Just Me and My Journal: A Wellness Journey
When I think about wellness, I think about feeling good. Simply that. Unfortunately, it seems that with age and experience, the number of things that become an obstacle to attaining that feeling of "good" just increase. Don't you find, when reminiscing on childhood - which I tend to do often being an elementary school teacher, that when you were young, the things that tortured you were nothing compared to now? Maybe it's the increase of responsibility we have, or the notion that we should actually do something with our lives here on Earth - no longer can we cruise by playing on the monkey bars until our hands turn to literal blisters (clearly speaking from experience).
Well, hard things don't suddenly become easy, and shirking responsibilities is actually Karma's bestie - it'll come back to bite you in the ass. What we can do is change our outlooks on life. The most effective way for me to change my outlook, personally, is to look inward. I journal.
To be honest, I think I've been journaling since I was, like, 10. For about a decade after that, I was doing it because I liked the idea of it - the action of sitting with my little personal book and writing. But I wouldn't write about anything I truly needed to get out of my head or off my chest. So, in essence, I didn't really believe journaling held any power.
I remember the day that idea changed, though. I was 21 and doing a mini Euro-trip. I had just left Germany, where I visited a good friend, but had had an awful and jarring experience that shook my psyche and self-esteem. While in transit, I bought a gorgeous journal from a gift shop in the airport, because of course I simply liked the idea of journaling at this point. With hours to kill before my next flight, I used the time to actually write how I was feeling about the experience I'd just had (I had no choice; my brain was brimming!). If I may be honest, I was resisting myself so hard - I just did not want to come out with how I felt! I knew I was extremely insecure, unhappy, faking smiles, lonely, you name it; I just didn't want those truths to be my reality.
But they were, and I had to face them.
From that moment of meeting myself head-on and facing my insecurities, there was a certain weight I let go of. That's not to say my problems were reversed, because they were still very much there. However, now that I had taken ownership of them by way of acknowledging they were real and the source of my stress, I could move forward to solutionizing (not a word, I know, but #poeticlicense, thanks).
Writing in a journal is by no means a panacea, but it can certainly be a starting point to discovering root causes to consistent issues in your life. It can even be a way to simply reflect, jot down ideas, express some creativity, or whatever you want. For me, journaling has become a staple wellness practice. I giggle a little, internally, when I think about how I hated to reread my journal entries because I hated how I thought and wrote; I hated my experiences and my choices. I giggle because I've grown so much and it's like I'm watching myself grow by looking in a mirror.
I recently gave my good friend the advice to write down her feelings, qualms, insecurities - basically lay it all on the table - when she expressed to me how emotionally congested she was. She admitted that initially she didn't feel any better, but as the days continued, and she remained consistent with her self-honesty, she was able to have productive journaling sessions: uncovering layers to her issues and creating plans or action for herself.
And keeping a journal doesn't always look like this. Like I said, it can be whatever you need it to be. In short, here's what journaling as a wellness practice does/has done for me:
- Journaling has healed wounds that were yet to form...
- Journaling has stopped me from making ignorant decisions based on past ones...
- Journaling acts as a personal advice column made just for me that is judgement free...
- Journaling makes me look at myself objectively even, and especially, when I am hesitant to...
- Journaling has made me more self-reliant and self-assured pertaining to my thoughts and actions - I don't have to rely on the world to tell me how to think...
I'm curious about you, though. Do you journal or have other wellness practices you turn to? How have they helped you?
*P.S.* I wrote about journaling as a self-care practice with a bunch of other related practices. You can check that out here!