Keeping a journal is often recommended to people who are undergoing some form of therapy or personal development. It is a great tool for self-reflection and expression. It can be a very helpful way to manage worries, troubling thoughts, memories and emotions. As a mental health nurse and therapist, I know the many benefits journaling provides. However, if you are like most people, you will buy a beautiful journal, write in it a few times, then put it in the bottom of a drawer, never to be used again.
Keeping a regular diary or journal fell out of fashion decades ago, so it’s not surprising that journaling for mental health purposes can be a bit hit and miss. But there is a great alternative that combines creativity and self-expression: the junk journal.
A junk journal is a great mental health tool for the following reasons.
Most of all, a book you have made and then spent the time filling with helpful notes, quotes, and advice to yourself is more likely to be read than a note on a piece of paper or on your computer. It will become a cherished keepsake, a holder of your memories, as well as a great outlet for self-expression.
Coming soon - our free online course on making and filling your junk journal.
In the meantime, check out our online courses on living mindfully, as way of managing stress and anxiety, finding a better balance, and living a more rewarding life: www.walkingtall.thinkific.com
Instructor and Registered Mental Health Nurse
Walking Tall Online
Copyright © 2019. Walking Tall Online. All Rights Reserved.
Our lives are busy and are often filled with competing demands on our time, thoughts, and energy. We find ourselves being pulled in different directions, struggling to balance our work, family and personal commitments and activities. We can become so busy with daily life and worrying about what we have to do next, that we forget what is truly important: living in the present moment. As a result, we can easily feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious and frazzled.
One way to live a less stressful and more balanced life is through the practice of mindfulness. Many people will have heard of mindfulness as it is popular at the moment, with loads of books published on the subject and many mindfulness courses available. It has the potential to truly enhance a person’s quality of life if it is understood and practiced correctly.
Mindfulness is derived from eastern Buddhist practices where monks would meditate for hours to still and empty their mind. They saw this as a path to enlightenment, something which takes a lifetime of practice to achieve. Given its Buddhist origins, most people associate mindfulness with the concept of being completely still and of emptying our minds. This is the practice of mindful meditation, which requires quiet time and space away from normal daily life. For most of us, this practice of mindful meditation is not realistic or achievable. Our lives are too busy, are minds are too filled with thoughts that we struggle to control, and we have little free time to sit and meditate.
Mindfulness as it has been related to westernised culture, is based on the principle of focus rather than on emptying of our minds. It doesn’t require us to meditate or to be completely still for extended periods of time. Instead, mindfulness is a state of being, where we are completely present and living with full awareness of each moment, as part of our daily lives and activities. This enables us to undertake our daily tasks in a way that frees us from worry about the future or thinking about a multitude of things at once.
Living mindfully shifts our focus to each present moment. We give our full attention and focus to our present task or activity, whether it might be sitting reading a book, taking a walk, doing housework, playing with our kids, or taking part in our favourite hobby or pastime. To become more mindful means that we participate fully in the activity that we are doing in that moment, while gently letting go of any distracting thoughts or worries that may come into our minds. We can’t necessarily stop the flow of distracting thoughts, but we can choose not to focus on them.
Being fully present and mindful requires us to focus solely on the task at hand. We focus on doing the dishes or playing with our children. We immerse ourselves in that activity in a purposeful way. We also do it in a way that is non-judgmental. This involves recognising but gently letting go of any negative self-talk and the judgments we make about ourselves, such as “I’m not doing this well enough” or “I will never be good enough”.
Learning to live mindfully requires us to develop the skills needed to focus on the task at hand in a way that is purposeful and non-judgmental. It requires dedicated and consistent practice for it to become a normal part of our lives. If we make this commitment, mindfulness has the potential to dramatically enhance our quality of life. It can reduce stress and anxiety, enable us to more fully enjoy our daily lives, and reduce our worries about the future.
We can all learn to live more mindfully. If you would like to learn the skills to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life, check out our online training at https://walkingtall.thinkific.com/.
Registered Mental Health Nurse, Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, Acceptance and Commitment Therapist and Dialectical Behaviour Therapist.
Copyright © 2019. CBT West™ and Walking Tall. All Rights Reserved.
Are you struggling with a stressful or demanding job that is exhausting you and making you feel unwell? Learning how to live more mindfully can’t fix your job, but it can provide you with some much needed relief.
For most of my career I have worked in high pressure, stressful jobs. Frequently I have felt completely overwhelmed by the demands placed on me, both in terms of excessive workload and the nature of the work itself. I would work long hours to keep up, eat lunch on the run, and rush from one meeting to the next. I never seemed to have enough time to properly focus on anything. It felt like I was constantly juggling multiple competing demands. I would worry endlessly about everything I was doing, fearing that I would make a mistake or would let someone down. I often felt out of my depth and I constantly doubted myself and my ability, despite my track record showing that I did get things done on time and to a high standard.
This may sound familiar to some or even many of you. It is common to find ourselves in high pressure work environments where the demands and expectations are extremely high. We are often thrown in at the deep end with inadequate support and guidance. Those of us who excel are often rewarded with increasingly demanding work, which can overload and overwhelm us. Our 40 hour week grows to a 60 hour fast-paced week, which leaves us exhausted, stressed and unwell. However, we often feel like we have little choice but to struggle on. We need to pay our mortgage and support our families. We need to do this work so we can get a promotion or a better job. Or we fear we will not be able to get another job if we quit. It can make us feel that we are between a rock and a hard place. I know. I’ve been there and it is awful.
While you may feel incredibly trapped in a stressful work environment, learning how to live more mindfully can provide you with some much needed relief. Here a two mindful techniques you can practice that will make a real difference.
Paying attention to the present moment
This involves focusing on what is happening in this present moment, rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on something that has happened in the past. When we get caught up in our thoughts about the past or the future, we often become stressed and anxious. We also miss what is happening in this moment, including the small, unexpected moments, which can bring happiness and joy.
To focus your attention on the present moment, try observing with your senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell), giving them your full attention. If you find your thoughts wandering, notice them, and gently bring your focus back to what you are observing.
Here are some examples.
Doing one thing at a time
We are encouraged to do multiple things at once, particularly in the work environment. We have two or three jobs on the go, we are on the phone while we are writing an email, and we are thinking about a work problem while we are in a meeting. Trying to do more than one thing or even think about more than one thing at a time makes us feel frazzled. It also doesn’t work. Research has consistently shown that multi-tasking is not effective. We are better from a productivity and a wellbeing perspective, to focus on one thing at a time.
It is actually easier than you may think. Here are some ways to do it.
When we pay attention to the present moment and focus on doing one thing at a time, we become more aware of life as it is happening. This helps to interrupt the stream of thoughts and worries that cause us so much stress. It gives us a break from the constant pressure of trying to juggling multiple demands and enables us to more meaningfully connect with what is happening around.
The research clearly demonstrates that being more mindful reduces stress and improves our quality of life. It is good for our health and our relationships. I know from my own experience, that it makes it easier to cope with a stressful work environment. It is not the sole answer, but it definitely makes a real difference.
To find out more about how you can manage a stressful and demanding job by being more mindful, check out our online course at:
Jane Hurst, PhD
Instructor, Walking Tall
Copyright © 2019. CBT West™ Pukekohe and Walking Tall. All Rights Reserved.