May is Mental Health Awareness Month – this week I’m sharing one thing I do for myself every single day to hold on to my sanity.
I’ve talked publicly about my personal struggle with postpartum anxiety – it was rough.. like the roughest thing I’d ever gone thru. I’d never experienced that feeling of uncontrollable worry. And nothing made it stop –
I tried everything – and in full disclosure, I’m still on meds to help – but I found a few things I could do that would help me control the anxiety, instead of the anxiety controlling me.
One is exercise – particularly running, the other – Journaling.
Journaling gave me a place to put worries down on paper, and most of the time when I saw them written I was able to distinguish reality from anxiety – but it also allowed me to see the positive. I’ll never forget the first time I journaled. It started out angry and scared, and ended with all of the things I had to look forward to – and that’s what it became to me.
I created a habit of writing in the morning and the evening – and I’ve changed what I’ve written as my needs have changed, but two things have never changed… The first thing I write down when I wake up is what I’m thankful for. The last thing I write down before I go to sleep is something that was wonderful about the day.
I have 5 Easy Steps to Creating the Habit of Journaling that anyone can do – you don’t need a fancy journal, you don’t need hours of uninterrupted time (what mom has that), all you need is your phone and a prompt!
5 Easy Steps to Create a Journaling Habit
- Set your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier than usual: This is all you need to add journaling to your everyday routine. You’ll never miss those 15 minutes of sleep, but they can make a big difference in your day!
- NO SOCIAL MEDIA, EMAIL, or TV (yet) : When we consume social media or any other type of media, we are shaped by the tone. If we see someone on social media who just got the brand new car we were hoping for, but it just doesn’t look like this is our year – it can take away from our gratitude of what we do have. Don’t consume – yet!
- Pour yourself your morning drink, whatever it is : I don’t understand non coffee drinkers, but I know you’re out there.. so whatever it is you drink first thing in the morning – pour it.
- Find a cozy, quiet spot : I usually plop on the couch with a blanket… whatever spot you feel comfy in, get there!
- Set your timer on your phone for 15 minutes & follow a journaling prompt, sheet, or free write : I’ve done all of these.. I’m not great at free writing – I’m kind of like Lorelai when she tries to write Luke’s character reference.. Monkey Monkey Underpants (if you don’t watch Gilmore girls, I’m truly sorry for you). But I love journaling prompts and sheets.
Sticking to this habit helps me start my day in the right head space, I’m more likely to have positive attitude. . . just ask my husband or teenager – they can tell if I actually journaled in the morning or not..
This is a habit you have to be committed to creating though – my toddler has started getting up early, and at first I used it as an excuse not to journal.. I mean how can I handle my two year old and focus on this too – but it was just that. An excuse.
I could tell a difference in my day when I wasn’t prioritizing this habit – so we started a new habit. Now, I grab his milk (his morning drink), a morning snack, & let him watch Doc McStuffins (I don’t think Doc is the same thing as consuming social media, so I let that one slide). . . he and I cuddle up in my spot on the couch, I journal – he gets Doc – it’s a win win.
At the end of the day – I do something similar.. just to decompress from the day, and to take a few minutes to myself!
- Set an alarm for 15 minutes before you want to head to bed : Even if you don’t have a set “bed time”, setting a reminder to take a few minutes to journal the day will keep you in check.
- Take care of your night time routine : Whatever this looks like for you, for me – wash my face, brush my teeth, plug in my devices, put on jammies..
- NO MORE SOCIAL MEDIA : Just like there has to be a time we aren’t consuming in the morning, I don’t consume right before bed either. I know some people don’t even bring their devices to their bedroom – but it’s the only phone we have in the house, so that’s not an option. I do have my phone set to “down time”.. only select contacts can get thru, and certain apps won’t work.
- Use lower lighting : Turn off the overheads – we have sconces, you may have lamps.. but turning lights down will signal to your body it’s time to calm down.
- Get cozy & write : follow your prompt, sheet, or free write.. end your day with positive reminders of what went right. Especially helpful if you are like me and lay down at night with a list of things to worry about!
That’s it – 5 steps for morning & evening you can create habits of journaling! Let me know how it goes for you – if you already journal share with me your favorite journals & habits!