Journal Prompts for Self-Acceptance

Sometimes you know exactly what you want to write in your journal, and sometimes you need a little help to get going. Journal prompts come in handy for times like that. In this post I’ve got 11 journal prompts for you to use when working on self-acceptance.

  • What are my strengths?
  • What are my values?
  • If I wasn’t afraid, I would _____.
  • What does my inner critic tell me? How am I wrong?
  • 10 things that cheer me up are …
  • If I could tell my past self anything, I would say _____.
  • What am I proud of?
  • My best personality trait is _____. Why?
  • Tape a picture you love of yourself into your journal . Why did you pick this one?
  • 10 interesting facts about myself.
  • What three words would my closest friends use to positively describe me?

If you like this idea, let me know and I can make more lists of journal prompts.

New here? Wondering why you’d want to journal? Curious but not sure how to get started? Check out these links and see what you think.

Journal Writing – 5 Smart Reasons Why You Should Start Doing it Today 

8 Ways to Use a Journal For Self-Care and Beyond

7 Electronic Alternatives to a Paper Journal

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

My Favorite Posts from 2017

I’m writing this later than I meant to, but I really liked the idea of a round-up of my personal favorite posts, so I’m cranking it out anyway.

We are going to start this list with the 2017 blog post that got the most views. This Lazy Woman’s Guide to Housework was incredibly popular with you all! If you enjoyed that one, you’ll likely enjoy 12 Extremely Useful Spoonie Cleaning Tips also.

Next up is Resource Roundup: Over 25 Amazing Sources for Info on Self-Acceptance and More. I love this post! It took a ton of work, but there are just so many great links, it was well worth it. I look forward to making another similar post this year.

I felt 12 Signs You Have Low Self-Esteem and 7 Ways to Overcome Low Self-Esteem were a great complimentary set of posts. If you haven’t yet, please check them out, and share them on Facebook and Twitter! Or, maybe, Pin them for later.

The Fundamental Key to Happiness made the list since it’s a great post to get the main idea of my blog and why I’m doing this. (My Inspiration For This Blog pt 1 and pt 2 gives more insight.)

The Value of Selfies was really fun to write. I’ve never felt like selfies were a bad thing, and what I found supported that. Give it a read and see all the benefits from selfies!

5 Myths About Body Acceptance makes the list because I feel it is a very important message. Getting the word out about body acceptance is critical, but fighting the lies and misunderstandings is just as crucial.

Finally, I’m adding 38 Things I’ve Learned So Far in My 38 Years. It was fun to share so much about myself with you all. If you would head over to that post and leave a comment telling me something you learned in 2017, that would be awesome! I’d love to hear from you!

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

It Took 20 Years To Get Treatment For My Anxiety

Looking back I think my anxiety started more than 20 years ago at about the age of 17. I don’t really recall any symptoms before then. I didn’t like all eyes on me, but I was still able to do everything I wanted to do.

Early symptoms

At 17 I started working at Wal-Mart. Overall, I enjoyed it there even with the amount of people I needed to deal with and the pressures the job had. Still, I would find myself unable to force myself into work some days. As I drove closer, I would tear up, and if I made it to the parking lot I would hyperventilate and not be able to stop crying. I didn’t realize I was having a panic attack. On those days I would usually swing by my boyfriend’s house halfway to work and ask him to call me in sick.

He was a huge support for me. I always called him my personal Valium or Xanax. I’m married to him now, and he still has an amazing gift when it comes to soothing me. Since early in our relationship I relied on him to calm me and make me feel safe. It didn’t occur to me that I shouldn’t need another person to calm me down. At first because I was only 17, and then because it was just how things had always been. I thought it was sweet.

Diagnosis

Over the next few years I began avoiding new situations, places, etc. For example, my husband learned to not suggest a new restaurant for us to try. I reliably had a panic attack anytime I would attempt such a thing, and declining the suggestion would also bring one on as I panicked at the idea of disappointed someone.  Some days would be so bad that I couldn’t even bring myself to get food in front of extended family at a get-together.

In my early 20’s a set of circumstances escalated my symptoms in a way that left me misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder. In actuality I had depression and generalized anxiety (along with social anxiety) that wasn’t treated. Still, we got my symptoms down to where I could function and be a better mother.

