*) It may not be the cozy-and-comfy self-care journaling prompts you are expecting…
I used to think that self-care means taking the time to do the things that will make you feel good. However, lately, I realized lately that self-care is not only about doing things that will make you feel good; but also about doing things that are good for you; even when initially, they don’t feel good.
Self-care is not always rainbows and marshmallows. At times, taking good care of ourselves can feel uncomfortable, difficult, and challenging. Here are some of my go-to journaling prompts for self-care:
1. WHAT AM I RESENTFUL OF AND HOW CAN I LET IT GO?
Do you feel like you hate something, or hold a grudge against someone? Is there a situation that makes you feel bad, stressed out, or agitated? Is there anything you can do to let it go, even if only a little bit? Maybe by being assertive, communicating your needs, or setting boundaries? Is it something you can or can’t change? Maybe by accepting that you can’t change someone or something?
2. WHICH AREA OF MY LIFE NEEDS A BIT OF TIDYING?
Are there specific areas of your life that feel or look a bit messy? Maybe it feels abandoned, or you haven’t been in touch with it for quite some time. Perhaps one area is too heavy and packed with too many things you have no room to breathe. How can you tidy this area of life a little bit? What can you do for 5-10 minutes a day to do a little clean-up?
3. HOW CAN I TREAT MYSELF AND OTHERS MORE KINDLY?
How have you been treating yourself? How have you been talking to yourself lately? Have you been kind and understanding, or harsh and judgmental? How have you been treating others: colleagues, friends, spouses, family members… are there more ways in which you can treat yourself and others kindly, mindfully, patiently?
4. WHICH BOUNDARIES DO I NEED TO SET? WHAT DO I NEED?
What are the things you wish you could say NO to? Why? Which part of these things you do not like—and how would it impact you in the long run if you do not set boundaries or express your needs clearly? Are there people in your life who always cross your boundaries? What makes them think it’s okay to cross your boundaries? Is there anything you can do to protect yourself, your time, and your energy?
5. WHAT HAVE I BEEN PROCRASTINATING ABOUT? WHAT IS THE ONE THING I CAN DO TODAY TO FREE UP SOME SPACE?
The things that we don’t do (but we know we need to do at some point) take up mental space in our minds. Postponing them is like piling one thing on top of another, and the more things we postpone or delay, the more burden we place onto our minds. It feels like a black cloud that follows us everywhere, hanging low above our heads.
6. DO I FEEL LIKE I AM OWING SOMETHING TO SOMEONE?
This doesn’t always mean owing money.
Maybe we feel like we owe an apology to someone we’ve hurt in the past. Maybe we feel like we owe that quality time of spending a weekend together to our spouse. Maybe we feel like we owe a thank-you to someone who has helped or contributed something meaningful to our lives.
The feeling of ‘owing’ something to someone (also to ourselves!), can weigh us down. It’s something that needs to be expressed but haven’t—and in the long run, it can make us feel guilty or regretful. The act of ‘paying what we owe’ can make us feel lighter.
Maybe you owe yourself a good rest? Nutritious food? That 45-minute exercise? An apology? Or a pat in the back?
7. WHAT WOULD I DO TODAY IF I LOVE AND RESPECT MYSELF?
This is the question I ask myself, again and again, several times a day, to remind me that self-care is not only about ‘loving’ myself but also about ‘respecting’ myself.
It’s not always about doing the things that feel (temporarily) good and easy, but also about doing the RIGHT thing for myself, even if it feels hard.