Journal Your Heart Out- 3 Journalling Techniques For Improved Mental Health.

(image: Pexels)

You’ve heard all the hype about journalling for your mental health, but you’re not sure where to start. Surely there’s more to it than simply writing down your thoughts?

Well, yes and no. There are multiple journalling tactics that offer different benefits depending on your needs, goals, and personal style. Some techniques work well for some, while others might find different systems fit better with their lifestyle.

Here, we’ll cover three journalling techniques that can help you with your mental health.

Free writing

One of the most common techniques in mental health journaling, free writing can benefit you in many ways. Also known as stream-of-consciousness journaling, all you need to do is pick up a pen and paper and start writing.

The goal with free writing is to get whatever is going on in your head onto paper – but without the need for structure, judgement, or reflection. You begin writing about the first thing that comes to mind, whether that’s exploring what you’re feeling or a random musing you’re having. You stop when you feel finished – it can go on for pages or be a few short paragraphs.

Through stream-of-consciousness journaling, you can better understand yourself. You can work through complicated thoughts and feelings or simply relieve your brain of them. Seeing your thoughts on paper can help you understand them more clearly and address them. Free writing is also associated with a boost in creativity and can be used as a way of brainstorming.

How do I know if free writing is right for me?

  • You want to try out journaling, but you’re not sure where to start
  • You don’t like exercises to be structured
  • You’re experiencing a mental block

Gratitude journalling

Practising gratitude has a lot of mental health benefits, and there are many different methods. You can tell your loved ones that you’re grateful for their contributions to your life, carrying out acts of kindness to convey your gratitude. Or you could observe the small things that make life worth living – like the colour of the sky or a beautiful green landscape. 

Journalling is a great way to solidify your practices of gratitude. By writing down the things you’re grateful for in your life , you can better visualise them and see just how much you have to be thankful for.

Gratitude can be especially beneficial if you’re prone to negative thoughts because it can help you appreciate the good in your life. But it’s important to understand that it’s not a catch-all solution. If practised incorrectly, gratitude could cross over into toxic positivity. To ensure it’s fully beneficial to you, make sure you can also acknowledge your current challenges while noting everything you’re grateful for.

How do I know if gratitude journaling is right for me?

  • You’re stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts, whether large or small
  • You want to get a better understanding of the good things in your life
  • You’d like to start your day off in a positive mindset

Cognitive journalling

This is a CBT technique turned journalling practice. If you’ve ever had CBT, you’ll know that thoughts, behaviours, and feelings are different, but they can all impact each other. A thought – especially an untrue negative one – affects your emotions and can influence how you react to something.

Cognitive journalling can be done once a day or whenever you experience negative thoughts and emotions with this ABC technique, you write down the event that triggered the thoughts you had (the activating event), how it made you feel (your beliefs), and the way it made you react (the consequences). By doing this exercise, you can begin to separate thoughts from feelings and understand how they affect your life and your behaviours.

Another version of this technique involves you writing down a negative thought and the evidence that supports it, as well as evidence against it. This helps you to understand that your thoughts aren’t facts and can undo unhelpful negative thought patterns.

How do I know if thought, behaviour, and feeling recording is right for me?

  • If you struggle with anxiety and constant negative thoughts
  • You want to understand and challenge your anxious thoughts and beliefs 
  • You struggle to separate thoughts and feelings

Journalling can help us with so many things, from inspiring creativity to helping us process our day. Some techniques are proven to support and improve our mental health, and the one that works best for you will depend on your goals and how you experience life. It’s important to note that it’s not a replacement for therapy, but it’s a supplementary activity that can boost you on a day-to-day basis. So get comfy in your favourite pyjama set, grab a pen and paper, and journal your heart out.

This unpaid blog was written by a freelance writer in collaboration with Cath Kidston, homewear brand.

‘Out of Office Ditch the 9-5’: An Outstanding new book by author Fiona Thomas.