Things get worse

Over the next 10 years I would have two more kids (4 total) and be on a few different treatment plans. In between, the types of situations that brought on my panic attacks increased. On one occasion I was asked to join in a game at my child’s scout meeting. Although I didn’t want to, I went along with it and held myself together until it was my turn. Suddenly I panicked and ran out. Sitting on the step crying, I was so embarrassed. Even more so, I was so grateful to my child and the troop leaders for their understanding. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to go back into the room, and we went home soon afterward.

Another time I was determined to take my oldest to their first clogging lesson. As we drove past the building, I just couldn’t make myself stop and go inside. There was an unexpectedly full parking lot, and it was overwhelming to me. I felt like a failure as a parent, but I knew that I would have a full panic attack if I tried to push myself. I’d learned that lesson at the scout meeting. So, I explained what was going on, apologized to my child, and we drove home. Again, I’m so thankful for the understanding they were able to give me even at a young age. We were able to make it to the next lesson, and since I was familiar with things from then on, there wasn’t another time that I couldn’t do it.

During all of this, it never occurred to me that anxiety was the problem, nor that it could be treated. It wasn’t until my early to mid 30’s that I finally looked for answers.

Getting treatment

It was my tight muscles that did it. No matter how much stretching I did I couldn’t get my neck/shoulders and my calves to relax. After some Googling I came to the conclusion it was likely anxiety, and I decided I should talk to someone about it.

I had just restarted treatment for depression, so it was just a matter of mentioning it at my next appointment. Surprisingly, I was so scared! Talking it out with my husband, I figured out I was nervous about the idea of not being anxious.

Although I hadn’t realized it at the time, looking back I had anxiety for so long (almost 20 years!) that the idea of not being anxious was completely strange and scary.

Asking for treatment is the best thing I could have done. It’s hard to describe the relief I felt once I noticed the anxiety receding. A whole new world opened up to me, and I felt such gratitude! I’m still working on overcoming the last bits of my social anxiety, but most of my general anxiety seems to be under control.

And then there’s today

With my most recent meds adjustment, I’m doing really well. Just prior to this, I was doing okay, but still had some struggles.

It was most noticeable at night. Lying in bed intrusive thoughts popped into my head, and I had to distract myself so I didn’t spiral down into self loathing. Telling myself the negative thoughts aren’t true is only so effective at night. There is too much time to think. When that is an issue, games on my phone help me through the worst of it usually. Once my mind quiets down a bit, I move on to listening to music. Music helps me to fall asleep, and in the morning the thoughts are a distant memory that I know to not be real. This was a problem almost every night, so I knew my meds weren’t quite right.

I went in to discuss it and we made adjustments that improved my anxiety and also decreased some side effects I was dealing with. At this point, I’m doing much better, and I’m very happy with our choice.

I’m confident that, while there will be ups and downs, my anxiety will continue to improve. Continued learning, pushing myself, and support from loved ones will make a big difference.

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

My Holiday Musts

When it comes to the holidays, some things I try to do every year no matter what. Whether I’m looking forward to the festivities, dreading them due to depression/anxiety, or not able to do much due to a chronic illness flare, this doesn’t change. These are my holiday musts.

Songs

I’m not the type that likes to play Christmas music much. I hate how it is everywhere once Halloween is over, and I don’t listen to it on the radio. There are a few songs that tend to get in my head though and just scream “holidays” to me. Let it Snow and It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas are two of those songs.

Movies

There are a ton of holiday movies out there, but there are three that are my faves and I make a point of watching every year. Even when I feel like crap, it’s comforting to curl up on the couch with my kids and watch a movie.

White Christmas is an oldie but a goodie. Great music, beautiful costumes, and dancing, what more can you ask?

The Santa Clause and The Santa Clause 2 have been favorites of my family ever since they came out. I’m not a fan of the third movie, but I never get tired of the first two in the trilogy, and that’s why they are holiday musts.

Activities

Songs and movies don’t take any energy, so they are easy whether I have any oomph or not. What about other activities? What are the baseline things I like to squeeze in each year? Well, to start with, we have a tree every year. Some years it is a tiny 2′ tall fiber optic tree, other years we get our 4′ tree put up with lights, ornaments, and skirt. My mom always gets another full sized tree set up down in her living area where there is more room.

I also get my lighted garland up on the banister every December. We don’t do outside lights, or really any other lights, but the garland is easy enough it goes up year after year.

multicolored lights on an evergreen garland wrapped around a banister with a wooden shelf with knick knacks, a pink and black painting, and part of a tv in the background

Speaking of lights, I try to drive the kids around to see at least a few blocks of lit houses. Ideally we like to check out a few different neighborhoods, but I’m not always up to that.

