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5 reasons you should keep a journal

5 reasons you should keep a journal

I have kept a journal on and off since I was a teenager – I always loved to pour out my thoughts and ideas onto paper (it’s a shame I lost those teenage journals, I would have loved to read them today!). Journalling is now a firmly engrained habit in my life and I never go more than a couple of days without journalling.

Do you keep a journal? If not, here’s five good reasons you should!

1 |  It’s therapeutic

Whether you can barely get the words onto paper fast enough in excitement, or tears flow onto the page as you write down how you feel about a painful experience, journalling can be really therapeutic and it certainly is for me. There’s something about being able to get those thoughts and feelings inside of you onto paper that immediately lightens the load within and can also help to create more clarity. Some people don’t feel comfortable talking to someone else about their deepest, darkest thoughts or else don’t have anyone to talk to and so journalling is a great way to be able to have an outlet to express what’s on your heart. Even if it’s just a log about how your day went and what you hope to achieve over the rest of the week, it’s still therapeutic to get it out there onto paper. Research has indicated that keeping a journal can help to relieve stress and anxiety as you’re getting your feelings out onto paper which is another great reason to get your pen out. I have had some occasions where I’ve been really annoyed, ok, even angry! – and writing my annoyed, angry thoughts down helps to dissipate those angry feelings and stops me from saying things to people in haste that I might later regret. It often makes me see things in a totally different way, like ‘this is actually silly and not even worth getting angry over!’

2 |  Improve your productivity

Journalling has always been one of the foundation stones of starting my day – by journalling, I am setting my intentions for the day ahead and deciding what to focus my attention on rather than letting the day throw whatever it wants at me. As Jim Rohn once said ‘Either you run the day, or the day runs you!’ Throughout the day I know what intentions I set earlier and I make a conscious effort to ensure all my actions align with those intentions. Sure, sometimes other things come up unexpectedly but generally, it’s good to be in control of your day! Even if it’s just a short paragraph, journalling can help you organise those thoughts and ideas swirling around in your head and start taking action on them. If you’re journalling regularly too, you can see how you’re following through on the intentions you set from day to day, which leads me onto the next good reason to keep a journal …

3 |  Document your journey

Keeping a journal is a wonderful way to document your journey whether its personal or professional or both. I keep both a personal journal and a business journal and document my respective journeys in there. By getting the words out onto paper, it really does feel like a journey because each day I am taking another step and experiencing new things. The great thing is going back and reading your journals – this is something I only recently started doing when I realised that I really did need to properly review my past journey to learn lessons and reflect before continuing the next leg of my journey. By documenting your experiences and then looking back, say six months, or a year later, you realise how far you have come and how much you have grown as a person. And … you are literally writing the story of your life, how amazing is that?

4 |  Become more self-aware

Socrates famously told us to ‘Know thyself’. Journalling is probably one of the best ways to get to know yourself. It’s a great opportunity to do some deep self-reflection and self-discovery. So many people simply rush through each day without giving a moments’ thought to why they are doing what they are doing, or where they are actually going in the long term – they just go through the motions each day. By taking time to pause momentarily and write down your thoughts and feelings, you become much more aware of your real self, your ‘higher’ self, and the things that really matter to you. When I journal, I often feel as though I am observing myself as an outsider, this gives me a fresh perspective on things and allows me to almost coach myself, if that makes sense! Seeing what I’ve written down on paper makes those thoughts real and makes me far more aware of who I really am and what I need in that season of my life.

5 |  Improve your creativity

Finally, journalling allows you to unleash your creativity onto the page. There are no hard and fast rules for journalling, some people are short and to the point and others waffle on forever (yep, that’s me, although I do restrict myself nowadays!). By exploring your thoughts, feelings and emotions, you’re allowing your creativity to unfold and work its magic. We all have creativity within us, we just have to give it space to emerge and journalling is a great way to do that. I sometimes get random ideas pop into my head and I capture those ideas in my journal with a little lightbulb image next to it!  At some point, when I need some inspiration, I’ll look back for all my little lightbulb images and notes and viola – creativity starts to flow again!

There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of journals out there and I’m sure there is at least one that suits your needs – from bullet journals to write as much as you want journals, and everything in between.

Because I love using planners to stay organised and love to journal too, I created my own bespoke ‘planner-journal’ called the Born to Flourish ® planner-journal. It combines all the practicalities of a planner (with planning and organising aspects) together with the all-important ‘mindset’ elements of a journal. It has a strong focus on personal growth with plenty of daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly prompts and reflections to keep you focused on what truly matters to you. I use my planner-journal every day and now share it with anyone who wants to use it in their own journey to flourishing and being all they were destined to be!

