… a friend who’s seen me through the times.
Last evening, I was hit with a stream of thoughts on mental health, my journey with it including the self-care I inculcate into my days & routines, and how I hope more folks would gravitate toward the practice of journalling. Mental illnesses are jarringly many, and through this piece of writing — by focusing on how journalling ‘helps’ my mental health, I don’t mean to come off as unwittingly single-minded in my stance. Mental disorders require professional counsel, studying and diagnosing, and I speak, foremost, from first-hand experience (reg my issues & troubles) and partly, from a belief that self-care techniques are tools, it is how we apply & use said exercises that matters.
Of the tools that form my self-care practice, journalling has aided me, the most, in making sense of things. I am fairly introverted by nature, and in my younger years — I viewed this as something I had to fight hard to transmute. This, in turn, made it difficult for me to express myself as I was or feel safe doing so, I worried about who was watching and who’d be judging me… That I had a voice of my own was unbeknownst to me. The funny thing is while my notions on mental health and self-care were non-existent at that point — I did have journalling. I expressed my feelings, doodled, recorded incidents, noted things I hoped to do. Even so, as an exercise, I can’t say that it helped me to usefully gain intel (for lack of a better word) on myself. Like sure, it was a form of release, something I enjoyed — it was part art project & part friend to me, my Heart on paper. What was lacking was awareness. Innate wisdom that could help me connect the dots, find patterns, decipher codes, find out what made me tick etc.
Journals are a thing of joy for me, yes — there’s more. This is a book on you. A key, guide, friend. For those of us inexperienced in the realms of behavioural therapy, psychology and self-care — we might not often consult our journals on a periodical basis, or deem them valuable records. When we do happen to read them, it might be something indulgent for us to revisit — gaining a glimpse at a younger you. Incidents, too painful for us to relive — might be the parts we skim over. This, of course, makes me feel like we could find within more appreciation & understanding for those that actively work in the mental health care sector — because it is them who can put it into perspective for us. When we aren’t aware or in the know-how, it can be nonplussing for us to dive in and not know what exactly we are or should be looking for. We lose time, and we risk catching our breaths at well-paced intervals. Y’know? A counsellor or therapist, with time and technique, can help us to comfortably, compassionately and creatively make sense of the things in our heads (ordinary & otherwise).
Swiftly sidestepping into…
I believe, whilst I am ready to be come at by those of you who work in the field and know more (I would love to speak with you, by the way), that with good resources & teachers — we can learn to apply & use this form of record-keeping on our own, to our advantage. Through a mix of streaming and writing techniques including daily jotting down, focused exercises & periodical prompts — we can come upon “insider insights” aplenty (what makes us tick, our high highs & low lows, past traumas, behaviours that serve us & those that don’t). Knowing yourself, a lifelong adventure. Lest you be fooled, I have days when I don’t get into the details behind every action or thought, but I gain comfort & solace in the listing, the writing — in knowing that not every little thing has to be analysed or holds revelations right this minute, and some things are what they are — experiences, incidents, memories, records.
That’s all I have, folks, for this particular essay & instance, and before we bid adieu — I share with you a tweaked version of the world-famous (I think people know about this) 5-minute journal technique that I have been practising (following?) for close to two years now.
The FIVE-MINUTE JOURNAL (Roanna’s version)
Before your day begins (or… The night before, whatever works for you)
- I’m grateful for: (List 3 things.)
- To-do: (3 tasks you’d like to prioritise & commit to doing, whatever these might be.)
- Daily Affirmation: (An “I am” statement that is empowering, truthful to you & your belief systems. Nothing’s too out there or too silly. E.g., I am stunningly imperfect.)
- Oracle cards are something I threw into this exercise, about a year ago — I pull out a few cards for the day from decks that speak to me. These feature affirmations, messages and themes I can focus on or keep in mind for the day. At night, whilst reflecting, it’s usually fun to see if any of these messages or themes popped up for you during the day.
Before bed, or late at night
- List out the significant things that happened during the day: (3 things work. The OG exercise uses the word ‘amazing’ that I recently decided to rechristen significant because I felt that some days had events & experiences that I could not classify as special or spectacular. I list out 12 significant things — the more, the merrier — truthfully, it allows me to record a lot of big & little things that I might otherwise think to exclude because I deem them too basic to share or such. With 3, I feel like I can only choose ‘highlights’ and little else — I don’t like that thought, so much can change or happen in a day & I would like my ‘book-keeping’ to be inclusive and true to me.)
P.S. It didn’t occur to me until this past afternoon that today’s date has this one step in the old, one out the door into the new feel… 1202–2022. Geddit?! (I concede that the reasonings that bring me the most delight are usually odd but… 1202!!! 2021, backwards.)
With that, I say… Good night, take care, be well.
Thank you for reading.
A note: Let it be known that much as it’d be sweet, that you feel welcome here, experiences and views expressed on Rosewater. are deeply, truly, madly personal. (Unless stated otherwise.) Should they strike a chord with your own musings and reflections, that’s lovely, and if not, that’s cool too. This collection contains no facts, solo personal musings and truths.