We all have habits, some not so good for us and the ones that serve us well – like cornerstone habits. A cornerstone habit, such as diary keeping or journaling act as a foundation to build upon and can start a chain reaction of positive change, that with very little effort can transform your life.
Like any habit it may take several attempts before it becomes ingrained and I have to admit that when I first started journal writing it felt like a bit of a chore, just another thing on my list of “to do” stuff that mostly never got done!
With this lack of motivation I had to find a “why” …….. a solid reason to do it. To get inspired I tagged it to ” treating myself to me time” and made it part of my self-care routine. So, by giving myself a special time to sit with a nice cuppa, pen and journal, getting comfy to enjoy the sounds and a view of my garden, I soon discovered my “why” to take time for this little ritual, as it gradually became a precious gift I could give to myself.
It didn’t take long before it kicked off a chain reaction that gave me a much needed time to simply just sit down and check in with myself to escape my habit of time travelling in my mind worrying about the future. Worrying about the affects of fibromyalgia, worrying about how I was going to cope, worrying about letting others down, worrying….. “what if’s” and mostly none of it had happened, it was all futuristic imaginings.
I found that putting my emerging thoughts and emotions onto paper soon helped to reveal some very unhelpful patterns that I was totally unaware just how much energy they were sucking out of me. Continuing to journal over time enabled me to build on my mind-body awareness and find the solutions that were right for me. The benefits soon began to shift into other areas of my life, particularly my ups and downs of managing fibromyalgia.
Receiving a diagnosis and learning to live with a chronic condition like fibromyalgia is no doubt a life changing experience. You can easily find yourself lost in a stormy sea with no idea how to navigate your way through it. You find yourself going round and round, flare after flare, like being in an never ending whirlpool! Life becomes overwhelmingly stressful resulting with a mind full of fears and worries.
All these worrying “what if’s” and a body riddled with pain goes on to drain any remaining energy you’re holding onto, some days just to get up in the morning is enough!
Yet life has to go on despite fibromyalgia and there might be times when you have to manage this on your own. Some of the people you talk to just don’t get it or they don’t understand, they can’t help.
Journaling allows you to express your voice in what you truly think and feel.
Internally, your journal offers you the space to be your own judge, it directs you to listen to your inner-critic and SHUT IT DOWN! Writing your journal is your time where you can get really honest with yourself and in complete privacy. Go for it! Say it as it is, I mean really go for it!!
On the external front, how many times have you found yourself avoiding conversations because you are totally fed up of justifying your situation? So often we find ourselves not saying what we truly think and feel for various reasons, maybe fear of rejection or from lack of understanding from others. So why not bash it out on paper, get creative and stab the paper with your pen! Let yourself have a good old vent!
Unexpressed thoughts and feelings that don’t serve you will begin to fester and cause a wound, but getting them out onto paper helps to release them. The act of acknowledging and giving thoughts and feelings a label helps without judging them will help to give you space from them and help them to dissipate. When you take away their power you can begin to let go of any fears, hurts or blame and is a truly wonderful therapeutic process you can give to yourself.
With journaling you can give yourself quality “Mindful” moments.
We all know it’s essential that we have to manage our own fibromyalgia, to give ourselves self care and remember to pace. There’s nothing quite like some quiet time in amongst all the clatter that goes on in our lives and a time to silence all that internal chatter causing our sensitivities to run riot.
Heightened sensitivity goes hand in hand with fibromyalgia and we can easily become stuck in this mode. The stress response doesn’t switch off and we’re on auto-pilot, mechanically playing out all our bad habits such as overthinking, ruminating and catastropyzing etc. Our minds will only go in the direction you tell it to go! Make sure you’re telling it to go in the right direction!
When the stress response becomes too good at its job, the negative bias takes over and controls the mind to seek out and focus on all things negative. The outcome of this is yet more fibromyalgia flare ups, stress, increased pain and ill health.
It’s really helpful to use your journal to set intentions to keep tabs on this by recording and organizing your thoughts on paper to pin point where your stress is coming from. Only then can you find solutions, quiet the mind, let go of tension and ease the pain.
When we find ourselves spending a lot of time in our heads, why not make it a good place to be? Journal writing helps you to mindfully reflect and bring clarity to disordered thinking, giving you some space to write a few lines and to acknowledge some gratitude in your life. To create a shift sometimes all it takes is to notice the small stuff, like a flower or the sounds of nature. It’s amazing what you can find when you actively search for it! Here a few benefits of journal writing for fibromyalgia:
- Over time it helps to reduce sensitivity whilst building resilience
- Reveal unhelpful patterns and bad habits
- Direct your intention to find coping strategies
- Discover and track flare triggers and intolerance
- Monitor results from your fibromyalgia treatment options
- Challenge self doubt and improve self-trust
- Highlight symptoms and stress triggers
- Increase body-mind awareness and clarity of thought
- Regularly shift your focus and reclaim some moments of calm
Why not put pen to paper and give it a go, who knows what you’ll find! author Jok Saunders, Mindfulness Coach