8 Ways To Use A Journal For Self-Care And Beyond

Journaling is a wonderful way to keep track of your thoughts, memories, and many other things. I was surprised at just how many different ways there are to journal. I chose eight of them to share with you here, but there really is no limit to the way you can use a journal.

Gratitude

A gratitude journal is commonly suggested in self-help and mental health circles. Keeping a journal focused on gratitude is recommended for anxiety and depression, as a part of a mindfulness practice, and for anyone looking for more peace and happiness. You can approach this journal in a few ways, but a popular way is to sit down each evening, and write what you are thankful for that day. For more info and ideas try 5 Steps For Creating A Gratitude Journal and The Ultimate Guide To Keeping A Gratitude Journal.

Dream

Tracking dreams is another common way to use a journal. You keep a dream journal next to your bed, and write your dreams as soon as you wake up. Keeping a record of your dreams can help you find a pattern, and perhaps help you understand why you are having those dreams. Check out Why You Should Keep A Dream Diary  and 7 Tips For Keeping A Dream Journal to learn more.

Reading

Are you a big reader? Keeping a reading journal allows you to do more than keep track of the books you’ve read. You can list out books you want to read, reflect on your thoughts and feelings about them, lessons learned, and more. How To Keep A Reading Journal lays out the steps concisely. You can also print out The MMD Printable Reading Journal for some easy customization.

Travel

You don’t have to be a big traveler to keep a travel journal. Whether you keep an ongoing journal for all of your adventures, or just keep one for a single very special trip, this kind can help you keep your traveling memories all in one place. Travel Journal Ideas: How To Hold On To Your Memories has fantastic tips and suggestions to get you started.

Group or Family Journal

This journal is kept as a group. Perhaps each person writes something everyday, or maybe you take turns. 55 Shared Journaling Ideas has a good explanation and lots of ideas, and I love the approach at How Our Family Journal Started. A Communication Journal For Home and Classroom shows how a group journal can be a wonderful parenting tool. Creating A Family Journal has some lovely ideas too.

Use a Journal for Planning

As I’m sure is obvious, this method has a broad use. Like any planner, you can use a planning journal for daily use, weekly, monthly or yearly. You can also use a journal to plan specific events. For examples, check out bullet journals. They have great layouts for daily, weekly, and monthly.

You can also plan out your garden, keeping track of what works (or doesn’t), or the seasonal changes you see in your garden/neighborhood. Why A Garden Journal Is Your Most Valuable Tool goes into wonderful detail. How To Start Your Own Family Adventure Journal shows one take on a nature journal.

Keeping track of any kind of projects (home improvement, crafts, redecorating, hobbies, etc.) is a great use for a planning journal. Having one place to keep track of your ideas, plans, receipts, successes, and mistakes is really handy. In addition, if you need to look back for any reason, you will have everything right there to see. This YouTube video lays out one way to do it and is a nice example.

Specific Time Period

Instead of having an ongoing journal, you can use one for a very special event/time. Some possibilities I could think of were: wedding, birthdays, senior year, college, and pregnancy. Any event, or time period, that you find important enough to record is perfect for this journal.

Bullet Journal

This is my favorite of journal and the kind I keep. A bullet journal can be any and all of these types all wrapped into one with an index to help you find what you are looking for. Bullet Journal is the original site, but lots of people have their own take on it all over the web. The Bullet Journal, Minus The Hype, Is Actually A Really Good Planner and How To Bullet Journal: The Absolute Ultimate Guide have lots of info. Pinterest has oodles of creative ideas for a bullet journal done anyway you could possibly want.

Basically, if there is anything you want to remember or track there is a way to journal it. The only limitations are that of your creativity or searching skills. Feel free to link below if you have written about your own journaling and would like to share. 🙂 I’d love to hear how you use a journal.

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

 

Are You Worthy Of Love?

The Quote

You are worthy of love

You are worthy of love.

Someone recently asked me what this quote means to me. Why do I believe these words are true? Although the question surprised me, I thought it was a really good one. I gave them an answer after some consideration, but I really wanted to expand on those thoughts further here.

The Question

Why are we worthy of love? What makes me agree that love isn’t something we should need to earn? To me, when a child is born, they deserve love. We would never think to withhold love from them until they earned it. So, why do we think there is some arbitrary age that we suddenly do need to earn love?

flawed, & (still) worthy

The Science

Studies prove that love is as much a necessity as food, water, and oxygen. While we can all agree that it is wrong to withhold these life essentials, we tend to think that we don’t deserve love unless we prove ourselves. Love really is essential to our lives though. Of course it starts in infant-hood, and can make a big difference in how the child thrives or doesn’t. The idea is further pointed out in this blog:

As infants and small children, our first task is to get at least one of our parents to love us enough to meet our needs for sustenance, but also touch. With rare exception, the love and safety hormone, oxytocin, is released into our mother’s body, concentrating the focus of her attention on us … and this loving attention releases the same hormone in our body, ensuring we survive. As critical as food, shelter, sustenance are to our survival, they do not suffice in the early months and first years. Babies do not physically survive without love.

