May 2020: Mental Health Awareness Month Journaling

 As we go into another few weeks of social distancing and slow changes, I would like to offer you some more guidance to help you move through another month of isolation with some great tips on keeping your mental health positive. Here are some of the feelings that are prevalent during this pandemic when your needs are not being met: anxious, scared, frustrated, insecure, worried, envious, annoyed, awkward, hurt, fear, distracted or mad. These are the feelings you should experience when your needs are being met: joy, happiness, thankfulness, gratitude, caring, excited, self-confident, connected, appreciated, affectionate and tranquil are some great feelings.

Anxiety, worry and fear can pop up when you hold the thoughts that you must be able to do it all and it all has to look perfect. Stress will appear when you realize there really isn’t enough time to do your work, help your kids with their schoolwork and get dinner made. Depression can creep in when you feel guilty about connections that have dwindled during this pandemic.

It is alright to have all these feelings, it doesn’t make you a lesser person, it makes you human. The thing that will boost you to “super-human” is how you respond to these thoughts and feelings. Recognize them, appreciate them and learn how you can shift your life so they are not as prevalent during this stressful part of the year. That way you are more prepared when they hit and you are not struggling to find a way to handle the feelings.

Journaling is a great resource to use when you are overly stressed. Keeping a journal can help you fully explore those thoughts, feelings, emotions, pent up tension you may be having. It can help you reduce specific sources of your stress and help you reach your goal of lowering your overall stress.

Journaling can help you manage your stress through: ·        Reducing rumination and constant worrying. ·        Improving your cognitive functioning and creativity. ·        Decreasing various health conditions. ·        Improving your sleep. ·        Examining your thoughts and shifting your perspective. ·        Creating options and other outcomes to situations.

You can use a journal when stress pops up in your life, or use it as a valuable tool for reducing stress around specific issues and preparing for them ahead of time. When we take time to write in our journals, our mind, body and cells calm down and realign. It is an easy form of meditation without the chanting or sitting still for a long time. You can start your day off writing three things you are grateful with an intention for one accomplishment. Or, like me, opt to do your gratitude journal at the end of the day, before you go to bed.

I keep track of things during my day that bring me joy by adding it to a space in my calendar. At the end of the day, I pull it up and go over all the little things that made me more mindful during the day and gave my mind and heart some joy. For example, this morning I did my live feed from my lilac garden as they are blooming and smell amazing- that will be in my gratitude journal for today. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/paulettefs/videos/10222447863082344/

The benefits of writing with gratitude have been studied and shown to be an extremely effective tool for reaching all kinds of goals as well as improving your life on so many levels. Applying gratitude through writing can boost the following: ·        Long term well-being, encourages exercise, reduces physical pain and symptoms, increases quality and length of sleep patterns. ·        Increases your optimism meter, happiness meter and mental health meter. ·        Reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety. ·        Helps push you toward your goals. ·        Makes you friendlier, approachable and a kinder person with more compassion for others around you.

Seek help when you need it. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, this pandemic and social distancing can put a tremendous strain on all of us. If you are feeling constantly sad or anxious, unable to get good quality sleep, irritable and hopeless or unable to focus on routine daily life, you may want to reach out to a professional for help.

As strong as we are, we are still only human and sometimes, it takes a professional to help us move past these feelings and secure more hope, love and light in our lives. Appreciate the fact that these amazing people are here to help us and take advantage of their expertise. It doesn’t make you a lesser person, it makes you smarter and a more emotionally stable person.

So, if you do feel stress coming down on you, take a moment and pull out a notebook, or splurge on a nice journal and write down three things you are grateful for and one accomplishment. Do this every day and see how things shift for you and how this pandemic can be filled with more joy and peace.



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