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The Fine Art of Journaling

Writing is a lovely art. It allows thoughts to be put on paper and to be made sense of. It means that instead of having conversations about what’s happening, we can write it down, digest it and then articulate it in the best possible way rather than blurting it out to the people around us.

Talk is cheap, they say. I don’t actually agree. Talk is good for the mind and can be a great ground for venting and sharing the latest and greatest thoughts to those around us. It’s important for mental health and talk therapy can change lives.

Writing, though?

Quite often, for the introverted folk like myself, writing content on some form of paper can be extremely therapeutic. We’d rather digest rather digress. Our thoughts on paper means we can read back over it and allow this to guide us in our decision-making, support us in our troubles and accelerate our dreams. Yes yes, it has many benefits and is certainly becoming a returning art.

Last Summer, while in a tough spell, my sister ordered me an Inner-Queen Journal. It was an opportunity to record my daily affirmations, set my goals and plan my days. More than anything though, it was a chance to build in a structure, routine and daily habit that would carry me right through to this point (8 months later).

You see, it takes 21 days to form a habit and the longer that habit is followed consistently, the greater the impact it has on our self-esteem as it shows us – we can do this. Couple that habit with the movement of oneself out of a life rut and well, it gets even better as it can help to shift an entire mindset.

The benefits I’ve gotten from journaling have been multiple. Here are the main ones which have supported me through the Pandemic:

  1. Experiencing a tough time at the start of last Summer on a personal level, having a habit I could turn to allowed me to build a stronger mindset. This is for the reasons listed above and for the fact that having something positive to focus on outside of pain enables healthy processing. In this case, writing my goals, affirmations and gratitude lists down helped my mind ALOT.
  2. Writing down a goal increases its chances of being achieved by 40%. In this case, writing down my plans for the day, week and month has certainly helped to accelerate those goals towards their next stage and given an opportunity to see those milestones.
  3. Moving out of a tricky time is always lovely. Looking back on old journals to when you felt lower and more challenged is certainly a satisfying feeling. Quite often we focus on final outcomes however the greatest triumph is in the doing and the process.
  4. When at our optimum, we are powerful in that we can inspire others and ourselves to build a healthy mindset. Journaling isn’t just for when something is going wrong – it’s a habit to maintain a healthy mindset & reflect on specific moments.
  5. Venting is helpful sometimes. As I mentioned earlier, please do talk when you need to. Remember though that quite often, journaling has the benefit of allowing you to reflect on your own scenarios without getting advice from others. Advice is great however your own intuition is your best friend & guidance and writing will allow you to flex that muscle more and more.

Resource-wise, the Inner-Queen journal has been the best for me. Other options have been to get an empty notebook and start writing down what you’re thinking. I do this quite often when I need to get out of my head and it works a treat. Journal prompts are a strong place to start and so, I’ll do a post on this in the coming days. Feel free to reach out if I can add further support.

2020 Learnings & Then, The Pandemic

I debated back and forth what the best learnings have been for the year that was 2020. Do I even need some learnings? I’ve joked about it with friends, attended meditation workshops and have summarised it into one word on a few occasions. There’s been a lot of lessons and then, there was a pandemic and we’ve all had to stay home for a bit.

We click onto the news and the numbers are rising each day and it comes as a welcome distraction to the work we need to do and reflections that are inevitable as we approach the end of a new year.

As we close off 2020 with a full moon, another lockdown (in Ireland) and a call to sit with ourselves some more, I ventured out of my usual journals to share my learnings from the year that I will for sure carry into 2021 with me. Note that Rome wasn’t built in a day and so, if you’re having trouble putting your finger on your reflections from the year – that’s okay too. Taking a breath to celebrate how freaking far we’ve come is needed too.

