#SelfCareSaturday: The Magic of Journaling, Gratitude, and Affirmations

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Photo: Courtesy of @domsli22

In a year where everything feels frenzied and uncertain, falling into the anxiety trap seems (almost) unavoidable. Anxiety is a normal emotion – sort of like a safety check light installed in our brains to warn us against potential hazards – that can occasionally creep up on you before an important meeting or a critical decision. In my case, the anxiety would appear every single day – up until I stumbled upon a secret that changed my life forever.

After years of digging around the topic, I finally unearthed the magic tool to derail anxiety – gratitude. Yes, gratitude is an effective tool to interrupt your brain’s delirious chatter. Every single day, I begin with a mental list of things I am grateful for – even before I get out of bed. However, Saturdays are my favorite as it is the one day I (rather selfishly) reserve for my elaborate self-care routine complete with journaling and meditation.

Girl running - gratitude self care routine
Photo: Courtesy of @ulyaanay

I like to begin my #SelfCareSaturday routine early in the morning, right after I nourish myself with a warm cup of ginger tea. After gathering what I call my ‘Gratitude Kit’– which consists of my journal, colored pens, and scented candles – I head out onto the balcony (if the weather permits), as I prefer performing this exercise outdoors. What follows is my exact #SelfCareSaturday routine. While meditating and gratitude journaling will definitely help shift your energy, it is vital to educate yourself on the matter, to experiment, and to build your own routine based on what works best for you.

1

Take Deep Breaths

After hitting play on my ‘Sound Healing’ playlist, I close my eyes and draw a few deep breaths. Gradually, I clear my mind of all thoughts, focusing solely on the rhythm of my breathing and the peaceful soundtrack. Since there are no rules for this exercise, I continue with the deliberate inhales and exhales until my body feels energized with the flow of extra oxygen. As I open my eyes, I can feel myself entering a physical state of calm.

2

Exercise Gratitude

Writing down a list of things – both big and small – that you’re truly thankful for works wonders in elevating your mood. From saying “thank you” for my loved ones’ health and safety to being grateful for the miraculous disappearance of a bright red pimple just in time for a Zoom meeting, my gratitude rant goes on for a couple of pages.

I can feel a wave of positivity take over my otherwise anxious thoughts as my colorful pens glide over the paper, engraving it forever with words of appreciation. On days when I feel particularly playful, I alternate between different shades, underlining and highlighting words, and even doodling around the page.

girl writing - gratitude journaling
Photo: Courtesy of @jencmorton
3

Say Affirmations

Years and years of conditioning form our core beliefs and habits – and more often than not, they are not even our own. Writing down affirmations is a helpful technique to rewire your brain and erase negative thought patterns. To get in front of anxiety – which often tries to trick me into believing worst-case scenarios – I write down affirmations, shifting my focus to the positive “what ifs.” What is yet to unfold also gets written onto paper in the present tense, tricking my brain into being optimistic – my counterstrike against anxiety before it even shows up.

4

Perform Meditation

Meditating – arguably the most important step of my routine – comes with only one rule: follow what feels right. Before diving into a meditative state, I love setting up my space with a few candles. Some days, I scroll through my carefully curated list of guided meditations and hit play; on other days, I let my intuition take the lead. Skipping through daisy fields, floating on sea waves, and at times suspending myself on a giant pink cloud, I explore the depths of my mind, cleansing the anxious fog as I go.

After rubbing my brain squeaky clean, I gently float out of the meditative state, feeling like a whole new person. Rejuvenated and feeling light as a feather, I am now ready to take on the world. At least for a week.

pink clouds - gratitude self care routine
Photo: Courtyes of @sarashakeel
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