Posted in Mental Health, Self Care

Journaling is easy as 1, 2, 3!

Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time. – Mina Murray

Ready, Set – Journal!

I started small.  I found a great lined notebook with a purple cover to capture my day, a blank notebook from the Dollar Store to doodle in when I was stressed or anxious.  I was lucky to find an app – on my first search – to track my symptoms and also another one to do my daily gratitude practice.

I was reluctant to start a journal when I experienced my anxiety and panic attacks.  I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to explore the triggers or assess how I was feeling both emotionally and physically.  The thought of reviewing those more difficult days wasn’t high up on my priority list. I focused on the positive side and tried different ways of capturing my thoughts, feelings, symptoms and accomplishments.

Here are my suggestions to start journaling on paper, electronically or even both!!  There are a few things to consider in order to make the habit stick:

  1. Get a notebook that you will want to write in.  It can be your favorite color, have an inspiring quote on the cover or is unlined so you have the option to add drawings instead of just words.
  2. When a quiet moment arises that you are alone, do a quick check in:
    • How are you feeling?  Happy? Sad? Anxious? Annoyed?
    • What happened during the day that brought forward these feelings?
    • Write down your thoughts on the cause and then take 3 deep breaths to let the feeling go.
    • Close the Journal and continue on with your day, try to let go of those emotions. Consider the feelings you jotted down and you can reflect what you wrote down at the end of the day. Only do this if you feel the need because the feelings are lingering.
  3. Did you know that multiple journals can also be very helpful?  Here are some addition journal types that could inspire you:
    • The PMS Journal: Track how your cycle affects your physical, emotional or mental health.
    • The Food Journal: Track you food choices, calories or even physical reactions to certain foods.  I used this type of journal during an elimination diet so that I could follow if my symptoms improved as I made different food choices in relation to dairy, wheat and eggs. This was a tremendous help for both my family doctor and allergist.
    • Gratitude Journal: This type of journal is fantastic for staying in a positive mindset and be thankful for the people that have an impact in your life. As I mentioned, I have been using the thankful app on my iPhone because it also allows me to include pictures in my entries. I am a visual person so the images trigger memories and evoke strong emotions.
    • Dream Tracker: Do you thrive off of looking into the meaning of your dreams?  Do you like interpreting the experiences and gain insight on your dream patterns.  A dream diary can definitely help you reflect and learn more about your personality.
    • Pregnancy Diary: As an adult, this was my first real attempt at journaling.  Tracking my pregnancy experiences was rewarding and has enabled me to compare each experience (I’ve had 4 pregnancies!!) to see how unique they all have been.  Another benefit is the ability to share this information with my children as they get older. In fact, my oldest daughter just had a baby and was so appreciative to be able to look at my pregnancy experience with her.
Doodle Art

Countless Benefits

There are plenty of reasons to keep an online journal or diary. The most rewarding can be in regards to your emotional health.

Mental health benefits from journaling:

  • Reduces overall stress
  • Increases happiness
  • Keeps you on track to achieve goals
  • Increases your emotional intelligence
  • Develops self-awareness
  • Improves memory
  • Allows you to emotionally heal from trauma
  • Boosts problem-solving skills
  • Gain clarity on confusing situations

I suggest that you have some kind of schedule in order to make journaling a habit and incorporate it into your lifestyle.   Journaling throughout the day helps me capture all the various emotions and experiences I encounter. I aim for upon waking up, mid day, while cooking dinner and before bed. Just a few minutes per day has improve my mindset, gratitude and appreciation for all people and things that contribute to my journey through life.

Do you Journal? How has it benefited you? I’d love for you to share YOUR experience with the Violet Buddha Tribe and help others incorporate journaling into their daily To Do list.

Hellow Sunshine Journal

Inhale. Exhale.

Violet Buddha

Posted in Meditation, Mental Health

The Power of Breath

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” ~Thích Nhất Hạnh

Anxiety and panic can arise at the most inconvenient and unconventional times.  I have found myself on many occasions in the midst of an attack when I am all by myself, with no apparent trigger or intrusive thoughts but for some reason my body reacts.

It took some time and several entries in my journal marking down the environment, what I had been doing or thinking prior to the attack and compiling my symptoms to come to the realization that I had a warning sign every single time – my breath.

As I start to feel overwhelmed by thoughts or feelings, the first thing that changes in my body is the speed and depth of my breath.  My breathing starts to become quick, shallow and uneven. My nervous system goes into overdrive and with each breath I escalate my fight or flight response. I needed an antidote that was quick, easy and available at all times – the key was breath.

Calming Mind and Breath

Learning to be conscious of my breath through both meditation and my yoga practice has been particularly beneficial to my anxiety disorder. Having the instinct to breathe slowly and evenly through my nose while engaging my diaphragm has improved my posture, lowered my blood pressure and significantly decreased my stress related pain points.

Whether you are trying to improve your health, or seeking a bit of zen, pausing several times a day to breathe deeply promoted relaxation, concentration and improved my mental clarity.  Another positive result that I have noticed is, when I do my deep breathing throughout the day and then about 30 minutes before bed, I sleep much better. As someone who has struggled with insomnia for many years, this has been the most amazing side effect.

Deep Breathing Basics

Here are two easy exercises you can incorporate into your daily routine.

  • Lie on your back, bend your knees toward the ceiling and keep your feet flat on the floor.  Put a hardcover book on your abdomen (just under your belly button) and watch how the book rises and falls as you breathe deeply, slowly and evenly.
  • Lie in your bed, with a pillow under your head and both hands resting on your stomach.  Watch you belly rise and fall with each breath. Try inhaling for 4 counts, hold for 2 counts and then exhale completely for 5 counts. Repeat this 5 times or until you feel the tension in your body release.

If you prefer a little more guidance and flexiblity to do your breathing practice at any time, then try the OMM app…..

App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/one-moment-meditation/id873255555

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.onemomentmeditation.omm1&hl=en


Inhale.  Exhale.

Violet Buddha