How often do you get a chance to really appreciate yourself? Is your self-appreciation limited to quick pat on the back after completing a tower of paperwork? A small feeling of pride at the end of a long day?
The practice of self-love has not always been so popular. In the past, society has pushed the myth that self-love is indulgent. The truth is that recognising our strengths and achievements is exactly what we need to move forward. Keeping a self-love journal helps you progress in your life, relationships and career, combating feelings of low self-esteem and poor confidence.
Where to Start with a Self-Love Journal for Mental Health
Starting a self-love journal for mental health is different from other forms of journaling. Rather than working towards goals for your career or hobbies, a self-love journal for mental health focuses on you. A self-love journal also boosts your approach towards life goals, but ultimately, starting a self-love journal is about putting your productivity temporarily aside to focus on your wellbeing. Take away pressure, anxieties and time limits - focus on you in your own time.
A self-love journal for mental health should always start with one thing - and that’s you. You need to take time to form an overview of yourself in your self-love journal. Plot out the details of your life through a mind map. Start by writing your name, then drawing a circle around it. Around that circle, write some keywords about yourself. These can be words that describe your personality, your wants for the future, or areas to improve. There are no strict limits, just try to keep the notes short. When you’ve finished each one, circle them and link them to other related keywords. When the page is complete, you should have a clear overview of who you are and what you want from your life.
When to Write and Use Gratitude Journaling to Reduce Stress
Another key way to use a self-love journal for mental health is to reduce stress. The impact of stress on our mental health is well documented. Stress makes it harder to deal with daily challenges, leading to loss of sleep and heightened negative thinking patterns,
Gratitude journaling in a self-love journal can help to reduce stress in both the short and long term. When a stressful event hits you out of the blue, take time to sit with your journal and express gratitude. Gratitude is a powerful emotion that can put negative events into perspective. You can write about the big and small positives in your life, e.g. your family, enjoying taking the dog for a walk, or even the resilient way you handle stressful moments.
How a Self-Love Journal Can Help with Anxiety
Anxiety often rears its head at times when we feel out of control. When we’re worried about how we’ll react or cope with a situation, it’s hard to deal with what is actually happening, and our bodies enter ‘fight or flight’ mode.
Take a look at the mind map you created about yourself - what does it say about you? Use your mind map to take control. What were the aspects you wanted to improve? Maybe it’s your self confidence or your fear of flying, maybe it’s anger management or panic attacks?
Create another mind map specifically for the issues you want to improve. Write down any day-to-day situations that trigger your anxiety, and then work towards overcoming them. Write out coping strategies that help you. Jot down reward ideas for each step you reach. When you start tackling your anxieties as part of your long-term routines, you take back control of your life.
Self-reflection and positivity are two big reasons to use a self-love journal for mental health. Sometimes we all need a designated space to appreciate our accomplishments, our challenges, and take stock of how far we’ve come, especially as we work through ill mental health. Although it can’t replace therapy, your self-love journal for mental health is not only a space to record your progress, but also to remind yourself of all you have achieved.