Welcome to my first #SelfCareSunday post! We all know recovering from mental health problems isn't linear. We have good days, bad days, amazing days and days we'd rather forget. On the bad days, I find it helpful to look back on tangible evidence of the good days, so I can see that it is possible to feel positive, and to look at how far I've come. On a day-to-day basis, it helps to check in with myself, to pat myself on the back for the achievements, and to consider the challenges and if I've learned anything from it. I decided to keep a journal to document my daily journey to mental health recovery, and here's how.
Of course you're going to want to start with a pretty notebook, or decorate your own. Plus you're definitely going to need some cool gel pens, stickers, or anything else you might want to decorate the inside. You want it to look like something positive, not a school workbook (unless that's what you're into!). Plus, any excuse to treat yourself to new stationary has got to be good, right?! When it comes to writing daily entries, I divide mine into sections.
Accomplishments // The first section I write is a list of every little achievement I've made that day. They can be as earth-shattering or as 'mundane' as you want. No achievement is too small! Remember, what counts as an achievement to you might be fluid. Some days, I find tidying my room or washing my clothes an uphill battle, and other days it's a breeze. If you feel like you deserve a pat on the back for doing something, then you definitely do! No-one else matters. This is your section to celebrate yourself!
Self Care // This section makes me feel accountable and reminds me to take some time for a bit of self-care each day. Looking after yourself and having a moment of peace, self-love, or pampering each day is so important for mental wellness. I've also found writing it down pushes me to think of new and creative self-care to explore, instead of stagnating and doing the same thing every day. Some days I'm super busy, and all I have to write down is that I spent some time on a colouring app I love. Other days, I've decided to dedicate some serious time to self-care, and will have done everything from meditation to a face mask. As long as you're doing something to take care of yourself each day, you're developing a good habit.
Challenges // Writing down what I've found a challenge each day isn't the most fun part, but it helps me to be more self-aware, to examine why something was challenging for me, and what I can do to cope better next time. If I'm noticing something new, I can then talk through it with my therapist, or seek support from friends. It's good to identify struggles, challenges, or triggers to know yourself better, and to understand your needs and coping strategies better.
Thoughts // This is your section to go wild! Write this like a diary of what you did, or how you felt, or draw a picture. It's a free section to write down anything you need to get off your mind or heart, and you can write as much or as little as you want. Be free and put that weight down on paper!
Lesson/Quote // To finish on a positive note, I like to finish with something I've learned from the day, or a quote that resonates with me. It helps tie up everything you've written, and put a positive ribbon on a difficult day, or a big 'hurrah!' on a day that's already been awesome.
I hope this has been helpful, and you can use some or all of this in your own journals. Recovery, and journals, are so personal and no two look identical, so make sure your recovery journal works for you, because that's all that matters! Always remember that recovery is a journey, and there's no such thing as a step backwards.