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Journalling Tips and How It Has Helped My Anxiety

If you have been to counselling or therapy sessions, I am sure they have told you, that one of the tools that can help is journalling.

I have only started journalling a year ago from my therapy sessions. But I am familiar with it because my husband has been journalling for more than 5 years now. He has a journal for his running routines, what we eat, what we did to the point that if I was questioning when was my last period, he can go check his journal and let me know. And his discipline of journalling is one I admire, truly. He does it everyday without fail.

I don't journal everyday, but I do make sure that I do it consistently every few days.

It is overwhelming to start and you may think you can just do it in your NOTES in your IPhone or on your laptop in some fancy task manager web app but writing down your thoughts IS a form of therapy. It has a different feeling of letting go through your writing.

We all have millions of thoughts and it can jump from one thing to another, without us really finding a solution to a problem, or sitting long enough with that particular thought. And jumping into different thoughts at a time, feeling overwhelmed is not healthy for our mind.

Here is how I started journalling and how I do it:

  1. Finding your notebook.

Yes you don't have to find a fancy, glittery notebook with binders or separators. But if you are that person that needs to feel motivated, hey feel free to do so! Writing in a notebook that looks pretty and that gives you motivation to write is a great first step. Or you can be like both my husband and I, we just use the normal brown school books that you can buy from the stationary shops.

If we do feel like we want to splurge on our notebooks, we usually get them from Muji. You can find many variations there, but we usually take the 5 per pack notebook which I believe is the most value for money.

Tip: I usually get the ones with the least busiest layout. Either pure blank sheets or the ones with normal straight lines. Not with the grid, or with different pre-filled colums and rows. I am already overwhelmed and don't need a busy layout to make it worse. Writing down on a blank canvas and making my own columns and rows that works for me is the way to go!

2. Turn negative into positive

I journal at night, and after I write down what I did for the day, I will write how I feel throughout the day, mostly the negatives. However, I don't want to go back to my journal with pages of all the negative things that happen to me. So instead, I further my journalling into why it happens and how I can change or overcome it next time. For example:

I felt super stress today - thinking back what started, it may be triggered by a customer complaint - it was because xxxx - I only get negative feedback once in xx so I should not feel super worry - Tomorrow I will try my best to xxx

3. Gratitude list

Aside from that, I also do a gratitude list. Sometimes us anxious people always focus on the negative that all is doom. We don't realize all the good things that come because our mind is just stubborn like that.

You can write as many as you would like and it can be as small or as big. For example:

  1. Feeling grateful that mom bought me lunch today and it was delicious

  2. Feeling grateful that daughter had a good uninterrupted sleep and in a good mood

  3. Feeling grateful that I manage to wake up and made the bed without rushing

  4. Feeling grateful that I have wonderful team at work

  5. Feeling grateful that I am able to spend quality time with my husband

Gratitude list is my favourite one to do because I honestly don't realize all the wonderful things I have until I write it down and notices that all the smallest things matter too.

4. Task sorter

When you have a million things to do for work or personal, I like to keep it separate. Personal tasks in personal book, work tasks in work book. I will freak out seeing the list altogether.

For work, I list them a week ahead but I already have a pre-filled category for each day. For example:

Monday - blog posts/social media

Tuesday - meetings

Wednesday - research and development

Thursday - strategy

Friday - xxx

Underneath each day, I write down all my tasks and arrange according to priority.

For personal, I list according to:

Do not list too many things in each day. Just write a couple of things, if you have ticked off all and have plenty time to do more tasks, only then write the new tasks. I feel a sense of accomplishment knowing I have made it through the day completing all my tasks. BUT DO NOT feel any less if you can't manage to do all your tasks. This is not a competition, getting up to do something is already great. This is a habit and it should be easier once applied and practiced.

5. Reflect on it

Reflect and acknowdlege what journalling can do for you. It has helped me tremendously on managing and compartmentalize my thoughts, getting things done and learning to love and accept myself the way I am, appreciating the people around me as well.

What works for me may not work for you, so find your way to journal that works. Maybe your journal can just be your thoughts, non censored, like a diary. Maybe bullet journal method is your go-to!

Whatever it is, start now! I wish you the best in your journalling journey and hope it will help you in your daily life.

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