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There are many benefits to journaling, be it pen to paper in a book or on an App. In the battle for mental wellness, journaling can play a big part in winning the battle. I am the first to admit that developing journaling as a habit takes works, but remember our goal is to develop the self-discipline to take control of our emotions, minds, and lives. Journaling is one way to develop that self-discipline and begin to take control.
Ten Benefits of Journaling:
- Calming and clearing your mind
- Releasing pent up feelings
- Reduces stress
- Improves self-awareness and shows triggers
- Used for mood tracking.
- Shifts your perspective.
- Gets those repeating thoughts out of your head and on paper.
- Allows you to see other options.
- Cultivates gratitude.
- Allows you to track successes and promotes change.
Pointing out the benefits of journaling is all fine and well, but how do I journal?
For most people starting out, journaling is best done at night before bed to reduce racing thoughts.
The basic elements in journaling for mental health are medication and mood tracking, a gratitude list, finding something positive in your day and tracking your thinking.
Medication tracking – entails keeping track of the medications you are on and how they are making you feel. This is critical at the beginning of our journey towards mental wellness. I have often shared how I trialed fifty-two meds or combinations of meds in two years before I found the med that worked for me. By keeping track of each med or combination of meds and how they made me feel gave me the ability to go to my Pdoc with indisputable evidence. It also made it easier to see what was tried and never to repeat the prescriptions. We never had the, “I will prescribe this” not realizing that was prescribed months ago conversation.
Mood Tracking – entails keeping track of your moods. Mood tracking can highlight exposure to triggers that you may not even know you have.
By mood tracking, I found out I fell into a funk every Wednesday. The reason was on Wednesdays I had to deal with a really negative person for the entire afternoon. I had to quit that assignment.
By mood tracking, we figured out I had seasonally affected bipolar disorder.
Mood tracking gives us clues and then we can act on them.
Gratitude: list three things you are grateful for
Positivity: list three things that were positive today, like I made my bed, went out for coffee, did the dishes.
Thought Tracking :
Worry Tracking – entails writing about the people, places, situations or other external things that we are worried about and make us anxious. Then writing a conclusion – can we do something about this right now? Yes or No. If yes, what can we do right now? If No, why are we worrying about this?
Believe it or not, this one exercise caused me to stop worrying about a lot of things and put my life into perspective.
Racing Thoughts – reduction entails writing down everything you are thinking about. Putting them on paper makes it possible to see these thoughts in the light of day and judge if any of these thoughts are important. The truth is that when you go to write down all of those thoughts in your head a lot of them just disappear.
For me, journaling took what was once an all-day, every day, constant head pounding to an almost quiet mind.
Recently, I went through a period of racing thoughts as I implemented the changes to this blog. Too many ideas and tasks running in my mind proving that, yes, I still have bipolar. My constant journaling kept this episode short and it did not take over my life.
Trigger Tracking –This is done in three parts. Part 1. Writing down the triggering event and what my response was. Part 2. Writing down how best to handle the trigger in the future – I will a. avoid this trigger or b. learn to cope with this trigger. Part 3. If I choose to learn to cope with the triggering event, I then list all the resources, people, books, courses and other help I can use to learn these coping skills.
Since I started trigger tracking and deciding on how I will handle triggering events I have found that I am not triggered much anymore. But that took a number of years.
Journaling is one of the best tools there is for bipolar management. Journaling does not have to be detailed, just started. Everything I have outlined that a journal should contain is less than a page in my journal. There are many mental wellness journals and apps ready-made for you to start. I just encourage you to start and keep journaling. Your mental health will thank you.
As we conclude this week’s blog post always remember our battle with bipolar disorder is with and in our minds. Our battle is with our illness not with other people, places, situations or other external things. Our goal is to develop the self-discipline to take control of our emotions, minds, and lives.
The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”
I say,” Work hard on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”
Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.
Self Talk: How to Train Your Brain to Turn Negative Thinking into Positive Thinking & Practice Self Love (2nd Edition: Edited & Expanded)
365 Days of Positive Self-Talk for Finding Your Purpose
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BLOG OF THE WEEK:
Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well. This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you. I hope you enjoy this week’s blog created by Eva Grant originally featured in Bustle.