Tag Archives: Quietude

Journaling as Self-Care

Reading self-help books and blogs and articles can be, well, helpful. Reading other people’s journeys towards enlightenment can be inspiring. Trying out other’s advice can be transformative.  Self-help writing can open our eyes to other ways of thinking, being, giving, and living. It can help us grow in ways we wouldn’t have or couldn’t have all on our own.

But self-help writing is still always external. No matter how much we read, we are always consuming. We may internalize some practices, but it’s like a mirror — reflecting back what we’ve taken in — without the added depth of our true selves.

Journaling, however, is the act of digging down to the spring where our own creativity and wisdom dwells. Exploring the deepest parts of our selves is where we truly find power, where we become comfortable with ourselves for exactly who we are — with all the knowledge we’ve absorbed and our most sincere, innate beliefs. And exploring this spring through writing is how these values bubble up to the surface and solidify into the strength of our uniqueness.

I’ve kept journals and diaries quite consistently for over 18 years. I really believe the practice has helped raise and stabilize my self-esteem throughout many different phases of my life. My journals have always been a place for me and only me — a place where I had no one to please or impress but myself, a place where I was silly and had fun, a place where I let all my guards down and was unabashedly, unashamedly myself.

We can write anything in our journals and diaries. It is so freeing.

In addition to recording and processing my days and experiences, I have also used my journals for more purposeful exercises: venting, gratitude, and intentions.

  • Venting. The earliest form of my learning how to cope, venting in the privacy of my journal has helped me process feelings and be mindful of how I wanted to act on them. It has allowed me to get hurtful thoughts out without sending them to another actual person. It has helped me get past difficult incidents. I vent and then I am better able to move on. I can leave it behind me once it’s written in my journal.
  • Gratitude. Years ago, probably in synchronization with The Secret‘s rise in popularity, I started keeping a daily list of what I’m thankful for. If you want to know the specific scientific benefits of this, I suggest you do your own research. But I can tell you from personal experience that practicing daily gratitude, actually writing it down, is great for perspective, self-esteem, and appreciating the life you have now despite how successful you are in any current endeavors.
  • Intentions. I’ve just started this recently and so am just starting to see how it affects my life, but I am noticing a difference. Like, on the days where I take the time to set my intentions for the days, I am not only more mindful of what I want, I find it just happens easier even without me actually thinking about it. For example, on days I set the intention to be patient, calm, and loving with my children, I find reserves of patience, calmness, and love that I might not have felt on a day where I didn’t set that intention. Even intentions like “All of Wingnut’s pee goes in the toilet” and “Dozer eats and digests well” seems to affect them, and thus me, in that I have less pee and spit-up to clean up. I also try to stay away from wishful wording and set my intentions in the present tense because, you know, wibbly wobbly timey wimey.

I know I said that we can write anything in our journals, but I also don’t think it is very helpful or useful to use writing to dwell on disappointments. Venting is one thing, but then I think it’s important to explore how we can come out of disappointments on top, even if it’s only by our state of mind. After all, what is a journal but a written state of mind? What is our whole life experience but a state of mind?

If you would like some tips on starting your own journal or diary, I found this article to be helpful in an open, simple way.

9 Easy Ways to Watch Less TV

I don’t like everything about tv (as you can see here), but I think watching some is okay. In addition to making sure we watch “good” tv, we would probably benefit from watching a little less of it, too. So here are a few changes we can make to our lives or homes to make tv-watching a mindful event instead of a mindless habit.