You can check out my Born to Flourish ® planner-journal which is available in printable PDF and Digital formats (to use on your iPad / tablet) << RIGHT HERE! >>

Do you keep a journal? What do you love most about it?

5 things to include in your morning routine

5 things to include in your morning routine

I am all about FLOURISHING and being the best we can possibly be and a great way to set yourself on the path to flourishing is to start your day right!

Mornings are often a rush to beat the clock and get out the door but I’ve found that if I make the time and effort to start my day with intention, the rest of my day flows so much more smoothly than it would if I woke up and went through the motions, reacting to everything that happens around me!  Jim Rohn said it perfectly:

“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.”

Personally, I prefer to be in charge!

So, whether you’re lucky enough to be able to spare an hour for a daily morning routine or just 5 or 10 minutes, it’s well worth doing!

What can you include in your morning routine? Well, it really is down to you and your unique life. If you use my Born to Flourish planner-journal, you’ll have a page dedicated to crafting your very own morning routine, where you can list down the things you will do to start your day right 😊

If you’re stuck for ideas, here’s 5 things I always include in my own morning routine. Depending on how much time you have available and what’s important to you, you can pick and mix from these or make up your own!

1 | Meditation / Reflection / Gratitude

Whether its meditation, prayer or reflection, starting your day with this practice will help ground you and enable you to be more intentional and mindful. Even if it’s just for a minute or two, close your eyes and connect with your higher self. Be grateful for another day on earth, for all the things you have, no matter how small. Focus on all the positive things you have in your life – people, experiences, things. Remember that what you focus on expands, so choose to focus on the good, positive things in your life to attract more good, positive things in your life! This is a great time to visualise too. Visualise your day ahead, see yourself confidently achieving your goals, having a great day. I once read a book that recommended starting your day by thinking of ten things you’re grateful for and then seeking guidance for the day ahead. If this is the only thing you can manage as part of your morning routine, it will still make a huge difference to your day and your life!

2 | Journal

There’s something therapeutic and also powerful about putting your thoughts onto paper – whether it’s to clarify your thoughts, set your intentions for the day or simply offload all the clutter lurking in your mind to free up some space! Even if it’s just a sentence or two, depending on whether you’re much of a writer of not, write something down. Personally I prefer ‘proper’ writing over typing on a laptop or computer, simply because it feels more ‘real’ and it’s so much more effective actually writing your thoughts than bashing them out on a keyboard. Not to mention I lost a couple years’ worth of journalling when my laptop crashed a few years ago!

As you might know, through my love of journalling and planning, I created my own hybrid planner-journal, the Born to Flourish planner-journal, which has a page dedicated to each day and which contains prompts to help me set my intentions for my day ahead, tie those intentions to my bigger goals, explore my underlying thoughts and feelings and then, later in the day, reflect on whether I followed through with those intentions, any lessons I learned and how I might improve tomorrow. I have been using this planner-journal for years now and couldn’t live without it because it combines the practical planning and doing stuff along with the all important, but often overlooked, internal mindset stuff. If you want to find out more about my planner-journal, check it out here!

3 | Exercise

Probably not what everyone wants to be doing as soon as they get out of bed! But this is a great way to kick start your metabolism and your energy levels for the day ahead. I was never an exercise in the morning type of gal, and would do so in the evenings – usually when I was frazzled from my day – and to be fair it did still help me, but now that I exercise in the mornings, I feel so much better and it makes me feel really energised for the rest of my day (and also helps me get a good night’s sleep). It’s easy to think the other way round – I’m going to use up my energy exercising and be too tired to face my day! But no, quite the opposite 😊 Exercise energises you, gets the blood pumping, your mind mentally alert, which is a great start to your day!

Personally I like to go for a run, or at least a brisk power walk. And while many times I have had to really convince myself to head out the door, not once have I ever returned and thought ‘oh, I should never have done that.’ Instead, a few minutes into my run or walk, I’m thinking ‘I am so glad I did this!’ Sometimes my run or walk is an hour, sometimes it’s half an hour, and sometimes it’s just a brisk walk around the block. But this practice also has a knock on effect in terms of wanting to eat something healthy for breakfast rather than comfort food (yes I tend to gravitate towards muffins, croissants etc otherwise!). Running or walking may not be your thing. How about some cardio? If the weather’s bad or I simply don’t want to go outdoors, sometimes I’ll do a cardio workout at home for 10 or 15 minutes. Or you could do something gentler like yoga? Whatever it is for you, choose something to help your body and mind – MOVE into action!