(image: Fiona Thomas/ Trigger Publishing)

Out of Office: Ditch the 9-5 and Be Your Own Boss, by my friend and author Fiona Thomas is an incredible read! I have known Fiona for some time as our writing careers overlapped. We both became freelance journalists for publications including Metro.co.uk and Happiful magazine at the same time. We then got book deals around the same time with Trigger Publishing and released our first books within a year of one another. Fiona is one of the loveliest humans in the mental health writer world and so I eagerly anticipated reading her new book.

Ostensibly, the book is a guide to ditching the 9-5 traditional workplace and going freelance! This is something Fiona has great knowledge of, having left the 9-5 after a breakdown in her 20s and being diagnosed with depression and anxiety. It took her a year to recover from this and as she had previously worked as a Manager, she knew she couldn’t go back to the pressure cooker. You can read more about this in her first book Depression in a Digital Age.

Instead, like me, she found solace in blogging online about mental health, then writing and becoming a freelance writer for many publications. Now, she is not only an author but a writing coach, journalist and in demand speaker!

Freelancing is booming for people who want a more flexible lifestyle or have found themselves out of work too. All you need is a laptop, phone and internet connection!

(image: Fiona Thomas)

Now, to the book Out of Office. The book is full of Fiona’s trademark wit- I felt like she was talking directly to me as I read it. She has so much knowledge to impart on how to navigate the freelance world, avoid its pitfalls and make a successful career (and what to do when things can go pear shaped too!).

Whether you are just thinking about going freelance, just starting out or a few years down the line, this guide addresses all the questions you might have about working for yourself and making the most of life. Designed to help you attain and enjoy a self employed career, the book challenges the misconceptions around freelancing and offers the pros and cons of taking the plunge.

Fiona covers topics such as how to raise an invoice and submit a tax return, how to sell yourself, coping with imposter syndrome (aka I’m just not good enough to be here), as well as why working from home is proven to have a positive impact on productivity and mental health.

Fiona is a mental health advocate and always strives to help others on their journeys. I loved how engaging the book was, how I couldn’t wait to read the next chapter and learn more. As a freelance writer/blogger/author myself, I knew this book would help me too (especially with the finances) and it is sitting in pride of place on my book shelf as I devoured it. I will definitely re read and use Out of Office as a reference point in the future too.

This is a must read and you can get a copy here and in all good bookshops.

About Fiona:

Fiona Thomas is a freelance writer who was born in Glasgow but now lives in Birmingham. She has been published in Metro, Reader’s Digest, Happiful Magazine and Grazia. Her passion is working with female-led businesses and shining a light on the positive impact that freelancing can have on our wellbeing. This is her second book. She blogs at fionalikestoblog.com

Life Whirlwind: Mental Health Writing, Blogging and Speaking, Bipolar Disorder and a trip to Romania.

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(image: Pinterest)

The past few weeks have been incredibly busy- but exciting. This month has been a bit of a rebirth in many ways. My writing and blogging have truly taken off and been published in various different places- this month my story is in Happiful Magazine, two articles for Metro on mental health (www.metro.co.uk), I shared my story in the Jewish News here in the UK and online at STOP Suicide. It has been Time to Talk Day (about mental health), Childrens Mental Health Awareness Week and I have also volunteered this month with Jami (Jewish Association of Mental Illness) Mental Health Awareness Shabbat, which this year came to around 97 Jewish communities in the UK. I attended the panel event at a local community centre and discussion was had on mental health here in the UK, by experts including my friend Jonny Benjamin.

This month, I have also been asked by a friend to come in and talk to his work place about living with anxiety and what it means. So that is hugely exciting for me! I am also writing a mental health article for a top womens magazine- which is a dream of mine. I hope to share that with you when its published.  I have been writing sample chapters for a book too and am in the limbo phase of waiting to hear what editors think.

So, its been a total whirlwind really as I have also been running my blog here and sharing peoples stories (and last month this blog was nominated as a finalist for a UK Blog Award). I was also asked last week if a social media editor could turn my story into a video for her 200 thousand followers so that is in process too. I had not ascertained how much interest there would be in my story.

