After a two minute scroll on Instagram, it’s apparent that self-care is having it’s moment in the sun. And good riddance. I grew up in an era where it was fundamentally embarrassing to promote behaviours indicative of self-love or confidence. You were perceived as a bit of a weirdo if you engaged in health-promoting behaviours like waking up early, abstaining from alcohol, and exercising as a form of enjoyment. If you immersed yourself in any form of self-care, you were viewed as a narcissist who thought you were superior to anyone who didn’t consume organic food and almond milk. Nowadays, practices that promote our emotional wellbeing are widespread and strongly encouraged. Instagram has also changed dramatically. A platform that was once used for posting drunken videos of your mates or a close-up picture of a birthday cake with smarties decorated in the number 18, is now a hub for people to share their healthy lifestyle practices and transformations. Everywhere we look, we see accounts filled with posts about ice baths, pictures of pretty sunrises, early morning gym selfies and #selfcaresaturday hashtags.
The wellness space is ubiquitous to the the point that it has become heavily commercialised. Arguably a lot of what we see on social media is inauthentic and so heavily curated that the truth is lost. The accounts purporting to be concerned about self-esteem and inner-worth all have a vested interest in promoting products that ultimately leave people feeling emptier than ever before. Self-help is a massive industry, and it’s difficult to sift through the prolific posts of covert product-promoting, and find something genuine that is useful in an enduring and meaningful way. Personally, after years of struggles with my mental health, I have always been on the hunt for something to fix my woes – the panacea to my inner pain. Through trial and error, I was fortunate enough to turn my life around and the tumultuous state of my mental health is largely an issue of my past.
Whilst there’s no individual source that has transformed my life around, I can attribute my inner growth to various self-care practices that i’ve managed to maintain on a daily basis for a number of years. One of those is – you guessed it, journalling. The several minutes I devote to writing my thoughts on a page has provided me with immense clarity and direction. Disentangling my chaotic thoughts provides perspective. It gives me the ability to pause, vent and eventually cultivate rational thoughts about what I have said and done. It allows me to reflect upon my reactions; my inner interpretations of the world and people around me. Journalling has given me the space to explore my true values; to ultimately guide goal-setting and a more meaningful and purposeful life. It has given me the time to truly be grateful for the innocuous things in my life that I previously overlooked. Ultimately, it’s made me a more appreciate and proactive person.
So whilst a lot of what we see on social media can actually be precluding self-development, I think the obsession with journalling is actually one of those practices with legitimate value. It’s not going to immediately change your life and be the cure of your turmoil, but over a period of time you will find that it has the power to change your beliefs about yourself and perceptions of the world around you. It will give you a greater understanding of your values and what you want out of this life. This deeper sense of knowing yourself and why you are the way you are creates the space for self-acceptance, and ultimately, the growth that might just transform your life in the long-run. be Here are some thought-provoking journalling prompts that you can use to get started:
- Write down three things you are grateful for today and why.
- What is a moment from yesterday that made you laugh?
- Go into detail about something good that has happened to you the past week. Where were you? What were you wearing? Who were you with? What was the weather like? Provide as much detail and reflection as you can.
- Think back to your life 5 years ago. In what ways has your life improved?
- What are your three non-negotiable goals you would like to achieve today?
- What are three actionable steps you can take that will help you achieve one or more of your goals today?
- Think of a negative experience that has happened to your recently. How can you reframe it to be grateful that it happened? For example, it might have taught you a lesson, or made you more aware of the good things in your life.
- In what ways can you help someone else today?
- Think about your core values. Are your daily habits in line with these values, and if not, why?
- Think of a challenging experience you’ve undergone. How did you get through it, and how will you use this experience to confront future challenges?
- What is it about your personality that you like? List all the things.
- What is something you would like to change about your personality, and what is an actionable step that you can do today towards making this change?
- Think of a family member or close friend, and write a paragraph about what you appreciate about them.
- Consider some strongly-held beliefs about yourself that might be limiting your growth. Is it possible that these beliefs aren’t true, and how can you change them?
- Think of the type of person you want to be in a year. What are their daily habits? What do their friends look like? What type of work are they doing? How do they treat other people? Now list some things you can do today to start becoming that person.
- Whats a decision that you have made recently that was heavily influenced by the opinion of someone else, or other people? Why do you think their opinion mattered so much?
- Is there a negative experience in the past that you are holding on to, and what will it mean for yourself if you can let it go?
- What are three of your favourite hobbies? What is it about these things that you enjoy, and how will you make time for them in the near future?
- What are three things you appreciate about your body?
- What are some things about your life that you often take for granted, that if you were no longer to have would be a rude awakening?