Mental health and well-being are two topics I'm very passionate about. My interest didn't begin as a wandering curiosity, but instead from a deep-rooted desire to understand and 'fix' myself. I witnessed my mother and many others around me struggle with their mental health, and I've always been determined to avoid similar pitfalls. Most of the time, I couldn't put the weight of my worries or anxieties on others, so my solution was to work through them myself in creative ways.
One practice that has stuck with me for over a decade has been writing morning pages.
What are morning pages?
Morning pages are a practice coined by Julia Cameron that encourages you to work through blocks by journalling. I believe the practice was originally used to overcome creative blocks, but I've found they also help with emotional, and logistical blocks as well.
How do you do it?
It's simple: every morning (or whenever you get around to it) write 3 pages stream of consciousness. Sounds easy right? Well, the key is to not censor yourself. Even if you have nothing to say, you write "I have nothing to write" for three WHOLE pages. It sounds crazy I know, but what I've found is that even when I think I have nothing to write, there are always thoughts, feelings, and ideas swarming just beneath the surface. Once you've written three pages, you can either keep them to read at another time, or dispose of them. Just remember, these pages are for no one's eyes but your own.
Think of it as a written meditation. Write down every thought that crosses your mind as you have it.
The writing itself takes you from point A to point B. Knowing that you can dispose of whatever you write allows you to get those raw, vulnerable or scandalous thoughts out of your head. And if the thought is negative, leave it on the paper and move along. But if you come up with a solution or an amazing idea, move WITH it.
What are the benefits?
When I write morning pages I not only feel grounded and reoriented, I usually feel a certain amount of clarity that I don't get otherwise. Maybe it's the routine of it, or forcing myself to go beyond what I think is possible. But it's only after I hit the point that I can't write anymore that I come to my best solutions. Morning pages allow me to get all my thoughts out in a very neutral way, to listen to my inner voice and trust that I know everything I need to know.
So in a nutshell, what are the pros?
- You come to solutions by yourself. This is huge because only you know the full scope of your life and desires. Advice from others has its perks, but at the end of the day no one knows your life as intimately as you do.
- You quiet down enough to hear your inner self. Our world is loud and noisy! We're constantly bombarded by other's voices, and opinions. Sometimes we don't slow down enough to acknowledge how we really feel. Other times we're so distracted we lose out on potential ideas by directing our attention down other avenues.
- No one else has to deal with your problems. Because let's be real, we all hate when other people are constantly complaining. Freeing yourself of negativity allows you to engage with others on a higher level.
- You feel better! But seriously, don't take my word for it. Challenge yourself to this practice for a week, and see how you feel. I know there isn't a one size fits all solution for everyone so sometimes you just have to experiment.
Remember to have fun with it. Make the practice your own (if 3 pages isn't your thing, try two!) Just remember the one rule: Don't judge anything. Allow yourself the opportunity to be 100% you and see what happens.