Why start journaling to record your menopause experience, and how will it help?
Journal writing is not just for seventeenth-century authors in their dusty lofts. It has had a massive resurgence in recent years, particularly in the wellness and mental health sectors, and there is good reason for this.
It can be incredibly insightful to write down your daily thoughts, fears and hopes, and is therefore a useful tool in improving your day to day life. It is a real opportunity for self-growth and self-compassion.
In menopause, your irrational thoughts can sometimes take over and start the stress response coursing through your body. By writing things down, either first thing in the morning or last thing at night (or perhaps a little of both), you can take those worrying thoughts out of your brain and onto the page, and dissect them. It is an incredibly powerful self-help method and one I would whole-heartedly recommend.
What does journaling entail?
The main thing is to write something every day!
It may take a couple of weeks to get into a routine but try to be disciplined about writing daily, even if it’s just to write ‘I am exhausted today so I cannot face writing anything!’
If you don’t fancy writing every day, maybe doodle or draw if that works better for you, perhaps in a comic-strip way with just a few words to accompany the drawings.
What should I write about?
Basically anything you want or feel the need to get off your chest, but here are some ideas:
Firstly, take the time to reflect on the day before if you’re writing in the morning, or write down what happened in the day if you write last thing at night.
What is on your mind?
Is it something that can be fixed?
Are you talking yourself into, or out of something, and perhaps being a tad irrational?
What menopausal symptoms are concerning you today?
Do you have anything bothering you about work, or your marriage, or your children?
Write down what you eat and drink, and note how certain foods or drinks may be triggers for you. If you have a particularly sugar-fuelled day for example, how does that make you feel? Are your energy levels affected? Some of my own observations when writing about food intake were stark, and I definitely found a correlation between my fatigue and the different kinds of food that I consumed.
If I was tired, I always reached for the biscuit tin, the chocolate cupboard or the ice-cream! The language I would use if I ate a lot of these things was very negative, ranging from ‘I hate myself for my sugar addiction’ to ‘ I didn’t write my journal yesterday because I was so ashamed of the rubbish that I ate’
This has taught me a valuable lesson; don’t self-judge, but instead be forgiving and understanding of yourself if you have a sugar-fuelled day. You’re not Superwoman!
On the flip side, when I had a few healthy days of eggs, chicken, avocados and ‘clean’ food, my energy levels were positively affected and, on those days, I exercised, slept better and had a more favourable view of myself.
Yes, the G word. This is a wonderful way to reflect on things you are thankful for, even if it’s just one thing a day like the sun shining or the kids getting up for school or college on time. It really does begin to change your outlook and make things look brighter. Not to be underestimated!
Energy Levels/Sleep Pattern:
It is useful to mark your energy out of 10 when you wake up, 1 being no energy and 10 being ‘Dancing on the Ceiling’ levels!
Do you have more energy at certain times of the month?
Does food affect your energy, or alcohol, or the amount of sleep you had?
Write down whether you had a good night’s sleep or not.
On low energy days you may write a lot less, even down to the bare bones of food, drink and how you slept. But this is OK too!
There are many more subjects and triggers you can write about in a journal which would take up far more space than a blog, so please do get in touch if you need advice.
The main action though is to start, so why put off until tomorrow what you can do today, grab a pen and a pad and you will be amazed at how well you will get to know yourself!