Self Help Journaling
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Today I:

Understanding the way that my environment influences my emotional state through lists.

Today I:

List written earlier this summer, before the heat began to suffocate my Saturday mornings:

Today I:

  • Spent my second day of the summer doing close to nothing - no, not nothing. But nothing that matches the height of productivity that I expect of myself.
  • I rested. I watched Law and Order SVU, ate avocado toast, made two servings of quinoa with red peppers that got soggy when I cooked them wrong. Ate both servings. Enjoyed the meal.
  • Finished reading John Weismann's No. 4 Imperial Lane - I found it intellectual and historically loaded (Yes, I do use phrases like "historically loaded" in my personal journal), but I liked it. I am trying to determine how I can try harder tomorrow.

The list continues on in a similar fashion. For the past three months, I have challenged myself to keep tabs on my emotional state through lists of my days actions at least once a week. The change I have noticed in my own behavior is perspective-altering - at least to me.

I should open with a statement of my past relationship with journaling. Like many young, prospective authors, I have blown gift card balances and middle school allowances on string-bound notebooks with pleather covers in all colors of the rainbow. Several notable writing influences have pushed me to chase journaling as a pastime, but in all honesty, handwritten notes just aren't my thing. It's all good fun to decorate the margins of a bullet journal with fine tipped sharpies and floral patterns, but recording everything I do in a day ends up furthering my anxiety and aforementioned pull to productivity. Diaries are dangerous, a hazard to a teenage girl still living at home with both parents, a nosy little sister, and an even nosier younger brother. List-making, on the other hand, makes the process more efficient and enthuses me endlessly.

How I Started (and how you can too):

To make your Today I: lists meaningful, aim for conciseness and consistency. Though that may feel difficult if you've suffered a particularly draining day and need to vent, keep your bullets down to a few sentences that you can easily reflect on in later days.

Begin by asking yourself two questions:

  1. What major things did I do today?
  2. How did those things make me feel?

By answering these questions in each bullet point, you can quickly manifest the way you felt in the day into problems to be tackled or progress made. Looking back on previous lists allows you to perform straightforward self-evaluations and address the actions that made you anxious, angry, self-deprecating, or in any way unsatisfied.

With my little red notebook of lists by my side, I've spent this summer facing head-on the same issues I faced in seasons past with exponentially greater success.

There will always be obstacles and influences on mental health that drag us into a negative space, but learning to accept those roadblocks as lessons to be learned opens us into a wealth of growth and contentedness, which is the ultimate goal for most. Even those with the busiest of schedules and fullest of plates can find a moment in their day to sit and make a list of as few as three or four moments in their day that had a positive or negative impact on their mindset.

Look at your life like a grocery list of emotionally-impactful moments and see what you find.

If you don't like it, take a chance. Work towards better.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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