Dear Diary

I recently started keeping a health journal that I write in religiously each morning and evening, and this little treasure trove of information has helped me to track the correlation between what I do and the resulting impact on my symptoms. I used to think that I didn’t have time to add yet another activity into each day, but there is much wisdom to be found in these pages, and journalling has now become one of the most important things that I am doing to aid my recovery.  As I leaf through the pages of this eye-opening companion, I have a bird’s eye view of my physical, mental, and emotional health; I then take ownership and try to make changes where necessary. Our bodies always give us information throughout the day, and this is one way of setting aside the time to listen…

It is widely acknowledged that journalling has many therapeutic benefits; you can clear out the clutter in your mind, set goals, become more self-aware, reflect on patterns of behaviour, and ultimately aid personal growth. The act of preserving some precious moments and making time for yourself with a journal and a pen can be incredibly healing.  Journalling is a healthy way to express your emotions rather than keeping them bottled up; this can your time to be uncensored and to spill everything onto pages, ripping out and then destroying these pages can also have a powerful purging effect and help you to let go of what needs to be released.

A health journal isn’t just for those who are ill or for hypochondriacs, it can also be used as a preventative measure against any health problems that may be starting; they can then be nipped in the bud before they build any more momentum.

Journalling is never about blame or shame, but it is about introspection. I track my nutrition, sugar intake, stress levels, sleep, emotions, self-care, exercise, symptoms, screen time, interventions that I have made, and so on. I identify where I am sabotaging my health, and I explore what has triggered my symptoms by looking at when they begin and end; this then encourages me to be more aware of my habits throughout the day. I have even written a letter to myself from my symptoms to help me to reflect on what my body wants me to know. I try to find meaning in each page and there is always a lesson to reflect on at the end of each day. On the days that writing is difficult, I draw, or just scribble; this is my way of letting go of striving for neat and tidy perfection.  

However, there can be more to journalling than tracking health; I record quotations that inspire me, mantras and affirmations, things that I’ve done that day, and future goals. Some people journal to record fitness goals, as a tool to develop their careers, or even to write their own life-story for their children. The options are endless, the important thing is that you are taking time to reflect and trying to find solutions to problems. You may find that there is quite a lot that you can do to help yourself and improve your circumstances where necessary.   

My hope is that those of you who decide to start journalling will find it as enjoyable as I do. Your journal can become your survival manual through highs and lows, a listening ear, and a tool for transformation. Just start and see where your pen leads you, after all, if it helped Adrian Mole and Bridget Jones to make sense of life, it might just do the same for you too…

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