From as early as I can remember I have found great comfort in writing. I would look forward to English all day, especially those lessons when the teacher uttered those magical words ” We’re going to do some creative writing.” I clearly remember telling my year two teacher that when I grew up I wanted to be an author illustrator. Fourteen years on and the only thing that has changed is that I just want to be an author. I have little confidence in my stick man creations.
I’d write poetry, short stories, plays where I’d act out all the parts on my cabin bed ( I was cool ok), and that passion for pen and paper has never dwindled. I wrote my first novella at 18 and am currently 25,000 words into my first full length novel (that’s around 55 pages). I have a pile of notebooks for different things, listographies, productivity notebooks, wanderlust notebooks, you name it, I’ve got a notebook for it. There is something about compartmentalising my life onto pieces of lined paper that I find immensely satisfying. Writing stuff down makes me happy, keeps me motivated and helps me deal with anxiety and negative thoughts. Now I live away from home and really have to be my guidance counsellor it is increasingly harder to deal with down moments, but I’ve recently found it a lot easier to deal with thanks to this little life hack: my positive thinking notebook.
In this post I’m going to show you what I use mine for. It may be something you feel inspired to do yourself.
The first thing you need to do is get yourself a notebook. Buy one especially, so you have one place to track your mood and build on your thoughts and feelings. If you just use an old notebook you found lying around that already has some stuff in it it wont have the same impact. This is your space to write whatever your’e feeling and deal with it. Take the time to treat yourself to some new stationary. Get a notebook with pretty patterns on it or buy a plain one and decorate it like I did. I just got a plain blue notebook and decorated it with some really cool red tape I found in poundland. Use whatever you want. You could use stickers, make a collage of your favourite things or stick a photo of a happy memory on it. Just make it personal and something you want to write in. We’re all about the positivity here remember.
What to put in your journal
The possibilities are endless! Ultimately you want to create something that works for you, something that cheers you up and promotes positive thinking. I’ll show you what I use mine for, but these are just the tip of the iceberg on what you can do with it.
Five things I have achieved today.
Some days we feel like we have done nothing and we beat ourselves up about it. But the truth is we’ve done more than we think we have. All the little things add up. So before I go to bed every night I take the time to think about and write down five things that I have achieved. Some times it’s big things like breaking my record on a run or completing a piece of coursework, other days it’s small things like eating three square meals or keeping hydrated. However productive the day I still make myself write five things. It helps me to focus on the little things I actively do every day to look after myself. This is especially helpful when you’re ill or have a bad day. It’s so easy to think “oh I just spent the whole day in bed.”, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need to do to look after yourself and it’s an achievement to tell yourself to slow down and look out for number one. This exercise is so helpful when I’m in stages of beating myself up over my productivity, healthy eating etc.
The thing I’m most proud of myself today is….
This is normally a generalisation of the themes present in what I’ve achieved today. For example if my achievements are the completion of several tasks, it will be something like ” I am most proud of being able to get a lot of things done and still have time for myself”.If my achievements are more self care based it will be something like ” I am proud of looking after myself and getting through a rough day.” If something stands out, I’ll pinpoint that. Associating positive emotions with seemingly mundane everyday tasks makes you aware of how much you can actually do without thinking about it. You are doing so much better than you realise.
I am currently feeling….
In this bit I am as descriptive or direct as seems fitting on that particular day. Some days it will be several sentences, others a word. But becoming aware of how you feel and the sensations in your body that go with it will make you more mindful of how certain emotions make you feel physically and how certain situations make you feel emotionally. It helps you identify triggers and makes it easier to overcome or prevent a bad mood.
Three things I want to get off my chest
This is where i dump any negative thoughts I’ve been carrying around that day and sort through. I normally only choose three, as it makes me focus on the biggest things that have been bugging me, rather than just picking out every tiny thing that annoyed me. That would be counter productive.
I picked this technique up from a cognitive behaviour therapy book I’m currently reading. What you do is you write down a event and the main thought associated with it. So for example I’ve been comfort eating recently, so my main thought associated with that is “you’re undoing all the good work you did”. Then you pick the feeling(s) you’re associating with that thought, so for me that’s stress and a sense of failure. Then you ask yourself “Is there another way of thinking about this?” and think it through in a more positive and rational way. So for this one I may think “comfort is eating is natural sometimes. You’ve been feeling low and find comfort in food. That’s ok. You’re trying to look after yourself. And you’re not eating half as bad as you think, it’s just you’re now more aware of what’s good for your body and what isn’t.” Challenging your negative thoughts and putting them into perspective quietens that grouchy monster in your head that says you’re doing it all wrong. It’s especially helpful if you’re like me who thinks they should be bringing their A game 24/7. After I’ve worked through a thought I then write down how I’m now feeling in to tune in on how offloading this thought makes me feel. Being aware of how your thoughts links to your mood is a crucial step in getting rid of those pesky negative thoughts.
Something I want to do for myself tomorrow is….
Each day I journal I think of a little something I want to do for me the next day. A little token of self love. It can be anything big or small that you enjoy doing. Painting your nails, buying yourself a coffee, going for a walk, whatever you like. Make a little commitment to do something for you every day.
I love lists. They are great for keeping your brain active and are great on promoting positive thinking and mindfulness. Fill your journal with lists on positive things, to help you plan, create and dream. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
Things I love
Things that inspire me
Things that make me laugh
Films/ TV shows I love
30 great things
Things I like about myself
Inspiring Quotes/ Lyrics
I’m a lyric lover. I love all sorts of music, because I’m enthralled by what the artist is saying more than the genre. I live by inspiring quotes and lyrics and plaster them over my walls. So whenever I find a good one I put it in my journal as a focus point. Find ones that move you, inspire you and motivate you and write them down in pretty fonts, surround them with doodles or crack out the gel pens.
Creating your writing routine
Plan a time each day to write your journal. You may choose to write it at the beginning of the day and focus on goals for the day or in the evening and focus on what you’ve achieved during the day. Or both. It’s totally up to you. Make it an event. Make yourself a hot drink, find a comfy space, put on your favourite music and just write. Give yourself some time to work on you.
Try this out for yourself and let me know how it goes. I’d love to now what you’re writing in yours. Let me know in the comments below.
Until next week,