As studies of attachment show, infants and small children actively seek a love bonding with their caregivers. To live, newborns must form some type of bond, regardless whether it feels relatively secure or insecure, with their mother or a “mothering” person, at least one.

Later on, love is still very important. This article points out how our brains actually prioritize it over sex.

While many women may be convinced men’s brains are wired more powerfully for sex, Fisher says there’s evidence men are also powerfully wired for romance.

“Men fall in love faster than women do, because men are so visual,” she notes. “And three out of four people who kill themselves over love are men, not women.”

Fisher adds: “You know, this is a powerful drive, and an essential part of humanity. … It would be very unadaptive if men didn’t fall in love just as powerfully as women.”

You are worthy of love.

This quote puts the responsibility of you on you. It does not say you are responsible for proving love to others. Instead, you are responsible for searching out love for yourself and surrounding yourself with people who are able to provide it.

In other words, while all people do deserve love, this quote is not saying you have to provide it. If someone is a toxic presence in your life, it is okay to love them from a distance. It is their responsibility to find someone who can give them the love they deserve, and there is nothing wrong with that person not being you.

Self-Love

This is where self-love comes in to play. Knowing that you are lovable and worth taking care of will allow you to regulate who you have in your life. It is much easier to release negative people, who you may still love, from your life when you know that it is ok to take care of yourself first. Re-evaluate people in your life who do not add positivity and support. Give serious thought to either cutting them out, or at least scaling way back on how much they are allowed to have influence in your life. I’ve written more on self-love here and here.

Humans are social animals, and can not thrive without outside interaction. In fact, studies have been done showing how damaging solitary confinement is to humans.  We are also wired to need to belong as mentioned in this post of mine. How can anyone think that love is not also wired in as a need and therefore something we do not need to earn or deserve? No, I’m sure you are worthy of love.

If you have any additional thoughts on this subject, please feel free to leave a comment or send an email. 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.

6 Ways to Show Love to Yourself During Recovery

6 Ways to Show Love to Yourself During Recovery

Note: I want to thank the writers from the Westwind Recovery blog for guest posting today. I hope you enjoy their informative post on self-love during recovery.

Learning to love yourself after dealing with addiction is a slow but critical process that allows you to grow as a person. During treatment, you worked through difficult issues that led to your substance abuse, and you have conquered many painful events from your past. Now, it is time to show yourself a little love for all that hard work, and these six ideas will jump-start your efforts at self-improvement.

Spend Time with Your Pet

There is nothing like an animal for teaching you how to love unconditionally. Whether you own a dog, cat or fish, they do not care about the things you might have done in your past. All that they care about is enjoying your love in the present. Make sure that your new sober living arrangements allow pets so that you can bring your pooch or kitten along with you. Spending time stroking your pet’s fur helps to alleviate stress, and you will learn valuable lessons about what it means to have a companion who is willing to stick by your side.

Surround Yourself with Understanding Friends

Letting go of your friends from the past might have been necessary as part of your recovery. While it might be tempting to just live life alone, you should remember that loneliness can be a trigger for relapse. Find people who understand what it means to live with an addiction, and begin putting together a support network that includes a variety of types of people. Whether you meet with a mental health counselor once a week or enjoy chatting with your sober housemate, giving yourself people to open up to is a wonderful way to show yourself that you are valued by others.

Challenge Yourself Physically

Learning how to manage stress is one of the biggest gifts that you can give yourself. Make sure to treat your body with the respect that it deserves by making exercise a regular part of your routine. You can also turn your exercise routines into a mental boost by incorporating challenges into your workouts. For instance, you may choose to master surfboarding for the summer, or you could set reaching a new distance for your hikes as a goal. Hitting your goals will give you more confidence, and your body will quickly respond to your self-love by getting stronger and healthier.

Nurture Your Body with Healthy Food

Recovery is hard on your body, and you might have ignored your nutritional needs while you were dealing with addiction. Start exploring new ways to prepare healthy ingredients that are as delicious as they are nutritious. Consider pairing up with a housemate who loves gourmet cooking, or you could take a class from a nearby chef. Providing your body with the fuel that it needs to function at peak capacity is an important part of loving yourself, and enjoying a tasty meal is just a great way to start and end each day.

