Ben Higgins' mom on journaling
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In Amy’s Opinion: You Should Journal (Part 1)

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.

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Christina
    November 26, 2018 at 7:25 pm

    Very inspiring and well written. Journaling is very therapeutic and more people should definitely give it a try. It doesn’t matter how much you write, even a couple sentences can help you clear your mind. I journal sometimes. Most of the time I get busy and forget to do it, but I do have the desire to journal more. I just need to be consistent, as I always feel better after I write.

  • Reply
    Lexey
    November 29, 2018 at 10:08 am

    Hi Amy,
    This is some great insight. I have been reading more and more about mindfulness as well as journaling. It is my goal to start journaling on a regular basis by the first of the year. My memory is awful, and I have had so many wonderful experiences in my life, I want to be able to look back on them.
    Thank you for sharing!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family ❤️

  • Reply
    Jessica Hayward
    November 29, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    I love this so so so much and agree 1,000% journaling is very therapeutic. I can’t love this enough, every word resonates so deeply with me. Thank you for sharing and being open!!! <3

  • Reply
    Stephanie Rose
    November 29, 2018 at 9:02 pm

    Wow! Thank you Amy! You are a beautiful writer! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting you a few times mostly at my place(s) of work as well as WCC. I took 4 semesters of creative writing in high school. It’s hard to believe sometimes that I graduated 20 years ago! I recently came across all of my long lost material from those classes. As I read through all of those hand written memories, not only was I overwhelmed with emotion, but also I had a longing to find that voice inside that once spoke from my heart only onto a blank piece of paper. To this day I regret not continuing that passion to connect with myself in that way. I also found all of my old daily journals as well as my prayer journals. There is something to be said about the impact that a hand written letter or card can have on the heart of another person. Social media can be a great way to connect to your mind, but the impact on a human heart will always be greater when we are blessed with the tangible version of what so many of us take for granted in this techno based life. A love letter from and to one another. This Christmas season I will indeed begin journaling once again! Thank you for this beautiful reminder and for taking us “back to the basics” so gracefully!

    • Reply
      Amy Higgins
      December 3, 2018 at 5:46 pm

      I appreciate your kind words. What a special treasure you came across. I love that your past writing has inspired you to begin writing again. Let’s keep the power and gift of the written word alive! Amy

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