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5 Ways Journaling Has Helped Me

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Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on Pexels.com

Around my birthday last year, I came across the article, How To Declutter Your Mind: 10 Practical Tips You’ll Actually Want To Try on Forbes.com. It mentioned how keeping a journal is a great way to relax your mind. The author explained how, according to research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General writing could improve memory, help with anxiety, and cope with depression. I was sold. I told myself I would buy a notebook that weekend.

The very next day was my birthday dinner. I had invited a few of my friends and come to find out one of my friends gifted me two notebooks! (Look at God!) One was for poetry; it gave you poetry prompts. The other one was a regular notebook/journal small enough to carry in my purse. Now, that I’ve been using that notebook for literally everything, I don’t know how I survived life without it. LOL Here are the five ways journaling has helped me.

1. Organize My Life

In the journal, I write my ‘To Do’ lists, so I don’t forget any tasks to complete. I also write down my budget for the month. I’ve seen a difference in writing these things down, especially my ‘To Do’ lists because I don’t start a task and then halfway through it remember another task, stop and start that other task, leaving the last task half done. I can also focus on one thing at a time instead of multitasking and not completing them at my best. When it comes to writing down my budget, it keeps me on track on how much money I am spending, I am going to spend, and I won’t spend unnecessarily.

2. Organize My Thoughts

Since I take my journal with me everywhere I go, when I have a random thought or the urge to write I do. This way, I can get my thoughts all out on paper and then organize them later. Writing down my thoughts has helped me with my memory; I am not as forgetful as I used to be. I’ve noticed that it has helped me stay organized, on track, and de-clutter my mind, like the article says. And whenever I get an idea for a poem, I have my journal ready to write.

3. Reach Goals

There is another article on Huffpost.com called The Power of Writing Down Your Goals and Dreams. It talks about how Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, studied the art and science of goal setting. She had gathered 267 people from all different professions and divided them into groups by those who wrote down their goals and those who didn’t. She found out that those who wrote down their goals on a regular achieved them at a significantly higher level, 42% more likely.
I write my goals, and every certain amount of time, I go back and check on my progress. Writing keeps me on track with what I need to do, or I can change my goals if need to be. Since starting this, I can say I’ve reached the majority of my goals and only have had to change a few.

4. Grow Closer to God

After about two months from receiving my journal, I started writing down my prayers in the morning before starting work. I absolutely love doing this! Gets my mind ready for the day while also giving me a sense of gratitude. I find that with writing down my prayers, I can get right to the point and not feel like I’m rambling on like I would if I were speaking them out. I still pray throughout the day and at night before bed, but there is something about writing them down in the morning that gives me complete satisfaction.

5. Reflect

Since I write everything down, I can go back and reflect. I can see what goals I had, and if I reached them, look at my accomplishments, go through the journey it took me to get there, and evaluate how I was feeling. It’s important to reflect and take time to see what you’ve overcome, the obstacles you’ve faced, and see your growth. This also helps for memory because as time goes on and new memories are created, old memories tend to fade, but if you have certain things written down, it can be a beautiful reminder of all you’ve overcome.

Wrapping Up

Overall journaling has helped me in many areas of my life, and I wish I would have kept my old ‘dairies’ from when I was younger LOL to look back on, but I have my journal from now to reflect on when I’m older. I’m glad I came across the article last year, started journaling, and now I’m able to share how it has helped me. If you do start journaling or already do, I would love to hear how it has impacted or helped you.

With Love, Heidy

P.S. I’ve created a few journals – you can check them out here.

Is a personal development newsletter an interest of yours? With a little bit of poetry? A little of opinion pieces? And some faith-based encouragement? Sign up for my Substack newsletter, “Into My Thoughts.”

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Categories
Blog

My Struggle During This Pandemic

At the start of this quarantine, I thought to myself, “this is good, this will be good, like when have we ever had a pause? When have we ever had the time to slow down and just stay home because we are always on the go?” And 3 weeks in of working from home, while teaching my 6-year-old and finishing up my Master’s Degree, it was getting to me.

I was enjoying that right after I finished my work, I was able to get dinner started early, start my homework, and have more time available to do whatever I wanted. While working, I was helping my daughter with her school work because I needed the afternoons to do my own school work. During my morning break, I would take a walk around my apartment complex with my daughter, get fresh air, and give her a break from being stuck inside. During my afternoon breaks, I would do quick exercises. My husband bought me a treadmill, so I started running or power walking, about 3 times per week. I was reading more, still doing my daily bible readings, praying, devotionals, listening to praise & worship music, meditation, still listening to podcasts, but I wasn’t writing as much, for some reason, I couldn’t find any inspiration, and I didn’t want to write about COVID-19 because that’s what you saw EVERYWHERE.