Learn Your Favorite Ways to Relax

Indulging in a few pampering sessions is warranted when you have gone so long fighting to get sober. While you can do your best to minimize stress, the truth is that life still goes on. Make sure to have a few tools in your plans for handling times when it feels impossible to relax. Jump in the hot tub, soak up the sun at the beach or just gather around the fire pit for some laughs with your friends. Your mental outlook will change once you discover that it’s possible to relax while you are living a sober life! Once you have a few favorite tricks up your sleeve, make sure to indulge in a pampering session at least once a week. You can even plan five-minute relaxation breaks such as rubbing lotion on your hands or inhaling an essential oil such as lavender so that you can fit little mini-breaks throughout your day.

Keep a Journal of Your Progress

During times of discouragement, remember that you can be your own best friend. Start a journal now that documents your progress, and don’t be shy about listing your achievements. From jotting down a quick note about that random act of kindness you performed at the store to creating a list of the times you made it through a craving, reading back through your shining moments gives you a light to use during times of darkness.

At first, it may seem selfish to show yourself love. Yet, you must nurture your body and spirit if you want to be a better person who can also help others. Use these six ideas as a guide to get started, but keep adding to it as you find out more about what makes you feel best. Then, be sure to share your strategies with others who may need a little boost along the way to a strong recovery.

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Whole Self-Care: Are You Guilty Of Neglect?

I’ve written about the basics of self-care before. (See posts here, and here, and here) I’d like to dig a bit deeper today. Self-care in the media tends to be spas, baths, and face masks. There is much more to it. We need to make sure to care for our whole selves. This means we need to make sure we have our physical, mental, and emotional needs met. Whole self-care can make sure no part is neglected.

Neglecting any of these parts will leave you feeling off, drained, or like something is missing. It can be hard to track down just what is wrong when you are applying self-care, just not covering all the bases.

Whole Self-Care: Are You Guilty Of Neglect?

What type of things do you do for self-care already? Write them all down, in the above categories if you can. Look them over. Do you seem to have a shortage of any category? Is there a larger focus on another?

If you are unsure how to define some of your activities, or just short on actions in one or more groups, check below for ideas:

Physical

  • Daily, enjoyable activity
  • Basic hygiene: shower, wash hair, skin care, etc
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat enough and a variety
  • See doctor as needed
  • Take medication as needed
  • Stay hydrated
  • Hug someone
  • Play with a pet

Mental

  • Have quiet time daily – use it to pray, meditate, or what ever quiets your mind
  • Read
  • Learn something new
  • Cultivate your own hobbies
  • Turn of phone notifications for a time period
  • Talk to a therapist
  • Listen to music
  • Do a craft

Emotional

  • Practice mindfulness
  • Have time out with a friend
  • Go on a date
  • Journal
  • Keep a gratitude list
  • Do extra self-care activities that pamper you: spa days, face masks, flowers for yourself, etc
  • Call a family member or friend to talk
  • Cuddle a pet

Of course this is just a small list of suggestions. There are hundreds of different ways to do self-care, and many can go in more than one category.

I hope you have 3-5 ideas written down under each type now. You don’t want to have too many and get overwhelmed. If you already have a routine for some, it won’t be hard to add a few more though.

Whole Self-Care Plan

Now you are going to want to plan a week. Under each day, make sure you have at least one thing from physical, mental and emotional written down.

For example:

Monday- go on a walk, go to painting class, call mom

Tuesday- dance to music, get coffee with BFF (notice the “dance to music” can cover both physical and mental)

By making sure you have at least one out of each category, you are never going to totally neglect any part of your self-care. When you look over your plan for the week, pay attention to the overall balance. Do you tend to focus more on one area over the others? Is it just one kind of self-care that gets left out? If so, try to add a few more activities from that group into your week.

Overtime, practicing whole self-care, or using a more balanced approach, is sure to make you feel better over all. You will notice it isn’t just the area that was neglected that will improve, but every part of your life will feel more balanced and cared for.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments or feel free to email me at leighbryant@flawedmessylife.com . Also, please join us over at Growing in Self-Acceptance! We are a growing Facebook group forming a community meant to support each other as we grow in our acceptance of ourselves.

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

The 3 Steps I Use To Embrace Change I Want In My Life

Change is hard. Yeah, yeah, you know this. Everyone knows this, but did you know that even simple changes that you want, and you know will make your life immensely better, can be scary?

My Experience With Change

One such change for me was treating my anxiety. I have treated my depression a few times, but never really focused on my anxiety. I finally decided it was likely a bigger problem than I realized, so I made myself an appointment.

