Cathartic expression | Writing as a form of therapy
If you were to ask me what my favorite hobbies are, sitting on my couch curled up in my fuzzy fleece blanket and journal would definitely be at the top of the list. I started carving out time to journal back in 2013 when I lost my job and had difficulty finding another one. As I navigated through a space of uncertainty and confusion of my purpose writing is what made me feel most at ease.
It was around this time when I was at my lowest where I say my relationship with God truly started. I started writing letters to God in my journal as a form of prayer and immediately felt a sense of peace all over.
Those simple prayers have transformed over the past 6 years to a literal form a therapy through catharsis.
Catharsis: the purging of emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art
Jumping back to 2013, shortly before I started journaling I started practicing yoga. I loved yoga because whenever I would feel stressed or uneasy I could just hop on my mat and the tears would stop falling and the pain would go away.
There were days where I would practice for 4-5 hours, strengthening my flow or working towards a difficult arm balance. I was determined and the challenge gave me purpose while distracting me from my real problems.
Whenever I would get still and the feelings would resurface I’d just hop back on my mat until they went away again.
Little did I know how toxic this behavior was and how it was inhibiting my own personal growth as an individual.
One day when I tried to turn to yoga I realized that the pain just wouldn’t go away. I found myself crying on my yoga mat and realized at that moment that I had to face the root cause of what was going on.
I opened my journal and began to write.
Not worrying about correct spelling or punctuation. Just dumping whatever was on my heart, what showed up, and what I was feeling on the page.
Hours later with tear stained pages I felt a subtle relief. What happened? My situation and circumstances were the same but yet I felt a sense of peace.
It was that day that I realized that I could no longer suppress my feelings. I needed to be present in the moment and observe what showed up when I allowed myself to get still and just feel.
Writing has definitely served as a form of therapy because I no longer hold things in. When you do so it only builds and there will be a point of explosion. It’s inevitable.
Fast forwarding to present day, I still maintain an active journaling practice. I’ve put the paper and pen down and have began to explore journaling electronically in my Notes app on my iPhone and mac book. It’s more convenient because, if needed, I can just pull the car over mid drive and jot down some notes on what I’m feeling. I have many entries a day and it serves as the perfect supplement to my regular psychotherapy sessions.
These are the exact questions I use to dissect what I am going through instead of suppressing my feelings:
What is triggering me?
Why does this bother me?
What can I do about it?
What changes can I make to release these feelings in this moment?
How will I handle the situation if it arises in the future?
Interested in starting a practice of your own?
Tools to get started:
1. Find a medium:
Journal and pen
Moleskine - These journals are my favorite notebooks. They’re very minimalistic as they are simple and thin, fined ruled and hold a lot of pages.
Pilot Razor Point pens - I love a good pen. Currently these are my favorite due to the boldness of the ink and easeful glide.
I mentioned the Notes app that comes with all Apple products is my favorite. You can lock the note through password protection if you’re worried about someone else taking a peak. That way you’re free to be completely honest and not hold anything back. Going digital is the ultimate way of a minimalist who journals as you’re reducing the amount of things in your home.
2. Use prompts if words don’t flow naturally
I know journaling does not come easy to everyone. Trying to decide what to write about when you have difficulty processing your thoughts is one of the biggest challenges. This is why I have created 21 journaling prompts to help you get started! Download below for free!
3. Getting Clear: Manifestation Journaling Workshop
Need a little more direction? I shared a journaling workshop in my online membership space, Elevate, earlier this year. I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on it as it’s helped people find the motivation and clear guidance they need to start an effect journaling practice. If you’re not a member yet, you can get your first month free by using the code “FREE” at check out. Cancel anytime :)
Let’s do it!
21 Day Journal Challenge
Journaling has been something that has truly transformed my life.
This month’s challenge is to commit to a journaling practice whether you are just starting out or have been journaling for a while. 21 days is all it take to commit to a new habit.
Find a notebook that you can allocate solely to your journaling practice or maybe go digital and create a google doc or use an app. There’s no hard core rules of the source but just making sure you take time to write daily.
With love and light,
xo Vanessa Michele