Right off the bat, I decided that I would take a break from social media. I mainly did it because I kept seeing negative comments, posts, people arguing, posting the same article on all different platforms, and it was getting to be too much for me. I took about a 2-week break straight of not going into social media at all, and then I started to go on like 2 or 3 times a week. That was different for me because I’m very active on social media, but since I knew I would be at home all day, I didn’t want to spend the majority of my time on my phone, especially since all I was seeing was negativity.

Quickly, I realized that once you’re off social media, not that many people check up on you. Although, you would hear on the TV or radio, etc., “check up on your loved us, connect with each other, and we are in this together,” it didn’t seem that way to me. I’d sent a few text messages to my friends, making sure they were okay because this pandemic is global; it is affecting everyone in the world. So, even family members in the Dominican Republic, I was texting to see how they were doing, but for some reason, I felt like no one was checking up on me.

My husband noticed the change in me right away, and he suggested I start therapy again. The very next day, I received an email from BetterHelp.com offering me free therapy sessions until the end of April. I signed up, and they connected me with a therapist fairly quickly. I had emailed customer support asking If I could be connected with the therapist I had worked with before, but they told me she was unavailable at this time, so I worked with the one who they connected me with.

She asked me if there were friendships or people I used to talk to every day but no longer speaking to once the quarantine started? I told her that not really, I still text the people I usually talk to on a daily. She asked if I was still connected with my parents, and I told her yes, we talk, or call each other on the video chat. I told her I was off social media and that I was still doing things I ‘enjoy’ doing, so I’m not sure why I was feeling like this. She told me that it seemed like something was missing – there was a connection I needed that was missing. I do remember my old therapist explaining to me that my depression was situational, and what was happening now completely changed my life, it makes sense as to why it’s come back again. But what was frustrating is thinking, “I’m healthy, my family is healthy, we are safe, my husband and I are both working, there are people who are sick, and others are losing family members so why am I feeling like this?”

Speaking to the therapist did help, but once April ended, I closed my account, and I felt like I didn’t need it anymore since I was good for like 2 weeks. I had finished my Master’s Degree at the end of April, so now I had even more time to do things. But another struggle during this time was parenting. Oh my goodness, the battles I’ve had with my daughter, it felt like it was endless. I didn’t want to be too hard on her because she’s stuck inside, and for a child, that is not easy, but I also didn’t want her to keep disrespecting me by not listening to me or talking back. I tried taking away her tablet, that didn’t help, I tried time-outs, that didn’t help, she was “grounded” that didn’t help, I eventually had to take everything, all her privileges away. That meant, no coloring, no books, no tablet, no TV, no playing with her toys, nothing. She had to earn everything back, and she spent a whole day sitting next to me on the couch, doing, you guessed it, NOTHING. Towards the early afternoon, she told me she was bored, and I was like I know, it’s not fun, is it? She eventually gained her stuff back, and she’s doing much better now. But on top of everything else that was going on, I was trying to figure out how to approach the disrespect I was getting from my daughter.

All this to say that I’ve had a panic attack, I’ve had a few breakdowns, I’ve had moments where I felt so blessed, and moments where I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but here I am writing my journey through quarantine. Things will not get back to ‘normal’ we will have a new ‘normal’ and we will have to adapt to the changes. We all deal with changes differently and our bodies react differently too, but we have to listen to our bodies and know when to ask for help.

If you are struggling through his pandemic please know that there are resources out there to help. Seek help, ask someone, but please do not struggle alone, you are not alone.

 

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 43:2

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Categories
Blog Spiritual

Forgiveness

Why is it so hard to forgive? Is it because of the hurt? Or who we were hurt by? It’s always who we least expect it from. Or maybe it was the action? But whatever the reason forgiveness is hard and we have to a lot of it, the Bible says 70 x 7.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven,” Matthew 18:21-22 of the Revised Standard Version 

The Bible talks quite a bit about forgiveness, and we have to forgive. We have to forgive ourselves, and we have to forgive others. God forgives us every day for our sins. Every single day!

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 New International Version

We aren’t perfect – no one is, which is why we hurt other people. Sometimes intentional, and sometimes we don’t realize it. But regardless, it is wrong, and we have to forgive. Forgiveness isn’t for the person you’re forgiving – it’s for you. It’s freeing you of that burden. You carry around all this weight that’s holding you down and aren’t able to move on. But once you let it go, it’s so freeing.

It does take time to forgive. Do it when you’re ready. Once you’ve processed the hurt and understand your emotions. Ask God to help you – he will guide you, but it needs to be done. Don’t live with the pain, it will make you bitter. Let go of the hurt – it will free you. And once you let go, don’t ever look back.

I challenge you to write a letter to someone you need to forgive. Write down how they hurt you and how it made you feel. Write your thoughts, everything you wish you could tell them, and then read it out loud to yourself, and then rip it up and throw it away.

Protect yourself – yes, sometimes people deserve a second chance, but you decide. You get to decide if you want to give them another chance. You can forgive and not give another chance because you have to protect yourself. Just don’t let one person pay for what someone else did, that’s not fair.

Forgive – because you deserve peace.

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