While I was eager to treat my anxiety, so it would stop interfering with my life, I also felt very nervous. It wasn’t just nerves over the appointment, which is a familiar feeling. It was something else, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. So I thought about it, and talked it out with my husband. He let me use him as a sounding board, and it was so helpful.

Finally it dawned on me what I was nervous about. I was anxious about not feeling anxious! Now, I’m sure that sounds silly. I know I felt pretty silly at first! Then I thought more about it, and it made sense. I’ve dealt with anxiety most of my life. The idea of not having anxiety was so strange, so unknown, that it scared me. I honestly almost canceled.

I didn’t because I knew there was benefit to treating my anxiety even if the idea was scary. It had to be better to not worry, have tense muscles, struggle to sleep, and have panic attacks on top of other things. I didn’t know what it would be like, but surely it was an improvement.

Of course I was right! Those first few weeks were amazing. Over and over I marveled at how different I felt. I wish I could describe it for you. I realized I was laughing more often and with more feeling than I had in years. My smile was a bigger smile than before. I had no idea that my previous “happy” was so muted. There was still some anxiety, but I wasn’t always thinking of new worries. I also stopped having many of my muscle cramps. (I still get some from my fibromyalgia.) Sleep is still a struggle at times, but now it is only from pain and not anxiety. I don’t have to also fight negative thoughts as I lie in bed trying to fall asleep.

How Can You Apply My Steps?

Yeah, change is scary, but it can be so, so worth it. So, how do you move forward with change if you are scared? Well, first you need to work out why you are scared. There are many ways to do that some options are:

  • Journaling – Sitting down with a blank page and just writing everything down is a very effective method for many people. Whether you use writing prompts, write a letter to yourself, or use the brain dump method, getting it all out and written down in front of you can help you put order to your thoughts.
  • Finding someone to use as a sounding board – This works fantastically for me. A person willing to just listen and let me bounce ideas off of them, like a friend, spouse or family member, helps me make sense of the thoughts ping ponging around in my head. Many times they don’t even need to give any kind of feedback. My thoughts just order themselves as I talk it out. Other times they are able to come up with questions that I didn’t think of, and that’s enough to help me work through my problem.
  • Meditation – This helps for similar reasons as the other two. Meditation can help you slow down your thoughts, and let your brain put some kind of order to them. As you quiet your thoughts, it’s easier for the answer you are looking for to bob to the surface and be clear.

Once you figure out exactly what you are scared of, take a good look at it. Recognize that fear and let yourself feel it. It’s okay if you think the fear is silly or irrational, it’s still a valid feeling! If you can figure out the “why” behind your fear, even better, but it’s okay if you can’t. Really understanding your fear makes it easier to fully acknowledge it and move past.

Now that you have a face to your fear, let’s refocus. I want you to write down every reason you can think of that this change is a good thing. Every reason, no matter how small. We aren’t going for a pro/con list. Remember, this is a change we know is a good idea. We are just getting past the fear, so you can act on implementing this wonderful change.

Once you have that list, read it over and over. Add to it if you think of anything else at any point. Now, take a leap and go for it! When those fears pop up again, remember this list and repeat it to yourself. You can do this! You are worth it!

What change are you working on? How is it going? Do you need any more help working yourself up to going for it? Please share down below, or drop me an email!

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

Figuring Out Your Basic Self-Care Needs

I was never any good at self-care. I was a typical teenager who ate and drank whatever and skimped on sleep. Soon after I was a young mother putting her kids first. That continued about 14 years until about four years ago when things had to change. At around the same time my depression and anxiety got worse and I started suffering from inflammatory arthritis and fibromyalgia. Self care had to become my priority. So how did I figure out what I needed? Mostly I just started with the basics.

Hydration

I’ve always tried to keep my hydration at least at a bare minimum. When it gets too low I get a very bad headaches. Now, I’ve been diagnosed with low blood volume and dysautonomia which require me to hydrate more than the typical 8 cups a day. For most people though, drinking until your pee is light yellow is plenty. This may be more or less than 8 cups. The liquid in food helps too, so if you struggle to drink enough, remember that high water fruits and soups can help.

Eating

If I go too long without food, my blood sugar dips and my depression takes hold. I need to eat every 3-4 hours usually. Not everyone needs to eat as often, but be sure you eat regularly for your body. Don’t skip meals, and snack if you need it. Food is fuel, and your body requires plenty.

I’ve also learned what type of foods make me feel better and what doesn’t. I know I need the right mix of protein and carbs to feel good. Other people feel better with their own mix. Whatever kind of foods that make you feel best is your right way to eat.

