing with no filter became a mirror for me and showed me the areas I need to work on. Sometimes we find ourselves not being able to speak about our day to day lives in full with others, you don’t think someone cares about the things in your head because they have their own problems. I thought I would forget to even write in it, but after a few days I noticed whenever I was emotionally triggered it became my go to. In the beginning it showed the pain I felt, the burdens I carried for so long. It made me realize I complained too much, I always focused on the stress instead of the many things i had to be grateful for. It allowed me to begin to heal. In fact, a study showed that expressive writing (like journaling) for only 15- 20 min over the course of a 4 month period, was enough to lower blood pressure and improve liver functionality. I began to look at things differently, became more understanding with my children and husband. I felt I was able to communicate easier, because the words weren’t just floating up in my head anymore. Some people use social media as their diaries, and even though you feel other people reaching out, I don’t find it as effective. Most of the problems we have are internal and should be worked on instead of ignored. There’s something so therapeutic when your words and thoughts touch paper, it’s a release. I noticed I wasn’t very kind to myself, that most of those emotions were trauma based and not factual. The way we speak to ourselves is the way others speak to us as well, I noticed I was held back by my fear of things that never happened. My anxiety has always crippled me into fearing the worst, taking away from the beautiful things that happen each day. Journaling made me realize how many touching moments I had in a day or week, it made me see how many people love me. I would write about the nice person who gave me a seat on the subway, or the nice message I got from a friend. It became a gratitude list in itself, it’s normal to look at the bad things that happen in a day but we often forget the good. The journal became a story of growth, it showed how I viewed things when i started the journal and how i look at things now. And what began as a self help exercise became a daily routine, because writing gave me a new sense of direction and I didn’t feel so hopeless anymore. I realized my emotions do not control me, I control my emotions. For many people who don’t have the time or money for therapy, or for those who don’t feel comfortable talking to a stranger; journaling is a great way to channel those emotions and thoughts in a constructive way. Have you ever kept a journal or diary? How did it make you feel? I highly suggest journaling; instead of watching tv or scrolling on your phone, at bedtime as a good way to unwind and de stress.

NYC based Blogger and Podcast Host, Advocate for Empowement and Mental Health Awareness

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