I want to share my JEMCA with you (no, it’s not dangerous), five ways of self care that have improved my quality of life. I hope that you can find them helpful as well. Also, who doesn’t love creating new words and acronyms.
First things first, as in, let’s start with the J to my JEMCA, journalling. My first step of self-care.
When I was a little girl, I found so much joy in writing in my diary. I loved writing about who I was currently in love with, where I spent my holidays, what new ways my brother found to tease me, but really mostly, who I was in love with. My diary was not always up-to-date then, considering I would turn to writing only every few months, while my loveships as a 8-year-old did not always last a whole week. Since someone had given me this cute little book that had a lock attached to it, I did feel the need to write something juicy before swallowing the key to that lock so no one would ever be able to open it. (Wait.. what?)
I wasn’t as serious about personal development as I am now.
Then, a few years ago (at least ten, am getting old), I had the urge to write again. First, I bought a pocket calendar because I loved the structure of it. I would write an itinerary of my life: the places I would travel to, the people I would spend time with, and how often I ate noodles for dinner.
Those calendar diaries are fun to read: I like discovering what I did on the 17th July seven years ago, and whether or not I actually did have noodles for dinner that day. It also helps if you ever have to apply for a visa, or want to claim travel in your tax return. I get that not everyone is into those sort of things. Slowly, but surely, I couldn’t fit everything I wanted to write about in my calendar diary, so I started journalling.
To begin with, I followed the same pattern for my journal that I have known before. I would only sit down to write every couple of weeks or even months. Still, something had changed already (despite from being in love with the same guy all throughout), my mind felt clearer and decluttered after writing.
Giving my emotions room to develop became easier once I started writing.
Which in turn gave me a chance to overcome negative emotions. I wasn’t reaping all the benefits yet, since I hadn’t yet discovered consistency, but I was also still a teenager and ‘I WANT CONSISTENCY’ was not what I wanted to paint on every wall in every town. This kind of ‘erratic journalling’ was still part of the process and would lead me to learning about the law of attraction and manifesting the life we desire (more on that in a later post).
Since I’ve started my journey of self-discovery (I like thinking of Keanu Reeves, naked in a tub, waking up from the Matrix, but I guess that has nothing to do with this really), these were some of my tools of choice: diary calendars, scattered diary entries of how I was feeling, and some attempts utilising the law of attraction. These tools are useful and all part of my journey.
How else would I have ever found out how beneficial journalling is for me, if not by giving it a red hot go.
Here are two types that I’ve only discovered THIS year and that rapidly increased the benefits of journalling for me: Gratitude Journals and Daily Journal Prompts.
These are fairly similar, and both brought me what I was long searching for, but not publicly demanding as a teenager: continuity.
I started with a gratitude journal, writing every day, for 30 days. I would write about at least one thing I was grateful for. It changed my attitude towards all the small things in life that we tend to overlook but that are worth getting excited about. The magic had worked. Spending more time to be grateful rewired my brain.
There is always something to be grateful for. If you struggle to find something, check your pulse.
There is a difference between finding something to be grateful for, and thinking all we should ever feel is grateful. We need to get sad, angry and frustrated sometimes. This message only aims to shift your focus. We still have the same right to feel any negative emotions, but, at the same time, should aim to find balance and not dwell on negativity. Counting your blessings helps.
If you want to try this for yourself and are looking for a little guidance, check out this free gratitude journal by Lauren from Girl of the Soul. It includes tips on how to avoid repetitiveness and will help you commit to journalling through beautiful daily templates. An amazing way to fast forward to getting the most of your journalling.
If you are not new to journalling, or are looking for answers to some specific questions, like ‘why do I always get cranky on a Thursday afternoon’, try to formulate some of the questions you are asking yourself at the moment, and then commit to answering them again and again, every day, for 30 days. Some days it might feel like you’re not gaining much insight at all, but stick with it. You don’t want to miss the day when answering your daily questions will bring you to tears, or make you laugh out loud, because you have found the answer within yourself as to why you always get cranky on a Thursday afternoon.
You are bringing thoughts to paper that might have only been lingering in your subconsciousness before. Even if you were aware of them before, your very busy mind will be thankful for some relief. Journalling is a great way to learn about yourself, and to fast-track your emotions unfolding, so that you can process them. Give it a go, and stick with it. One day you might surprise yourself with the answer you have been looking for everywhere, even though you have answered that question 28 times already.
Below are some examples of daily journal prompts I have used before. Some at the same time, but not all at once.
Who did you spend time with today? What did you spend your time doing? How did you feel (about the people/activities)? Did you have any worries or fears today? What are you grateful for today? What questions do you have today? What are you curious about? What have you learnt today? What made you laugh today? What words/advice did you need to hear today?
Click here for Part 2 and to find out about the E to my JEMCA. What do you think it stands for? Eggs? Earthworms? Enamelware?