Professionally, a lot is changing and I have to be very much aware to look after my mental health, to get enough sleep and rest, to make sure I take my tablets on time, to eat well and do some gentle exercise and to see and speak to my friends (and boyfriend of course). I have to keep grounded and rested in order to function effectively. Last week, the Jewish News article came out and I know it has had a positive ripple effect in my community- as my Mum was stopped in the pharmacy for people to talk to her about it. So thats exciting.

I am a shy person at heart and I have written extensively on having social anxiety. When my JN article came out, i actually felt very anxious at first and wanted to hide away. Mental health stigma is still present in my community and I felt scared. But I needn’t have worried as the reaction has been very positive!

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I am still processing all thats going on and I am lucky to have a really good therapist and family/ boyfriend support network to help me deal with the changes going on. I am still adjusting to the financial side of being a freelance writer and pitching to editors at different places. My latest Metro article on child grief came out on Friday and you can read it here: http://metro.co.uk/2018/02/02/children-often-get-sidelined-when-a-family-experiences-loss-why-its-important-we-talk-to-pupils-in-schools-about-grief-7270002/

Over the weekend, I went with my Dad to Iasi, Romania (on the border with Moldova) which is where my great Grandpa and his family were from. It was an eye opening trip- the city is grand and full of culture. However, as Jews we had relatives who died in the Holocaust and found this out using the Yad Vashem Holocaust database when we came back. It was great seeing Iasi but also sad as some of our relatives were taken from there to be killed – but an eye opening trip.

Today, I am feeling thankful and grateful for all thats going on and thankful for you who are reading and following and commenting- and enjoying my work.

With love, Eleanor x

Holiday Break Update: Fairy Lights, Writing and Self Care Rest.

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(image: flickr.com  at Kew Gardens, London)

I have had a really relaxing and at times, busy, break. I always try to pace myself because sometimes when I do too much, I get overly tired or anxious, which has a knock on effect for the rest of the week. Its important that I don’t do too much at once.

Although we don’t celebrate Christmas, my boyfriend and I went to the Christmas at Kew Light installations. They were so beautiful with a tunnel of fairy lights, oversized baubles, stars and snowflakes hanging from trees, coloured fairy light displays on the lake, different coloured trees and singing trees, burning fire and glittery fake trees, coloured pods changing colour to music and the Palm House light show with a Winter theme. The trail was just incredible, I really recommend it! There are also rides, a kids show and little kiosks selling mulled drinks and hot chocolate.

Then, I have been spending the past few days with family and been working a lot on my writing- on my book manuscript and also on another project for a magazine. It can get tiring and I invest a lot emotionally but I am so grateful to be able to write, and hope only positive things come out of it .

I have taken time as well for self care- to read, rest, relax so I don’t get overly anxious or exhausted. Yesterday I watched the Sex and the City Movie. I love Sex and the City, its brilliant. It makes me happy.

Hope you have all had a good break? Let me know what you have been up to. Remember self care is so important. Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year 2018!

My Blogging Journey: An Update

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All has been so busy here at Be Ur Own Light of late that I havn’t often had time to sit down and just breathe and be. I started this blog back in March time as a personal journal and a way for me to speak to friends and family about my struggles with bipolar and anxiety.

Since then, it has been read on almost every continent excluding the Poles (thank you), gained a larger following here on WordPress and on social media and led me to collaborate with a variety of mental health writers and bloggers, campaigners, charities and  health campaigns.

From there, I have also started blogging for the Huffington Post Lifestyle under my real name and am hoping to collaborate with many others. My dream would be to have a feature in Glamour UK Magazine, Stella Magazine or Grazia. I hope that by putting it out to the universe that this will happen!

I would also like to write my own Mental health book and memoir and become a published author and raise more money for charities.

Thank you so much for reading and being a part of my writing journey. Thank you for your likes, follows, comments, guest posts and Tweets/ Insta messages. Thank you for reading from your corner of the world.

I hope to make Be Ur Own Light a big magazine style blog, reaching as many people as possible. For now though, I am humbled by the love and support I have received so far. If you want to collaborate with me just email beurownlight@gmail.com or Tweet me. 

With gratitude and love x