Because I mentioned in my Rebirthday post that journaling has been hugely helpful in my recovery from suicidal thoughts, I thought I would expand on my journaling process a little. But it's not a "process" at all--it's surprisingly unstructured for a type-A person like myself! Here's how it goes (in case you want to take notes 😜):
1. Have an intriguing or emotionally-charged thought.
2. Write it down.
3. See what happens.
Seriously. I just write when I think of/realize something interesting or insightful (especially something that could possibly be explored more in therapy). And I just write for however long it takes to spit out that thought. And a lot of the time, magic happens--I get another, sometimes completely out-of-left-field thought or insight, which is pretty darn cool and often more interesting than the original thought I'd had! Or if I'm writing because I'm freaking out about something, in time, I'm usually able to start taking off the anxiety goggles to see the situation as it really is.
I don't journal every day, and I never aim to write either a certain number of pages or for a set period of time. I also usually journal on the fly (while sitting on the couch, while on the train, etc.), which keeps it from becoming just another pressurized thing on my to-do list.
I have a hard time sitting still, and certainly sitting still with my emotions, but the act of journaling seems to make the "sitting still" less still and therefore more tolerable, you know? But full disclosure--journaling was a tough habit for me to get into. My first journal, which was just a marble notebook given to me by one of the nurses when I was inpatient, was more like a diary of what was going on each day in the hospital than how I felt about things.
But once I started exploring deeper, "scarier" thoughts in writing, I started to understand myself and the seemingly incongruous things I did and felt more. Some things finally started making sense. The writing also helped to "tame" some of the scariness of the thoughts, as writing forced my brain to slow down and actually consider the truth of a situation or thought, rather than just believing it without question. And, on a purely practical level, the act of writing helped me to actually remember said thoughts to bring them up in therapy!
So yeah, that's it! A super chill habit that's really paid off for me. ❤️