How can Journal Therapy support the route to recovery? Self Help Tools-Part 2
This write-up is a follow up on the previous article where we shared about “Why Journaling Is important? Please go through it in case you haven’t & then read this in continuation. Please find the link here: https://holisticabode.in/why-journaling-is-important/
Journal Therapy is a highly researched, dynamically growing, widely expansive modality to strengthen the mind-body connection & vent out difficult or toxic thoughts, feelings & emotions. It is a highly therapeutic tool to accomplish deep healing & to rewire the brain in order to connect with new positive programs. During my journey of working with kids, adolescents & adults, I have realized the indispensable role of regular self-healing which not only empowers them during the process of therapy but also stays with them life-long once the case is closed. Self- Introspection & healing is as crucial as our other self maintenance routines like food, sleep, bathing etc.
How often do you find time for your self-discovery, reflection & introspection? We spend roughly 7 hours during sleep, around 3 hours in having meals, tea break, fruits, taking a shower, using wash room, using social media etc., around 10 hours traveling, doing official work, reading/sending emails, cooking, household chores etc. If we exclude 20 hours in a day, we have almost 4 hours left out of which 2 hours is spent with family, spouse, kids & friends or entertainment. So, we are left with around 2 hours (depending on your specific routine & lifestyle) for “ME TIME”.
How would you like to spend these 2-3 hours in a window of 24 hours each day?
Would you just spend your time aimlessly scrolling the facebook/ instagram or watching T.V, gossiping, arguing, overthinking, daydreaming etc.?
Or would you like to use this time to do any form of exercise like yoga, tai chi, dance, pilates etc., meditation, writing, listening music, having a nature walk etc.
The idea here is not to judge self or others, but to gain a reality check of how much time we have for ourselves each day. Just spend few moments here to track your daily routine measuring how much time you are spending on various activities. If you catch yourself doing something unhelpful routines like oversleeping, excessive online shopping etc., just become aware of it. Steal 5 minutes after every hour to take a mindful break where you recharge yourself.
Few Mindful Break Ideas:
- Observing a plant or a tree
- Listening soft music or song
- Watching a small comedy clip
- Watching a quick informative & interesting video on You Tube
For Instance, you start your day at 8 am & do various activities till 8pm, so you can easily manage at least up to an hour using this principle.
Now let us discuss few ideas on how you can conduct a journal therapy session all for yourself & by yourself. Journal Therapy is extremely useful in a variety of issues like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Depression, Stress, Worry, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Insomnia etc. The common underlying theme in all kinds of mental, emotional & psychological issues is that the person is not able to regulate their negative thoughts, emotions or behavior. This further leads to changes in brain chemistry, hormones & other physiological functions. Since, mind and body are deeply connected & are essentially one & the same, only difference being that the mind is more subjective & abstract whereas body is more objective & concrete. This loss of control over our thoughts & feelings further creates a vicious cycle where initially our irrational, unhelpful thoughts bring changes in brain chemistry by creating feelings & emotions & this resulting brain chemistry acts as a catalyst to further cause dysfunctional thoughts.
An easy methodology to overcome your racing thoughts is to jot down everything that is popping in our head. Many people resist this at first, fearing to face that negativity & believing that they will give that darkness even more power by expressing it. However, that’s not at all true, just using the pen & paper to scribble all that you feel is a route of shredding out all that which has been taking hostage within. Once you feel empty enough, just tear off that page either discard it or burn it. In case of racing thoughts, a simple theme of expressive flow of writing is quite helpful. Using writing, when too many thoughts are coming, without analysis or self-censorship for a minimum 15 to 20 minutes is just another form of self-expression. Journaling, like music, dance, art, craft, and yoga is a powerful medium of self-expression & is highly liberating & creative activity.
The challenges that we often face in case of relationships like loss of a loved one, or too many fights or disagreements between you & your partner, too much communication gap or rising resentments when expectations aren’t met. All this can disrupt our homeostatic state by affecting sleep & the quality of thoughts during the day. In such a scenario “Letter- Writing” is highly efficacious. The prompts that one can use are: What are the things that you really wanted to say, but could not say? Make a list of all those memories and include your specific feelings, thoughts & emotions, also the things that you really appreciate & those that you do not.
If there is a repetitive pattern that you are facing in relationships e.g. Feeling ignored or rejected in a relationship, then track down those specific actions & events that lead you to feel this way. You may be facing some other pattern in your relationship, whatever it is you can discover the same by scribbling down your experiences right from your first love relationship till the present. When you look from the bird’s eye view you will easily trace the pattern that you have been unconsciously creating. This will help you to take responsibility without the need to blame self or others, simply because it happens with every human & it is a journey where the external events mirror our deeper beliefs about life, of which as soon as we become aware, we are simply required to replace them. Here I encourage you to design your own writing practice using the tips & ideas shared above & this week work on your relationship with yourself with the theme of enhancing SELF-LOVE. You may use the prompts, shared below:
- Use this list to ensure a consistent SELF-LOVE Practice:
- Set aside a dedicated time of around 15 minutes each day
- Sand Timer or Digital Timer
- Colored pencil, pen, craft material
- A designated quiet corner with a fragrance dispenser or pink candle
- Comfortable chair/ sofa or mattress
- What I would like to cultivate in my self-love practice & why? (Focus on developing virtues even if you are looking for a material reward, eg. Increase in Income. For now think on the lines of abstract qualities like what skills I need to increase my income? (Do I need more Self- Confidence, Time Management, Communication Skills, Adaptability, Inner Peace etc.)?
- What actions I need to take to make this possible?
- If I have to divide this goal into small chunks, how can I do that?
- When & How will I know that I am closer to this goal?
- What barrier might be there between me & my goal?
- What strategies or coping skills or support systems I can use to overcome these barriers?
Add more innovation in this theme of your Self- Love practice and share your experiences on the links shared below. Allow the beauty of your heart unfold & guide the way. Happy Journaling till we meet next.
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