How are you? The past 18 months have been ‘interesting’ to say the least. Of course, danger and uncertainty have always been a feature of life, but it’s clear that people are affected by the challenges they face in very different ways.
In a week when Mental Health Awareness is in the spotlight, we’re looking at ways in which we can all achieve good mental health. In the UK today, ‘National Diary Day’ is also a good opportunity to look at self-expression. Interesting that a society famous for its stiff upper lip, is home to the Mass Observation Project, where contributors are invited to submit their own story, vividly, with no holds barred – and more than 5000 of us got involved this time last year.
Express yourself and take control
Diaries are not just for the very young! Whether it’s leather bound, locked carefully with its own special key or an exercise book stashed under a mattress, writing a diary can help you make sense of the world.
There’s something liberating about expressing anxiety, and working through issues with no fear of judgement or condemnation. Simply getting ‘stuff’ out of your head and down on paper can help the world seem clearer. Writing a diary can be valuable at any age, and if you’re struggling with stress, depression or anxiety, it can be a great way to gain control and improve your mental health.
Why track your mood?
Whether you call it a diary, a journal, or use a mood tracker, recording your feelings can be beneficial in so many ways. It can help identify triggers for bad moods and negative behaviours, and create strategies to manage negativity and harmful impulses. It can also help you take a step back and monitor what works for you and how you can take the right action to turn things around.
Unlock the power of your creativity
We’re all busy, and finding time to fit this new habit – especially when it involves opening up on a blank page – might seem challenging, but getting your thoughts down on the page really can help you create order when your world feels chaotic. It’s positive action and can be relaxing in itself.
- Get into the habit of setting aside a few minutes every day to keep track of your thoughts.
- Do what works – keep a pen and paper handy or use a mood tracking or journaling app if that’s easier for you. Beginners might find the 5 Minute Journal App a good place to start, or try Day One for a wide array of features.
- There’s no wrong answer! You’re expressing your own thoughts and feelings. Write or draw whatever resonates with you. It’s the content that’s important, not the structure, colour scheme, or even the spelling mistakes.
- Think of it as a communication tool, but remember you’re in charge. If it helps you to share with others, do so,
- Remember you’re writing on your own terms, for yourself, but you can also choose to share it with the people in your life. After all, it’s a communication tool, and might help you express yourself when things get tricky.
Make the most of this time by looking at it as relaxation, focusing on de-stressing and winding down. Find a quiet place where you feel comfortable, and can look forward to stretching your emotional muscles. Don’t forget, ‘interesting times’ have their downsides, but can also open the floodgates to unlimited creative and mindful possibilities.