Most of my regular readers know I suffer with anxiety, and over the years I've developed some useful journal spreads that can be helpful when I'm feeling a bit blue. As well as putting together a feel-good playlist, I wanted to talk about another three pages I keep active in my journal to help with anxiety, depression, OCD and any other mental health troubles you may be facing.
But first, a necessary disclaimer. E. Rachael Hardcastle/Curious Cat Books is not a medical or legal professional and speaks from experience please refer to the website's policy.
A quotes spread, however basic this may seem, is a great way to remind yourself of some important and positive things when you're struggling. Alongside quotes from my favourite movies and books—quotes that resonate with me for any reason—I collect stickers to remind me 'I've got this', 'it's just a bad day' and 'believe in yourself'.
Some of these are a bit cheesy (or a lot cheesy!), but oftentimes we feel worse because we assume we're going through these feelings on our own. Just the knowledge someone thought to create such a sticker reminds me there are others out there who understand and share the same troubles. It's OK to have an off day—reading something short and uplifting can act as a sort of positive affirmation mantra.
I also have a quote from Noah Finn & the Art of Suicide (2017) on that page, which I printed out on sticker paper. The quote* reads:
"So if you're ever struggling, look to the sky. Think you can see stars? You can. And the stars see you. None of us are ever alone. Not really."
Go ahead and write that in your own journal to get you started if you find it meaningful.
*This quote is available as a downloadable print-out/poster to anyone who owns a copy (digital or physical) of the book. To find out how to access your secret extras, message me through this website for the free link. Contact me here.
2. 150 Words Challenge
The 150 Word Challenge* is a social media post I created last year to encourage my readers and followers to treat themselves kinder. The world and its people can be cruel, so it's important to be as kind to (and forgiving of) yourself as you can.
I find listing all the things I am (or want to be) helps me to envision a stronger Rachael when I'm struggling. Here are a few examples: creative, imaginative, passionate...
The challenge is to reach 150 words or more that positively describe who you are now or who you want to become. Whilst it's a great activity to keep you focused, it's also a nice spread to build on over time and handy to recite on the days you're beating yourself up over something.
To download your free 150 Words Challenge PDF, visit https://www.curiouscatbooks.co.uk/ and hover over Shop, then click Free Affirmations PDF.
3. Anxiety Tracker
Those of you who use a bullet journal I'm sure will be familiar with the term 'tracker' and the variety of layouts and creative designs you can use. That in itself helps me with anxiety—creating something fun with lots of colour (that's also useful!) is therapeutic.
But my anxiety tracker is fairly plain in my current journal, and it includes a few stickers with dates down one side and a description on the other. I log when I'm feeling anxious and what I was doing at the time so I can monitor anything that triggers those emotions. I also log how and if I managed to overcome it.
By doing this, I can (in a small way) self-diagnose the causes and preferred treatments for my anxiety. And, should I ever need to evidence this to a health professional, it's all logged and ready to hand over as a report*—though I hope I never need to!
*On a completely different note, I also do this for my car should it need to go to the garage!
I hope you found those three spread ideas useful. Remember to download your freebies through the links above, and let me know if you have spread ideas to share with me. You can tweet me @erhardcastle or find me on Facebook @erachaelhardcastle (and the same handle on Instagram!).