  • No televisions in the bedrooms – here are 18 good reasons why.
  • No televisions in the kitchen – cooking shows are impossibly fast to follow along with IRL anyway. Plan the meal first, cook following written reminders if needed, and eat together if possible. Even if we need to eat alone, we can be more aware of tastes, flavors, and textures, thus enjoying the meal better than if we were distracted by a screen.
  • Better still, have only 1 television in the house – even if you have room for more televisions in your home, consider keeping only 1, and don’t make it the focal point of the room. Living rooms and family rooms are for living and family. Design a room around social interaction and it’s more likely that memorable social interaction will happen. And then, even when we’re watching tv, we will be doing it together, cooperating about what to watch, and sharing the experience.
  • Turn the television off when you’re done – just makes sense, doesn’t it?
  • No televisions in the car – long drives are great opportunities for conversations, listening to music, enjoying silence, or letting the mind (and imagination) wander. Traveling is an experience — enjoy the unique surroundings.
  • Go to restaurants that don’t have televisions hanging everywhere – I really don’t like televisions in restaurants. Nobody’s really watching them (there’s too much noise), but their flashiness can be huge distractions, even to someone who is trying to ignore them. Restaurants without televisions are getting harder and harder to find where I live (especially without paying $20+ per plate) and I think it’s a shame.
  • Don’t stream videos to distract children – children need to learn how to occupy themselves, be patient, be pleasant around others, and be present. The only way they will learn to do all that is by practicing. We need to let them have lots of opportunities to practice.
  • Limit the amount of time spent watching – the other options are more decide-and-be-done, whereas this one takes some self-discipline. If you have the willpower, create guidelines for yourself, such as: only 2 movies per week, only 2 hours tv per day, only 3 episodes per day, or whatever.
  • Cancel your cable or streaming subscription – You don’t have to cancel all of them of course, but if you have less to watch, you will watch less. Getting rid of cable also gets rid of commercials (win!). And having less subscriptions means you’ll save money.

Just imagine all of the other things we will be able to do now that we aren’t spending so much time watching tv.

The Importance of Rest

I’m not an expert on anything. But I do know that when it comes to myself (I guess I am kind of an expert on myself), rest is key.

For me, the daily rest I need is at least 7 hours, preferably 8 hours, or sleep per night. But when I’m feeling exhausted, I need to take a break — even if it’s just sitting on the couch for 5 minutes. Rest is the only thing that can properly recharge me.

Now that I’m pregnant with my third child (surprise!), rest is even more important. Hurray naps! And we all need to remember to pay attention to any special situations that may require more rest for our bodies.

For example, when we’re sick, especially with something as seemingly harmless as a cold, we sometimes kind of just power through it. We acknowledge we’re sick, feel miserable, maybe take some drugs, and then slog through so our daily lives aren’t interrupted. We may want to just magically feel better, but we need to take care of ourselves.

I think this may be because we’re afraid of seeming weak, or asking for help, or just dealing with an inconvenience in our lives. But the truth is, sometimes we just need rest. Science has come a long way, but there is still no substitute for some good, solid, rest.

And, man, do we need it sometimes. Let’s give it to ourselves! Just like our bodies need food, water, and activity, they need rest. Let’s not forget this important part of our lively balance. Sometimes, I even schedule it right into my day.

Remember, balance is poise — a graceful and elegant bearing in a person.

6 Benefits of Quietude

Quietude isn’t talked about much outside of meditation, but I think there are benefits to it, even in a passive and unstructured manner.

I’m talking about the kind of quietude that comes from natural surroundings, even if the noises that are present aren’t completely natural. I’m not saying you have to be deep in the forest or on the top of a mountain to appreciate quietude. I’m thinking more along the lines of turn off the music/tv/radio, log off of social media/mass media/niche media, stop reading/listening/skimming/consumingstop looking at your damn phone — just slow down the amount of information coming in so that you can let your mind slow down, too.

I’m encouraging the kind of quietude you can find anywhere. Just sit in a waiting room without checking your phone or flipping through a magazine. Just wash as you stand over that pile of dishes in the sink. Just drive while you’re in your car (or just passenge). Just stand outside your house. Just lie in bed.

Just be in the moment.

Here are a few benefits:

  1. You don’t really have to think about anything. You’ll go on breathing and not falling over — I mean, unless you have some sort of condition for that sort of thing.
  2. If you are not saying anything, you cannot say anything stupid.
  3. If you are not taking anything in, you will not feel any stress induced by disagreement, worry, or misunderstanding.
  4. More focus — on something in particular or nothing at all.
  5. It is truly relaxing.
  6. It is simply pleasurable. At least, I personally find it to be so.

So go forth and make an effort to enjoy some quietude today.