We buy candy canes every year, even if they aren’t going to fit on the tree. I love eating them, and the kids love them too. This year we bought a few different flavors and also a box of miniature peppermint canes to add to hot cocoa and coffee.

There are a few things I make sure happen because they are important to the kids.

Just for the kids

First, is the tree present. I can’t remember when we started this tradition, but I bet it was around 15 years ago. What I do remember is that I was looking for traditions to start with my family and ran across the story of The Christmas Pickle. The idea was to hang up a pickle ornament and the first child to find it got an extra present. We didn’t want either of our two (at the time) left out, so we just hid a small present for each. I did that for a couple years. Then I didn’t think it was any big deal, so I didn’t one year. They missed it so much, I’ve been very careful to never miss out again. All four of our kids enjoy this tradition, and it’s the first thing they do each Winter Solstice or Christmas morning (depending on when we celebrate that year).

Another of our holiday musts is an electric toothbrush in the stocking. This one seems boring, maybe, but my kids really get a kick out of a new electric toothbrush each year. When they were little, we got really fun ones, but they get the more “boring” adult versions now. That didn’t stop my 12 year old from repeatedly asking if they were for sure getting the toothbrushes again.

So, those are my holiday musts that we make sure get done every year. Do you have any holiday musts? What kind of traditions do you make sure happen every year?

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

Finding My Holiday Spirit With Hygge

Depression and anxiety can take the fun out of the holidays. The fatigue, low moods, poor stress tolerance and apathy makes holiday stuff feel overwhelming or pointless. It’s really hard to be excited about decorations, gifts, and songs when it all feels futile.

I haven’t enjoyed the holidays for quite awhile. It’s probably been close to 7 years since I looked forward to this time of year, so it’s a fading memory for me. I really miss that excitement and fun though, and I’m in a better mental place now, so I’m determined to rediscover my holiday spirit.

When I started thinking about it, I tried to place what the base feeling was that I was looking for. “Cozy” seemed to fit best. So much of the holidays centers around that concept. It seemed to me that if I could embrace keeping things cozy around the house it would really encourage me to get into the holiday spirit, and that’s when I started exploring the idea of hygge.

Hygge

For awhile now I’ve seen hygge mentioned around the internet, but never had any interest in finding out more. I had the general idea that it had to do with being “cozy”, but that’s about it. Hygge – pronounced [hoo-ga] is the Danish concept of coziness created when enjoying good food, drinks, and fireside times with friends and family. I’ve decided to focus on four aspects for myself.

Holiday Lighting

We don’t have a fireplace, so I’m needing to make do with creative lighting. Our Christmas tree was the first place we started.

My xmas tree with red and white lights, candy canes, and a red and silver robot ornament

I’m loving the lights C put on the year. It reminds me of a candy cane!

Another set of lights we do each year is our banister. We use some lighted garland here.

multicolored lights on an evergreen garland wrapped around a banister with a wooden shelf with knick knacks, a pink and black painting, and part of a tv in the background

This is something we have consistently done even when I couldn’t be bothered to do any other decorating.

New this year is my living room window idea. We’ve been leaving this ivy/holly garland up year round but I’ve wanted to make it a bit more pulled together looking. So, searching for “hygge” decorating, I saw some pics that gave me this idea.

white lights and ivy garland wrapped around a curtain rod above my window with cream horizontal blinds covering the window

So, I bought this string of white LED lights and wound it around the curtain rod with the garland. This will stay up year round, and I’m loving it!

Holiday Scents

Yummy cooking/baking smells really add to a cozy atmosphere. In fact, when trying to sell a house it is a common tip to bake cookies before an open house.

I like to use wax melts to add fragrance to our home. I own two warmers (in my bedroom and living/dining room) and often have two different scents going at once.

Owl wax warmer with a evergreen and red/black plaid background and an infant picture of my son.stained glass wax warmer with pastel flower shapes on a wooden table. background is blue and white tissue paper

Some of my favorite scents for fall and winter are vanilla, caramel, praline, and spices like cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. I prefer the melts from Tuscany Candle and Oak & Rye out of others at the stores local to me. There are different brands you can order online or at home parties, but I don’t like that method of buying them. I like to be able to smell them in person, and grab one or two while I’m already out shopping.