Sleep enough

This one is still hard for me. I need plenty of sleep to help manage multiple conditions. I’m also a night owl, and those two don’t always mesh well. I try to make it a priority to get to bed at a reasonable hour most of the time. I’m lucky enough to be able to nap on the days I need it. Sleep is important, so I don’t let myself feel guilty if I need more.

Find out how much sleep you need and make it a priority. Take a look here and see if you can improve your sleep hygiene any. A longer and deeper sleep will be better for you.

Quiet time by myself

I’m married with four kids; quiet time is hard to come by, and it’s even rarer to get it by myself. Not everyone finds this necessary, but as an introvert, I find it vital. My anxiety goes up if I don’t get enough alone time. If I can get even 10-30 minutes alone in my room, it helps a ton. The rare days that I can get an hour or more, I make sure to take it, no guilt involved. The wasn’t always the case, but I’m a better person all around if I get my alone time.

Past the common self-care basics

Like my quiet time, not everyone’s necessities are the same. Sit down and think about what makes you function best. What makes you feel off if it is left out? That is how I figured out I need to be sure to shower every other day. I’ve learned that I’m likely to want to skip a shower when my depression is acting up. As part of my self-care when it comes to depression, I make sure I don’t let myself skip a shower if at all possible. If I find myself dreading shower time, I know I need to get one anyway and then do some extra self-care to help fight the depression.

Once you have your basics figured out and are able to take care of them regularly, then you can expand and add more into your self-care routines. Start small though so you don’t get overwhelmed and burned out right away.

If you have any questions or requests for more on self-care and working out your routines, leave a comment or feel free to email me!

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

Self Care: 5 DIY Spa Day Recipes

Sometimes it’s fun to have a spa day at home. You get to pamper yourself in the comfort of your own space. It may be the introvert in me that prefers that, I’m not sure. Anyway, when you plan a spa day, you either make sure you have stocked up on your favorite products, or plan to make some yourself.

Personally, I enjoy making them myself if it is cheap and easy to do. I have a Pinterest board filled with DIY recipes that are, for the most part, simple and use ingredients you can find at your local store.  Most are untried by us, so my daughter and I tried five recipes to share with you.

The Recipes

DIY Exfoliating Honey Sugar Scrub

Honey Sugar Scrub in a small mason jar

We found the optional olive oil in this recipe didn’t mix in well, so we recommend leaving it out. It did a great job exfoliating in the shower, and my daughter gave it two thumbs up. She chose lavender E.O. to add to it, but there are a few to choose from at Walmart, Walgreens, etc.

Raspberry Lemonade Sugar Lip Scrub

I couldn’t find raspberry lemonade, so we used pink lemonade. This turned out very sour, so I wonder if you are meant to use the “sugar added” type. According to C, this DIY version works even better than my store bought lip scrubs. She gives it two big thumbs up, so I plan on figuring out how to lessen the pucker level.

Oatmeal Coconut Cookie Scrub

Unrefined coconut oil gives you the coconut scent, but you can go with the refined type if you would rather scent it with essential oils. Although it doesn’t affect the scrub any, I’m not thrilled that this separates out as it sits. You aren’t going to want to make it too far ahead of when you plan on using it, or give it as a gift. That said, it did a lovely job as a scrub and left C’s skin very soft.

Lemon Vanilla Bath Bombs

C was most excited to make and try this one. She was frustrated to read they have to sit at least 6-8 hours (overnight is even better).

I almost didn’t include it because of the dried lemon rind ingredient. It cost more than I wanted to spend at the store. Instead, I bought three lemons to zest myself, but ended up not having near enough once we dried it in the oven. We estimate we had maybe a 1/2 T compared to the 3-4 T it called for. To make up for it, we chose to add a couple extra drops of E.O.

We haven’t been able to use them in a bath yet, but I can already report that they are sorta a flop. When I tried to get them out of the molds this morning, they crumbled all over. They aren’t holding together at all. 🙁 (UPDATE: Most of the bath bombs actually did pop out ok, and my kids had fun using them in baths. This was a bigger win than expected, but we plan on searching for another recipe we like better.)

Oatmeal Milk Bath

We haven’t had a chance to test this one. It was very simple to mix up, and should store well in an airtight container.

We just used the non-fat that is found at the store, since I couldn’t find “whole fat dried milk”. Whole oatmeal can possibly clog your drain, and that isn’t very relaxing, so I like using ground up oatmeal for this.

My daughter and I had so much fun making these up to test out. If you would like us to do this again with some more recipes, let us know in the comments. Feel free to share your favorite recipes too! I’d be happy to pass those on to my other readers.

Leigh

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