I read a post by my dear friend, Vinitha Dileep, on Morning Pages a while ago. It’s a concept introduced by Julia Cameron in her best selling book, ‘The Artist’s Way’–have you read it?
A very dear friend gifted me this book on my birthday back in June 2013. Then, I wasn’t a lot into reading self-help books, or non-fiction, so I was quite apprehensive about going through this particular tome.
But, something changed in me when I began reading Julia’s words. It felt like this book was written especially for me!
Six years ago, I wasn’t into blogging. Heck, I wasn’t into anything back then except looking after my home, my pet and my mom-in-law!
Having quit my job, I was experiencing the “An empty mind is a devil’s workshop.” syndrome. Plus, there was the endless stress that gnawed at me right from the moment I woke up to the time I went to sleep at night.
Stress, when not dealt with, creates havoc on your entire system. Not just your mental health, but also your physical and emotional health take a massive beating. And, if there’s no one you can turn to for help, then, trust me, you will soon find yourself in an endless abyss, with no soul to get you out.
So, it was during that time that The Artist’s Way landed in my lap and, what can I say, reading its pages felt like the Universe was trying to help me!
Writing the MORNING PAGES:
I began writing the morning pages in earnest. Not because I wished to become a writer or a blogger. I do remember writing a couple of short essays for my friend (who gifted me this book) and receiving much praise from her and some encouraging words of “You are a gifted writer, Shilp!” too.
But, it was only after I began writing the morning pages that I realized two things:
- I got a clearer look at my writing, and
- a better way to deal with my stress, first thing in the morning.
So, today, I would like to share how writing helped me deal with my stress.
10 HEALTH BENEFITS OF WRITING:
How many of you maintained a diary as a kid? I remember I did, back when I was in college. I shared everything with my diary–the good stuff, the bad stuff, and the ugly stuff. I also remember how I hid it from prying eyes.
But, what I most remember is, feeling relaxed after sharing my thoughts with my diary.
I quit writing in my diary after some years, and it was only after receiving The Artist’s Way as a birthday gift that I began writing in my diary, once again.
Writing the morning pages was like sharing my deepest secrets with my closest friend–one who would never disclose those secrets to another soul.
Dealing with mental illness is not easy. And, being the caregiver of not one but two mental illness patients is…well, it wrung the life out of me.
The stress is an everyday companion who refuses to leave you alone. And, it is this stress that I needed to deal with before it broke me completely.
And, so I began writing and relieving myself of the stress that clung to me like a cloak all day.
- Writing helped me pour out my feelings of anger, fear, anxiety, and guilt. I couldn’t share those with anyone as freely as I shared those in my morning pages.
- Writing about those emotions was a release I needed then because bottling up these emotions is injurious to your health! Simple as that.
- Your anger can kill you, and your fear can leave you anxious, panic-stricken. And, being the caregiver of two mental illness patients and one canine, I couldn’t afford to take my health for granted.
- Writing gave me a clear perspective on everything. It helped me realize how I was wasting mental energy on issues that were not in my control. It helped me understand the issues that needed my attention and also those that I needed to ignore.
- Not having a close friend whom I could meet every day, I needed someone I could talk to. And, it was writing that gave me that friend. My diary became my best friend who would never judge me or shut me up for chewing her brains with my problems. My diary would listen to me patiently, be the strong shoulder I needed to lean on.
- Writing the morning pages basically helped me to understand Life, understand the problems I was facing and how nothing about it all was in my control, so I might as well learn to just control my emotions!
- Today, writing helps me not only share my fears about certain personal matters but also draw up goals to follow.
- Listing monthly goals at the beginning of each month gives me a clear picture of what I need to work on.
- Writing helps me realize how far I have come from where I started a few years back, especially where my blogging/writing is concerned. But, most importantly, it makes me realize how I have changed/am changing as a person. In that, it helps me work on myself to be a better version of myself!
- And, finally, writing helps me keep track of my successes, and my achievements, however minuscule they may be. For, we do need to remember our triumphs, our wins, to encourage us when there’s no one else to do it for us! it’s what keeps us going, isn’t it?
Writing is, therefore, an exercise I would urge you to take up to be better able to deal with your stress and express your innermost emotions, freely. Whether you are dealing with chronic stress or acute stress.
Actually, irrespective of how much stress you are dealing with, or how good you are at managing your stress, write.
Irrespective of your profession or your passion; whether you are a creative person, or not, just write.
We deal with stress every day. And, finding a release for that stress is an important part of self-care.
Stress stored in our mind has great potential, you know? It could ruin our peace, wreak havoc on our mental wellbeing, affect our relationships with others and with ourselves and affect our everyday life in a way we might not even imagine.
Of course, you can share your stress with your close friends/family or even your therapist. But, for those times when you have no one to share your stress with, write.
Just pick up a pen and a paper (I believe in writing the old-fashioned way when doing this particular kind of writing) and pour your heart out.
Do not stop to think about what you ought to write. Just let it all out, however ugly it might be.
Do not read what you write, if you are writing your morning pages. Read if after a few days, but not immediately.
And, finally, do not…I repeat, do not judge yourself for what you write. Remember, you are a human, blessed with the ability to think all sorts of stuff about life, about people, about anything and everything.
So, writing fearlessly, writing wholeheartedly, writing non-judgementally is what will help you not only unload your stress, but also understand yourself better.
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