Candles are not used nearly so often in my home, but we do have a few Pet Odor Exterminator Candles we light now and again to help with the pet smell (three dogs and a cat will do that). I recently bought a Pumpkin & Spice scented one from our vet for the holiday season.

Winter Comfort

One of my favorite parts of colder weather is being able to feel snuggly in sweaters and fleece. I have sensitive skin, so I need very soft sweaters. Nothing itchy for me! Leggings are my go-to pant option since they are so gentle for my fibro body. We found some wonderful soft and perfectly warm (not too hot) fleece lined leggings at Wal-Mart this year.

Cuddling up under soft blankets is wonderful also, so we keep our heaters turned just a few degrees lower to make evening snuggles possible. We have an assortment of fleece blankets and also crochet blankets that my grandma and mom made for us. They keep us warm and inspire wonderful memories.

Honeycat curled up on bed
Cooler temps inside encourage pet cuddles too.

Soft, warm socks are another way to feel snuggly, cozy. I love soft wool socks, but they can be hard to find in my size, so I have some fuzzy fleece ones too. Cold feet are never fun, so why not make sure your feet are warm and comfy?

pink fleece socks with white stripes and designs on them

Food and the Holidays

I think most people would agree that cold weather calls for soup, roasts, and other crock pot friendly meals. We eat these year round, but definitely more so during fall and winter.

Crock pot meals are especially nice because they make your house smell yummy much of the day. I love getting the work done early in the day so we don’t need to worry about it later when we are worn out.

Baking is great for making the house smell good too. Also, since the oven usually heats the house up, winter is a lovely time to bake more rather than summer. You could even take this a bit further and bake gifts for friends, family, and neighbors!

With any decision to make a change it is important to not take on too much at once. That’s why I’ve chosen these four hygge concepts to start with. They are easy to add into what we are already doing, and are, in some cases, simply ways to up my self-care game. No pressure, just enjoyment.

What do you like to use to feel cozy?

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

So Grateful In 2017

If you live in the United States, you probably just finished a few days worth of visiting with family & friends and filling up with yummy food. I hope you had a wonderful time! This time of year, as we close in on the holidays, it is common to find yourself thinking about what you are grateful for in your life. 2017 was full of changes and realizations for me. I wouldn’t change any of it, but what am I most grateful for?

Give Thanks

This Blog

More accurately, I’m so glad I was able to find the nerve to start blogging. Writing for my blog encouraged me to learn about blogging, different forms of social media, marketing a blog, video, and much more. It also drove me to look further into the types of self acceptance I want for myself. I’ve spent a lot of time this year examining who I am, why I do things, and how my thinking helps or hurts me. Although I haven’t written anything over the past few months, I’ve still been on my Twitter and Instagram accounts, and I love the people I’ve found there.

So, my blog as brought me knowledge, growth, and community. What’s not to love?

Still life with a white chair in a field with a basket of flowers next to it and a bowl of pears and some orange flowers on it. Grateful 2017

My Doctors

I’m very grateful to have doctors who listen to me and work to improve my life quality. While I still have daily pain, need to work around my dysautonomia, and deal with my anxiety and depression, it is so much better than it was last year. So many people have doctors who won’t listen to them and/or are satisfied with providing a low-level of care. My doctors have worked to find answers for me, and strive to be sure I am getting the care I need to have a good quality of life, not just the bare minimum to get by.

A white plate with a piece of pumpkin pie on it with whipped cream. The plate sits on a wooden table and has three pine cones next to it. Grateful 2017

My Husband

My husband of over 20 years is incredibly supportive. Anytime I have an interest I’d like to explore or expand on, he backs me. His support of me and this blog has been amazing. I can think of a few times I may have quit if it wasn’t for him. He believes in me more than I do half of the time, although I’m working on that.

In addition, the patience, understanding, and willingness to learn about my chronic illnesses that he shows is so appreciated. Dealing with this stuff can be really hard, and a supportive partner makes all the difference. He listens to me on my bad days, and we try to take full advantage of my good days. I’m really glad I have him with me on this journey.

As we head into the holiday season, I hope to get a lot more writing done. My goal is to post more often, but try to keep them short for now. Be sure to subscribe to stay updated!

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

7 Electronic Alternatives To A Paper Journal

If you like the idea of keeping a journal on the computer or your phone, you have plenty of options. In fact, you are bound to find a perfect match no matter what your preferences. I was amazed at all the electronic alternatives to a paper journal.

