It’s a very cold and snowy winter day in Toronto after an incredibly hard week. I honestly don’t think I’ve seen an ounce of sunshine in about 7 days, and I feel really tired, regardless of the 8 hours of sleep I just had. Sometimes, the way we feel doesn’t make much sense, but we know it’s real. We walk around in this brain fog all day, and no matter how much we need to get done, nothing gets done, and we don’t honestly seem to care.
When moments like this arise (and they do), I tend to get very overwhelmed and anxious. So, before I get even more in my head about things, I try to change my focus. It’s taken most of my life to figure out and realize that when I begin on this hamster wheel, it’s honestly just my mind and body trying to tell me to slow down and pay attention to what I need. We may think we don’t know what that is, but if you take a moment in silence to just breathe and reflect, you'll often know exactly what it is you need—me time!
When I begin feeling like this, all I want to do is write. Yes, I know, I write all the time, but what I mean is just writing for myself—like journaling.
Over the years, journaling has been a lifesaver for me when it comes to managing my anxiety and depression. I’ve loved writing since I was a little girl, but I did it for fun. Little did I realize that the day would come when I would turn to writing for the therapeutic benefits it could have on my mental health on days when I was really struggling.
I’ve found that journaling is an excellent way to get my feelings out when I can’t talk to anyone for fear of being judged. It’s a safe space where I can express my deepest, darkest, saddest, and downright ugly thoughts and emotions without any fear of judgement or criticism. When I’m feeling anxious or depressed, it’s easy for my mind to get caught up in a spiral of negative thoughts and self-doubt. Journaling has helped me to break that cycle and gain some perspective on my thoughts and feelings.
When I write things down, I am able to process them in a way that I couldn’t when they were just swirling around in my head. Putting my thoughts and feelings on paper allows me to distance myself from them and see them more objectively. It makes all the noise stop and sometimes even go away for a while.
I also find that journaling is a great way to track my progress and see how far I’ve come. When I go back and read my journal entries from a few weeks or months ago, it’s amazing to see how much I’ve grown and how much my perspective has changed. Over the past year, I can honestly say that the way I speak and write to myself is so different than it has been in a long time. There is so much forgiveness, love, and compassion present. I now give myself grace for everything while still holding myself accountable. I don't think I could have ever seen that growth without the visible signs that journaling has allowed me.
Journaling has also helped me identify patterns and triggers that I may not have noticed before. I’ve been able to identify certain situations or people that make my anxiety and depression worse and take steps to avoid them. Now, by avoiding them, I don't mean that I sweep hard situations under the rug or that I don't bother being accountable with people; it means that I now pick and choose my battles. I use my voice to stand up for myself in situations or circumstances that need to be addressed. If the matter cannot be resolved, or if an individual cannot respect my space, boundaries, or feelings, then they are eliminated. These days, it's as simple as that! My peace has become the single most important thing in my life, and it comes at a high price that I am more than happy to pay for.
If you’re struggling with anxiety and depression, I highly recommend giving journaling a try. It’s a simple and effective way to get your feelings out and start making progress on your mental health journey. Just grab a notebook and a pen and start writing. It is honestly that easy, so don't overthink it or make it complicated. It doesn't have to be. The more we make things seem like a chore, the more we will find ways to avoid doing them or make excuses for why we can't. So, make it a habit. Make it something you do before bed or right when you wake up in the morning. When it comes to our minds, they crave routine. When something becomes part of your daily routine, it's easier to keep doing it.
Remember that it’s important to be honest with yourself when you write, and don’t be afraid to express your feelings, even if they are negative. It’s a safe space where you can let it all out without any fear of judgement. There's no one else who's going to know about what you're writing except you and your God.
Journaling may not be the solution for everyone, but it's definitely been my saving grace. This is a grace that has led to my blogging for all of you. I have used my journaling to not only help heal myself but also to heal others through my stories. My goal this year is to use some of my journaling to write my first book. This has been my biggest struggle for so long because it's the ultimate fear of rejection for me, but I'm getting there and working through it slowly.
And don't think that you need to be a writer in order to do this or be good at it. It's absolutely untrue! Truthfully, it's not about being good at it or knowing how to write in a particular way. You can literally sit there and write, "I hate journaling," and that's perfectly acceptable. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Like I said before, no one is going to see this, so just relax.
It's okay if you're one of those people who struggles to get started or stares at a blank page for hours before being able to scribble down a few ideas. There are so many prompting journals out there that you can get that will actually give you topics to write about, questions to answer, and ways to get started. So, don't be afraid to pick one up and get started!
You may think it's not your thing, but it’s definitely worth a try. Give it a shot; you may be surprised by the benefits it can bring you and how much it can help you cope with your struggles.
Happy journaling, everyone!