By Amy Higgins
I want to encourage you to begin putting your thoughts into words. I’m not talking about writing on social media. I want you to use a paper and pen, and do some personal, “nobody else’s business” writing!
Everyone needs to address mental health and the devastating effects of mental illness. We need to be proactive, implementing practices that help maintain the latter and manage the former.
Some of us are healthier than others. I can recognize this. For years, I carried a secret, a mental burden — the fact that I was sexually assaulted during a past dating relationship. More recently, I struggled with my role as the daughter of aging parents, with their lifestyle transitions and my father’s Parkinson’s disease.
As the years march on, I wonder if our minds are suffering from information overload — the stressors of trying to apply all that technology spits out at us.
Have we lost the desire to contemplate information before we respond? Are we afraid that taking time to think will delete us from the conversation? Do we consider if the chatter makes us mentally stronger?
The written word and mental health
I’ve never been much of a journaler, although I’ve longed to be one. With my lack of memory and personal stuff, I most certainly should be.
I’m certain that having a safe place to express oneself openly and honestly is so healthy. In fact, research proves that expressive writing can help manage depression, anxiety, and stress.
I love that journaling can be messy and lack structure and composition. Just me, with no concern for opinion, political correctness, or point. A beautiful exercise in emptying my mind and heart. I would imagine over time you may begin to glean insight into oneself through that freedom.
Consider these journaling prompts
Do I see myself as healthy or in need of healing? Am I encouraged or discouraged, afraid or brave, happy or sad? How are the seasons of my life ebbing and flowing? Am I able to see the “big picture” of my life as I revisit my journal entries over time? Do I express a consistent “view” of the world and people around me?
Geez! Why on earth can I not get myself to journal?!
Poetry. That’s what I do instead. Some may consider it a form of journaling. I am not so sure. But I do feel that poetry affords an outlet for openness and freaky vulnerable. Poetry is more intentional, a tad more structured, and strives for purpose. Perhaps poetry is not as “free” as journaling, but I still find it to be a healthy way to put thought to paper.
Stay tuned for how poetry and my mental health collided. [UPDATE: You can read part two here!]
Do you journal? Try it this week, and let us know how it goes.