  1. It’s a cliche, I say it all the time and it’s been more true than ever this year that indeed, you become like the people you spend the most time with. This applies to work, friendships, family, romance & hobbies. Naturally, you will be impacted by their beliefs, mannerisms, talk and world views. Thankfully, I’ve experienced more time and connection with those I love this year AND have recognised the toxic influences around me and cut them loose. Your energy is valuable and easily influenced so be clear on what that looks like.
  2. Slowing down is a good thing. Two weeks ago, after cutting my finger open on a brass edge, I wrapped it up and carried on with my work that day. To quote my sister ‘that’s so June’ meaning I don’t naturally stop to take things in and so, I’ve continued to be mindful of 2020’s need to stop and just be (with pain or not). Sit and be okay with it.
  3. People are accountable for their own behaviour. With so much going on, it can feel acceptable to make excuses for other people and their poor actions. Actually, whatever is happening, those around us are responsible for their ways and you’re allowed to set a standard of what that should be in your life and brought to your doorstep. If it doesn’t work, boundary-up.
  4. It’s okay to do a U-turn on what you thought you wanted and admit that to those around you. Vulnerability is a scary feel and indeed, leaves you open to a lot of criticism. You know what’s worse though? Sitting in a situation you’re unhappy with just because you said you’d do it. Be clear on your intentions for 2021 as you allow yourself to be guided.
  5. It’s okay not to be okay. Again, we know this and I’ve posted about it quite a bit. Our mental health is going to have its ups and downs on a normal year – nevermind a weird year like 2020. Show up for yourself, your emotions and be yourself in whatever situation that might be. I promise it will pass faster if you allow it to just be.

There’s so much more I could post about and that you could add to the list, right? My advice to you is to look back and celebrate your growth and allow that to be a stepping stone into a new year. No, we’re not going to magical have everything solved as we venture into 2021. We are however marking a milestone that won’t be here again.

Tread ever so carefully and mind yourselves this new year.

Five Ways To Start Preparing For 2018 – Now

I’ve said it before. Who cares about new year’s resolutions? If you’re going to make a change, why not now? I’m guilty of it myself. I’ve got a busy couple of months ahead with Christmas in retail and so, it would be easy to throw my fitness plans to the side. However for many reasons, I will push through with them now. I need to get the benefit of it now (not in three months from now) and besides, it’s better to start sooner rather than later. In three months from now, I’ll have wished that I started today.

Considering 2017 as a year, it hasn’t been bad. It also hasn’t been the best year of my life. There have been so many things I’ve said I’d do and they haven’t happened. I wanted to see more of the world – that was limited. Meanwhile, I had some health challenges and had some personal situations pop up that hadn’t been invited around. It all worked out and I feel on track however I can’t help but think that 2018 needs to be better. The way for me to do this is being pro-active and being clear on where I want to be.

As mentioned above, I’ve taken a better stance on my fitness. To be honest, I haven’t had a choice. Visiting a physio again last week brought me and my sore back right down to earth – I need to take care of myself. Other goals have been to grow this blog (yes, again) and thirdly, I want to travel more. Hence why I booked my first holiday of the year for April next year (watch this space). It doesn’t need to be a challenge, it just needs to be organised and realistic.

So there’s a whole new year ahead, have you thought about what you want it to be like for yourself? Are you a planner or do you like to take things as they come?

*Firstly, the reason I got planning for next year was financial. For one, I realise that booking holidays super close to the time means that I spend way more on the trip than I need to. Sometimes, this means I don’t go at all as I don’t want to part ways with lots of cash. So basically, planning for 2018 now will save some cash.

*Being clear on goals means you aren’t flapping about in the dark. I am personally happiest when I know where I stand and where I’m headed. This is why I know what holidays I’ll take, how fit I want to get and how much money I want to save. These are all the areas for me to work on so these are the examples I’m using. For yourself though, perhaps it’s to do with diet, a career move or a hobby you’ve been dreaming about? Get journaling, planning and taking action NOW.

*Is there something you need to put in place now in order to reach a certain goal in 2018? Perhaps, you need to enrol in a course, put down a deposit on a trip somewhere or start researching something that will move you in the direct of your calling.

*How many times have you worked on this before? Did it work out or has it left you at square one? If there’s a goal you want to reach that you’ve failed to reach before, learn from your mistakes. Why didn’t it work out? What can you change this time? You know your self better than anyone.

*Work on yourself and everything else will follow. I’m a huge believer in the self-help movement. I believe if we work on ourselves and how we value ourselves then we’ll be more likely to reach our goals. If you’re not feeling as great or as confident as you could – spend some time on the why. Read some books, watch Ted Talks or discuss with a life coach. I promise you’ll be glad you did – no matter the reason.

Whether it’s for 2018 or right now, being clear of goals and intentions is more likely to move you in a direction that suits you.¬†