Dear diary ...
Just kidding, I'm not talking about that kind of journal, however that was my first thought when I heard about people journaling.
I pictured a teenage girl lying on her bed with a pink notebook which includes a padlock and a sticker saying "keep out", writing about which boy she has a crush on this week.
However, I have since learned of another form of journaling. One which can be used as a tool against anxiety and can teach us to focus on all the good things in our life rather than dwell on the negative.
I've always been pretty open about my own battles with anxiety and depression.
About five years ago I saw a counsellor who explained that, for some people, the tendency for anxious or negative thoughts will always be there.
But, we can control it.
The first step is realising that's how your brain works, the second is developing tools to deal with it and keep those feelings as dormant as possible.
Since then I've spent a lot of time working on those tools and looking into new ones that I can add into the mix.
I know that I am much more inclined to see the positives in the world if I am well rested, so I've been looking at ways to improve my sleep quality.
I recently listened to an episode of On Purpose, by British author Jay Shetty, titled Six Simple and Effective Habits to do Before Bed Time.
Some of the habits I was already doing such as turning my phone off an hour before bed, taking a walk during my shift to get away from my computer and stretch my legs (the natural light is good for your circadian rhythm), going to bed and getting up at the same time each day and having an intentional routine before bed.
The habit that was new to me was keeping a journal. I had to do further research on what this involves but after a couple of weeks, I'm loving it.
Every morning, before I've turned my phone on or started preparing for the day, I sit and fill out three questions: What are three things I'm grateful for today, three things that will make today great and one positive affirmation?
Things I'm grateful for can be as simple as friends and family who love me, a job I enjoy doing every day, even the love and affection my cat Lulu gives me.
What will make today great is usually more specific to that day. I'm having lunch with a good friend, there's rugby league on tonight or a good workout programmed at the gym.
The positive affirmation is the part I really like. It can be quotes or ideas that resonate with you. One example that is helpful for me is: "There are many things I can't control, but I can control how I react to them".
At night, before getting into bed, I write three things that made today amazing and one thing that could've gone better.
You might be thinking "yeah, but what's the point in all this?", and that was my first instinct too.
However, I've found it to be a great way to set my mind state for the day.
When I'm not in a great place mentally, my default position tends to be negative. I think about what might go wrong today, all the reasons people might not like me or the reasons other people's lives are better than mine.
When I start the day feeling that way, it can be easy for things to start spiralling. Before I know it, I'm withdrawn, I don't want to be around anyone and I can't focus.
Writing in a journal each morning has helped prevent that sort of downward spiral before it starts because I'm forcing myself to focus on what I have to be grateful for and all the reasons I should feel happy and excited about the day.
I don't have to go to work, I GET to go to work. I don't have to wake up early and go to the gym, I GET to.
It's sad to think about how often I let my own mind attack me and get me down. It's like keying your own car, it's self-destructive.
On the other hand, feeling like I'm in control of my own thoughts and feelings is really empowering.