Managing Anxiety & Me! - Journalling
Welcome to my second blog post and thank you all for the wonderful feedback on my post about counselling.
I wanted to write a post on journalling to explain from my experience, how much it has benefited my journey with anxiety and on occasions episodes of depression.
Journalling was introduced to me at a very young age when I first attended counselling. At the time I was attending due to circumstances at home which I felt very uncomfortable talking to a stranger about at the start. The therapist suggested journalling as a way of expression as I was carrying a burden that felt controlling as I couldn't speak to anyone about it. Mainly for fear that it would get my parents into trouble. He explained to me that this journal would be just for me and that no one would need to ever see it if that was what I wanted. Thinking back this gesture made me trust him a bit more.
At the beginning I felt odd. I thought even though it was just for me, that I had to write a story as if someone else would see it when in reality it was just me that would look at it. It just felt awkward. So I started with Dear Diary. I was only 12 at the time and diaries were common on the tv shows that I watched so I felt comfortable doing this.
As time went on I felt a lot more at ease with writing. Instead of writing Dear Diary, today I went to school etc. I started to write about circumstances that made me feel sad or uncomfortable and how I felt about them. I grew to understand how I was feeling and in turn I was able to express these feelings to my counselor.
Unfortunately my time was cut short in therapy as I was starting to tell stories from home that were coming back to the family so for fear we stopped. One thing that I didn't stop was journalling. I used to go to my room whenever uncomfortable situations were happening at home and I would climb onto my bed and take out my notebook and write. In a funny way I felt like this notebook was my safe place to let all my fears be understood and that I wasn't alone.
Throughout my life in pregnancies and rough times I have continued writing. It was my way of grounded myself in situations that I couldn't control or understand. It enabled me to talk clearly and honestly about how I felt because I had taken the time to write it down and realize what I felt in those situations.
I don't think I am alone and that even as an adult there are some things we feel like we need to get off our chest but for fear of hurting others or making a situation worse we hole it in. Writing it down has always been my way to get those thoughts out and understand them before I would speak to someone else.
This was always my way of learning how to manage anxiety. I was able to look back at a time when I wanted help with anxiety and figure out what my triggers were. I don't think I would of been able to otherwise. That's why it has always been so important to me.
Fast forward to being a mom of three it is more important that ever. One thing I am very protective over is that my kids don't see me upset or stressed (I get stressed about the normal stuff, but you know what I mean) At home if I'm having a bad day I know I have that book waiting for me to unwind and offload.
I wanted to write this to explain more of the benefits that I have found. Like a lot of other things, it might not be for you but for some writing it down can help in a huge way to release feelings of anxiety, overwhelm and to give clarity on pressing matters that you need to tackle instead of rushing into situations with no clear outcome.
My top tips on getting started:
1. Get a lined notebook that you like and a comfortable pen. (the pen is so important, you could be writing for longer than you think :) )
2. Only journal when you are alone without distraction. Otherwise it will stress you out more and you won't be able to write freely.
3. Write when you feel like you need it and don't set a time. If you feel stressed at 9am or 1am and can't sleep, journal for a few minutes and I can safely say you will sleep better or get through your day a lot easier.
4. You don't need to tell anyone. This is something that you can keep private to yourself. I remember on a few occasions after telling partners they would then look for it out of pure curiosity. This is your safe place so let you keep that for yourself. Unless it's a counselor I don't see the need to tell anyone else.
5. Unless you have a specific need to, such as finding triggers, try not to re read your journal as it might bring up unwanted feelings of distress from the past.
I hope this in some ways explains why I always talk about journalling and more importantly I hope you find some tips to get started.
Note: As always if you are experiencing prolonged feelings of distress or feel like your issues are out of your control, please speak to a mental health professional or your GP. This post is my opinion only and must not be taken as fact or medical advice.