2018 in review

I love this time of year for one thing, a chance to slow down, take time out from work and other commitments. A chance to reflect upon the year that has been and make plans and aspirations for the year to come.

In this blog I am going to look at what creative practices you might be able to look at in order to reflect on your year and plan some goals for next year. I would also like to share a tiny bit of my year and touch upon the idea of resilience, the ability to adapt to difficult circumstances and to ‘bounce back’.

I am not going to lie 2018 has at times been absolutely horrendous for me, not the worst year of my life, but a close contender!

I have faced various health concerns and lost a few close relationships, which led to intense periods of grief and overwhelming sadness.

This is where the idea of resilience comes in – as shown by the following info-graphics:

The first part of building resilience for me was to acknowledge what was going on with my body and my emotions, accepting what had happened and learning from mistakes.

Through the process of reflection I was eventually able to realise that I am a very strong person who can withstand difficult situations, who can take on board the learning from difficult situations, however difficult and painful these lessons are and use this as the impetus to grow further as a person.

This is by no means an easy and quick process. I would encourage you if you are going through a difficult time to where possible seek out the love and support of trusted friends and family members.

Family…
Friends…

If this is not possible, I would also highly advocate for the advantages of attending one-to-one counselling with a professional counsellor. This can be your 50 minutes each week to gain support and a space for personal reflection and growth in a confidential and non-judgemental environment.

The process of counselling can help you rediscover personal strengths and enable you to reflect on how you have managed difficult situations in the past and overcome them.

Creative practices for reflection

The benefits of journal writing…

You can choose to create a journal in whatever way you like. I think the key is to make your journal personal and meaningful to you. That way you are more likely to engage in the process of journal writing.

For me I like to choose a pretty design for each journal and use a mixture of the written word and pictures that I have drawn. You could also cut out pictures and quotes from magazines to include in your journal.

Here is one of my drawings:

The benefits of journal writing can include:

Emotional awareness

Writing a journal can be a simple way of processing your emotions, that is by the process of writing down your thoughts and feelings, you can figure out how you feel about various every day experiences, or past experiences. With this knowledge you can work through your emotions in a private , sacred place that is free from external influences.

What emotions might you discover in your journal?

Mindfulness

As many of my blog readers will know I am a massive advocate for mindfulness, one benefit of journal writing is that it can encourage a state of mindfulness, focusing the mind and body in the present moment.

By focusing your awareness on the present moment you can calmly acknowledge your thoughts and feelings.

With journaling, I often find that I am absorbed and focused in the process of writing, or drawing about my thoughts and feelings. As you can only write one thing at a time, therefore, journaling will call your wandering mind to attention and allow your stream of consciousness to flow.

Achieving goals

If you decide to use your journal for setting yourself goals, the process of journaling forces you to put your goals into writing. When you write down your goals you can turn vague desires into well-articulated targets you can clearly see and aim for. You’re taking the first step toward turning the desires in your head into something concrete that exists in the material world.

The following is one way of setting out goals:

A bullet journal

Spending a set amount of time each day to write in your journal about your goals, means that you are actively thinking about and planning how you could turn these goals into reality. This time could be as little as 10-20 minutes.

Having this set time each day where you write about your goals can hold you accountable and encourage you to put in the work needed to achieve your goals. For example, say if I had a goal to run the marathon in 2019, I could record in my journal the running and other training that I am doing each day in order to reach my goal of being fit enough to run 26.2 miles!

Recording steps that you have made towards achieving your goals in your journal can encourage you to keep going if you hit set-backs, or experience periods of low motivation.

Writing about successes in reaching your goals can help you reflect on how far you have grown and developed and you can use this success to push you onto the next goal.

An example of this for me is that I recently took part in an ice-skating show, which was a production of Cinderella:

After successfully participating in the show with these gorgeous ladies, I have been offered the opportunity to work on a routine of my very own! This will definitely motivate me to work more on my skating skills and I can journal (and blog!) to record my progress.

Self-confidence

Journaling is not just about writing about what is going well. It also helps to write about areas of your life you might need to work on. Writing down your thoughts and feeling can do wonders for your long term mental health (and physical health).

As soon as we start writing about positive things, our brains begin to relive the experiences. When our minds begin to do this, our body thinks the experiences are happening again. So, we get releases of endorphins and dopamine. Which will serve to boost your self-confidence continuously. This is where keeping a gratitude journal comes into play.

With a gratitude journal you can write down three positive things that have happened in your day, however small, in the process of writing you are training your brain to notice the positives. Three positives from my day could be that I’ve been ice-skating, I enjoyed playing Jenga with my son and I am warm and comfortable as I sit here writing this blog!

Give it a go, I would love to hear how you get on!

As ever it has been a pleasure to write this blog post. If you have any questions, or comments I would love to hear from you.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2019!

Mary

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