Journaling As Self-Care for Your Mental Health
Friday, September 27 2013 Paulissa Kipp
Journaling for self-care eases the distress inherent in mental illness along with the stress of mental health stigma and maintaining the delicate balance of medication, therapy and building a positive support system. Blessings come from learning passionate self-care and finding expressive outlets for the sometimes overwhelming emotions and triggers. Journaling as a kind of self-care is easy, fun, unique and, above all, journaling is beneficial to your mental health.
Journaling as self-car increases your mental health awareness and recovery because it provides a safe place to hold thoughts and emotions without fear of the reactions of others. It can also help in those moments when there are things that need to be said but you are unable to find the words to clearly express things.
Journaling can take many forms: On paper (such as a bullet journal), blogging, private digital journals, or with art journaling, which combines text, color and a multitude of available mediums for self-expression (try zentangling).
Emotion and Gratitude Journaling as Self-Care
My first exposure to journaling was through a human relations class. The professor required us to keep 2 journals throughout the quarter: an emotions journal and a gratitude journal. The purpose of the emotions journal was to allow a safe place to capture intense emotion - anger, sadness, fear, etc and simply free write. No editing, no self-censoring, curse if you like, but release. The process allowed me to read through entries, identify negative thought patterns that were holding me back or to identify triggering events.
The gratitude journal is a place to write about "What's Right With Me". It takes no effort to come up with the things that annoy us in our lives. The journey within to find what is going well - even just "I am here" - requires a healing, loving introspection. I keep both of these journals in a Google document so that they are password protected and are only for me.
Art Journaling for Self-Care and Sanity
Art journaling is another self-care tool that you can carry in your mental health recovery toolbox. My foray into art journaling began 3 years ago when I had back-to-back medical crises that each took 18 months to diagnose and resulted in emergency surgeries.
I bought a sketchbook, paints and pens and began splashing down my frustration at being passed around through 6 doctors, trying to find the correct phone number for the correct department and the feeling of betrayal by my body. The magic of art journaling is tapping into the subconscious and bringing it into the light. My 1st piece is titled "Can You Hear Me Now?"
Over time, I have learned to allow the pages speak on their own: inspired by the color or a mental image, a phrase or a line, the composition builds itself. Recently, I have discovered zentangling which is a form of creative meditation in which the creator is not concerned about the final image. My most recent piece is a reflection of my thoughts about my mom's passing and is titled "Willow Weep For Me".
Creativity through journaling can be a lifeline to our mental health recovery. How are you positively expressing yourself?
Art by Paulissa Kipp