(Wondering why or how to keep a journal? Check out my post 8 Ways to Use a Journal For Self-Care and Beyond)

Electronic Alternatives: 7 Types/100+ Options

I’ve separated the options into seven main categories: on the computer, a private blog, an online journaling site, web apps, note applications, distraction free writing apps, and phone apps. Honestly, many of the options I found span more than one of these categories, but I’m splitting them up to make choosing a bit easier.

Your options on the computer

These are kind of obvious, but I never thought of it. If you want to keep it super simple and just get your thoughts down, the Notepad or Microsoft Word apps work great. You can even password protect the document to keep it super private. The process for setting a password is different for each program, but it is easy enough to look up.

Any office suite works well, and if you are already using one for work, you should stick to it so your stuff is all in one place. If you are looking to install one, there are many choices other than Microsoft Office. That isn’t my specialty, so here is the link to 9 of the Best Free and Low Cost Alternatives to Microsoft Office. I’ll let them cover your options.

I thought of you Apple fans also — The 6 Best Office Suites for Your Documents, Spreadsheets, and Presentations

Female presenting person sitting on couch with laptop on lab. Hands have painted nails and look to be typing. * electronic alternatives *

You might like a private blog

If you really want to put your journal online, a private blog might be just the thing for you. This option is appealing if you would like the opportunity to selectively share your journal, or enjoy having many choices for personalizing it. Choose from one of these popular blogging sites, and make sure you set the privacy settings to private:

You can also use Twitter (set to private) if you think posting in 140 characters or fewer works well for you. 5 Ways To Use Twitter As An Online Diary has some neat ideas.

Designated online journals

These sites are designed to be a personal journal. A couple of options are Penzu, 750 words, and 280daily. The site that wrote those articles also wrote this one naming some more options . You will find 5 personal journals mentioned in the article 7 Best Free Online Private Diary Sites. The other two ideas listed are blogging sites I’ve already mentioned. I found more ideas at Top10Reviews, which has more specific suggestions. If you want an electronic alternative for a travel journal, food journal, therapy journal, etc., check out their article.

light skinned hands with polished nails look ready to type on a laptop sat on a desk in the daylight. photos are arranged in a grid on the screen. *electronic alternatives*

Web apps

If you would like to have access to your journal anywhere you go, online apps might work better. These are different from the journaling sites in that they are online office suites and used for many purposes.

Google Docs is a good example of this. You can use it on any computer and also on your phone. While Google Docs is well known, there are quite a few other options. PC Mag has a great round up of The Best Office Suites of 2017 which covers both PC and Mac options. If you already use an office suite for work, you might want to also use it for journaling to keep things simple.

Note applications

Another option would be one of many note applications. Evernote is a popular one. I recently started using it, though not for journaling, and I love how many choices it has for input.

A screenshot of my Evernote App showing input options. * electronic alternatives *
Actual screenshot of my Evernote App

Other suggestions would be Onenote and Pocket. I also found this source that has a spreadsheet with about 75 suggestions for replacing Springpad which was a favorite for years. Check out this article from Zapier also– Evernote, OneNote, and Beyond: The 14 Best Note-Taking Apps.

Distraction free writing apps

Something else I found were “distraction free writing apps”. These have nothing else on the page, so you are forced to focus on your writing. Write In Peace With These Distraction-Free Editors covers many options to check out. 9 Minimal Word Processor Apps for Distraction-Free Writing has a nice mixture of paid vs. free and Mac vs. Windows options.

a laptop with a black screen is open on a desk with a blank notepad to the left and a cell phone to the right. a pen sits on the notepad. * electronic alternatives *

Phone apps

A phone app makes sure you can make an entry to your journal anytime and anywhere. There are a bunch of options available for both Android and Apple phones/tablets, but not all of them are worth the download. Mark Krynsky, who wrote the article Top 5 Smart Journal Apps, has great criteria for judging a good smart journal. Check out his article for some solid apps to choose from.

a phone screen with assorted app icons on it * electronic alternatives *

If after all that you still aren’t sure what the right choice is for you, try clicking on one or two from each category until something catches your eye. Give it a try for a week or two and see what you think. It doesn’t hurt anything to keep trying new ones until you find the right match.

And, if you aren’t someone who wants to keep an electronic alternative, stay tuned. I’m working on a post about some great pen and paper options for those who like to keep it old school. Be sure to subscribe so you see when my next post is here!

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

 

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