I guess I first started ‘journaling’ when I was a teenager… Inspired by my mum who kept a daily diary, I started to do the same, but found it soon turned from an account of the things I’d done that day to how the things that had happened that day made me feel.
It was something I continued on and off for most of my 20s and 30s, finding it a good way to offload, vent, celebrate achievements, and feel sorry for myself, all without involving anyone else. I found it very therapeutic, but didn’t really know why.
It was only when I started my counselling training in my late 30s that I realised how important journaling had become to me, and how beneficial it really was to my mental health.
And now I'm hoping to inspire you start writing too.
Staring at a blank piece of paper (or screen) can feel daunting though, so here are some tips to help you begin:
Remember, it’s not a test! Write as little or as much as you want.
It doesn’t have to go anywhere, it doesn’t have to be full sentences, and it doesn’t need to end of a positive note.
It’s not for everyone, but I invite you to give it a go and see how you get on. It isn't a substitute for professional counselling, if that's what you need, but it can be an invaluable when it comes to processing thoughts and feelings on a regular basis.
Until next time...
Something that crops up again and again in counselling sessions is the debilitating effect that anxiety and unwanted thoughts can have on clients’ ability to sleep. And of course, most of us have been there…. At the end of the day, we climb into bed, hoping to drift into a deep and peaceful sleep, when our minds decide that now would be a good time to start thinking about everything that’s going on in our lives just now, and we lay tossing and turning for hours instead.
So here are a few ideas that may help you fall into that seemingly elusive sleep when anxiety and unwanted thoughts seem determined to keep you awake.
So there you go… A few suggestions to help you get to sleep and allow your mind to rest.
Let me know if you have any suggestions of your own, by commenting below.
Next time, we’ll look at how to make it easier to get up in the mornings.
There are so many things in the world that we can’t control, such as the weather, and the thoughts and actions of others. But there are more things that you do have control over in your life, even if you think you don’t.
You may be in a job you hate and think you have no choice but to stay in it.
“But I can’t leave my job – if I do, I won’t be able to pay the bills”
It may not seem like it, but you are still making a choice - you are choosing financial security over financial insecurity.
It may seem a small consolation when you really dislike your job, but just that simple shift in thinking can help you be more accepting of your job and feel more in control of your life, and it can also open up different possibilities available to you, rather than leaving you feeling stuck.
One way to help you notice the (often subconscious) choices you are making in your life, is to look at the language you are using.
Pay particular attention to sentences that include ‘I have to’, ‘I need to’, ‘I must’, and ‘I should’.
These phrases tend to suggest you don’t have control - they sound like obligations rather than choices.
But do you really ‘have to’, ‘need to’ ‘must’, or ‘should’?
If so, why?
And what are the consequences if you don’t?
Some of these obligations can come from habitual thinking or the expectations of others, so it’s worth taking some time to identify where your ‘haves’, ‘needs’, musts’ and ‘shoulds’ come from, and thinking about whether they still serve you.
A simple way of identifying control and choice can come from reframing these sentences by changing the words ‘have to’ ‘need to’, ‘must’ or ‘should’, to ‘could’.
Try changing, “I need to finish writing that report tonight”
to, “I could finish writing that report tonight”
Notice how changing the wording implies choice – it allows you to weigh up the pros and cons so you get to make an informed decision on whether to finish writing the report tonight or not. You are now in control which, in itself, can help to lessen pressure and stress.
And if the guilt of letting other people down is leaving you feeling that you have no choice, take a look at my vlog, 'How to say 'no' without feeling guilty'.
Of course, there are going to be some things over which you really do have no control, but even then, you can still choose how to respond or react which can help put you more in control of your feelings.
So what choices are you going to make to take back control over your life? Let me know if the comments below, or drop me a line on my contact me page.
A bit of stress at work can be motivating – a little pressure can make you more productive and give you a sense of achievement. But what happens when that stress gets too much?
Here are 5 indicators that work-related stress may have become a problem:
1. Having negative thoughts
You feel unhappy, sad, or even depressed, the majority of the time and find it difficult to see the positives in a situation, both in and out of work.
2. Trouble sleeping or sleeping more
You’re finding it hard to get to sleep and thoughts and worries go round and round your head, or you wake up in the middle of the night and find it hard to get back to sleep. Conversely, you could be sleeping more, but wake up feeling tired and groggy.
3. Feeling irritable
You’re snappy with family and friends, or find it hard to relax or sit still for any period of time.
4. Change in eating/drinking habits
You’re eating too much (comfort eating) or eating very little because you’re feeling too sad or irritable, or you may be drinking alcohol more than usual.
5. Physical health symptoms
You’re experiencing headaches or feeling sick, or maybe experiencing dizziness, or feeling so run down you catch every cough/cold going.
This list is far from exhaustive, but if you are experiencing any of these, then it’s time to do something about it… This could be talking to your manager about your workload, finding ways to switch off after work (see my blogs on self-care and anxiety), or seeking professional help such as consulting a doctor or seeing a counsellor.
Remember, experiencing work-related stress is nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone is unique and has different responses to pressure and stress. You deserve to happy and healthy at work, both physically and mentally.
If you would like to talk more about how work-related stress is affecting you and find out how counselling could help, then drop me a wee line via my contact me page.
© Becky Stokes 2021