In Mind

Please welcome my guest, Gravity Imprint author Rachel Thompson, who wrote Amazon’s #1 bestselling books and multi–award winning, Broken Pieces and Broken Places which are just two of a long list of books and anthologies. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, she is also the force behind www.Rachelintheoc.com and the director of the Gravity Imprint for Booktrope (my publisher).  I’m not sure when she has time to sleep but I’m honored to have her here.The Ways Journaling Can Improve Your Wellness

By Rachel Thompson

As a kid, I couldn’t wait to get my first diary. Always a writer (since the age of ten), I was thrilled to receive a rainbow covered, hard-bound book just for my thoughts, feelings, and adventures! How exciting!! Of course, I mostly filled it with scribbles of future short stories of goldfish and doodles of kittens, but that’s beside the point.

I filled it. And over the years I filled many, many more as I entered relationships, one in particular with a man I didn’t realize was abusive until I wrote out the horrible ways he treated me. Journaling helped me break it off. When he contacted me, over twenty years later – and three months before he killed himself – I turned to those journals for answers.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, it’s startling to look back on all those journals and see a lost, lonely child reaching inside blank pages for answers. Maybe I found them, maybe I didn’t…but now I can look back and see where I was. If I didn’t have those journals, I would never be able to capture those feelings and thoughts.

We are mortal, we are human, and we are fallible. Our memories change as we weave through time.

Journaling became for me a kind of lifeline, a way to express what I couldn’t say. It still is, in a way, though I’m now a bestselling author.

As adults, we are busy and we are often sick from all this busyness. No doubt, that statement resonates deeply with many of you – you know exactly what I mean. I am no different, suffering from chronic migraines, anxiety, and depression. I still journal, though it’s in a much different way – sometimes it’s only a word or adjective, a picture, or a sentence.

Many people are intimidated by journaling because they think there’s only one right way, and they can’t keep up with it. They start a journal and then stop, because they don’t write in it every day. So what? Do what you can. Give yourself permission, and give yourself a break.

Cool fact: did you know that journaling is actually good for your body and soul?Click To Tweet

University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research indicates that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennebaker believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health. (Source: PsychCentral.com)

Here are just five types of journals I’ve kept. Sometimes, I use all five techniques in ONE journal! Maybe one of these techniques will work for you:

  1. One-word or one-sentence: I do this a lot, particularly when I’m writing a book. It can be a random quote or sign, how I’m feeling, or something that strikes me as I’m going about my day. I let it roll around in my brain like a marble, but the act of writing it down helps me so much.Example: I wrote this down just yesterday…Types of memories: thought memory, body memory, soul memory. What’s the difference?
  2. Visual: Polaroid cameras work best for this. Take a picture and glue-stick it to the page. Add a caption if you wish. We are visual animals, and we tend to remember visually as well. One author I work with writes solely from her visual journals.
  3. Creativity: This is great for someone who is process-oriented like I am – it’s hard for me to let Ms. Right Brain take over. It’s messy! So a creativity journal is fun for me – I’ll take magazine clippings, print out something that catches my eye on Pinterest (which I love because I can organize it how I want LOL), add scribbles and stick-people sketches (writer here), use markers and colored pens – it’s like being a kid again. Often, out of that mess, comes inspiration for more writing!
  4. Gratitude: At my lowest point, after the C-Section birth of my second child, I suffered from horrific nausea and stomach issues, moderate post-partum depression, and as I struggled to lose the baby weight from months of bed rest and gestational diabetes, a new diagnosis of Hashimoto’s (an autoimmune thyroid disorder), as well as massive neck and shoulder pain. My husband (now ex) was at a loss how to run his business, take care of two kids and help me, and I felt pretty hopeless (despite meds and physician help).My nutritionist suggested I start a gratitude journal (I wish I’d had Lisa! But I’m grateful this gal looked at the whole me), and I can’t even tell you how much this journaling helped me. I’m not really into ‘inspirational’ hokey quotes, so at first I thought this kind of journal was pretty silly, yet I pushed through, every day asking myself, and answering, these three questions:What am I most grateful for today?

    What did I achieve today?

    What am I most looking forward to tomorrow?

    Asking myself those questions helped to alleviate my focus on the negativity, something we all tend to do in times of strife. And you know what? I still ask myself those questions daily today!

    5.  Health: If you are working with Lisa or another health practitioner, they likely will want you to keep track of the kind of health episodes you came to see them for in the first place. For me, I’ve kept track of migraines for years. This type of journal is an excellent diagnostic tool for your practitioner, so they can have some idea of what you are experiencing.

    To really make it helpful for you, I suggest adding in as much detail as possible – not only “I had a migraine,” but also what else was happening at the time. I’ll track diet that day, sleep, stressful events, etc., anything that may have contributed. Why? Perhaps there’s some sort of pattern that will emerge.

    I hope these ideas for journaling prove helpful to you. They certainly have for me, in more than one aspect. Try a few out and see what you think!

About the Author:

Rachel ThompsonRachel Thompson is the author of newly releasedBroken Places (one of IndieReader’s “Best of 2015”top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark andMancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope.

She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly.

Author Contact Information:

Author Site: rachelintheoc.com
BadRedhead Media Site: badredheadmedia.com
Twitter: @RachelintheOC
Twitter (Business): @BadRedheadMedia
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRachelThompson
Facebook Broken Pieces Fan Page:https://www.facebook.com/BrokenPiecesByRachelThompson
Facebook (Business): https://www.facebook.com/BadRedheadMedia
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+RachelThompson/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/rachelintheoc/
Instagram: https://instagram.com/rachelintheoc/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/rachel-thompson/24/784/b95
Goodreadshttp://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4619475.Rachel_Thompson
Author Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/j9oaH
BadRedhead Media Newsletter: 
http://eepurl.com/koN8r
Full-size Author Photo Link: http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o158/Froze8/RachelThompson_

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