4 | Have a healthy breakfast

Not exactly rocket science and you already know that you are what you eat and that you should eat a healthy breakfast to start your day right! Yet so many of us either eat a far from healthy, rushed breakfast on the move, or have no breakfast at all. What’s a healthy breakfast? I try to have a healthy smoothie every morning and because mine tend to be quite filling, with things like avocado and walnuts in it, it tends to keep me full all morning (which is a good thing for me, keeps me away from those muffins!)! Having a smoothie also helps me to put a wide variety of ingredients in my breakfast than I normally would have e.g. toast. Other times I’ll have granola with live yoghurt and berries, or I’ll have toast with avocado and egg, one of my faves, or something like oats with a bit of almond butter and chia seeds in it. I am always on a quest to eat healthier and don’t always do this, but I do tell myself that I will begin my day eating something healthy at the very least! This will usually set me up to make healthy eating choices as I go through my day, even if I do fall off the bandwagon some of the time! I tend to use the 80/20 rule of thumb and aim to be as healthy as possible at least 80% of the time!

5 | Do something different

I’ve read in a few different places that it’s a good idea to change up something you do habitually every day to sharpen your mind. A while back, I did a really good course provided by Jim Kwik (author of the book, ‘Limitless’) called Superbrain and he suggested doing things like brushing your teeth with the opposite hand you normally brush with – so if you normally hold your toothbrush and brush your teeth with your right hand, try doing this with your left hand! It means you’ll have to focus a lot more (which is what you want – a good brain workout!) to make sure you don’t get toothpaste all over your face! Or, if you always put on your right sock or shoe first, make a conscious effort to put on the left one first. This doesn’t take long at all, seconds of your time, and involves an activity you have to do anyway (so shouldn’t really take up any additional time) but is a great brain training exercise to start your day!

My morning routine is habitual now and making your morning routine a habit is exactly what you want to do. Yes, there are days that things don’t go according to plan, or I’m travelling and things are different, but for the most part, I will do the above things without even thinking about it. I do other things too, like reading, I’ll read at least a chapter or a few pages of a book with my breakfast if I’m alone or I’ll do some personal development like listen to a podcast or audiobook.

The key is to find things that will work for you personally and set you up for your day ahead.

If you don’t have a copy of my Born to Flourish planner-journal and would like to create your own morning routine or ritual, you can download (for free) the ‘Morning Ritual’ page I included in my planner-journal right here!

 

Do you have a morning routine? What does it consist of?

9 ways I’m improving my energy levels

9 ways I’m improving my energy levels

I’m all about flourishing both inside AND out and lately I’ve been making RAISING MY ENERGY LEVELS a key focus. I found that while in my mind I would be motivated and rearing to go and make my dreams happen, my body didn’t always follow suit! I would want to wake up at 6am and hit the ground running but my body wanted to stay in bed and snuggle under the cosy duvet. By mid-afternoon I would be flagging. My one cup of coffee a day would turn to two, then three. Insomnia would creep in. Followed by late starts and groggy mornings. Not a good direction to be heading in!

I realised that if I really wanted to FLOURISH, I needed the ENERGY to do so!

Do you ever feel like you’re lacking energy? I’m sure you do! And as I write this post, we’re heading towards the end of winter in England. The first signs of spring are starting to appear and I’m ready to come out of hibernation, hopefully filled with energy and vitality!

So I made the decision to consciously make changes to improve my energy levels.

I’m all for simple and uncomplicated. Once something becomes too complex, I simply don’t do it. What sort of small changes could I make to increase my energy levels?

Well, as with most things, the answers are pretty obvious! There were three key areas I knew I needed to work on if I wanted to have more energy and those three key areas are sleep, diet and exercise.

Not exactly breaking news eh?!

And yet these three key areas are so ultra important to maintaining optimal health and wellbeing. So I decided to look at these 3 core areas and identify just 3 things in each that I could do to raise my energy levels. That’s a total of NINE things I could immediately start implementing to move the needle in the right direction. Here’s what I came up with!

Sleep

This is first on my list for good reason! I tend to go through phases of insomnia and it’s not fun at all. All it takes is one sleepless night to throw me off track and have me dragging myself through the day. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people that can get away with 4 hours sleep every night and be bright and chirpy all day. I need my 7-8 hours of sleep every night to feel well rested the next day! And not just sleep, but good quality sleep. As I said, the answers are usually glaringly obvious, I knew what mistakes I was making and what I needed to do to fix them. The three changes I decided to make with regards to getting better quality sleep every night were:

  1. go to sleep earlier and try to do this around the same time each night: many times I would go to bed well after midnight for no good reason (and then wonder why I can’t get out of bed the next morning!)
  2. no screens for at least two hours before bed: the light from the screens really does play havoc with getting a proper night’s sleep; I swapped my habit of looking at my phone before bed with reading a book instead
  3. ensure my bedroom was as dark as possible at night: and this really was an easy fix – the curtains we had before let the light from outside in, so especially in summer, we’d have light flooding in at an unearthly hour each morning and until very late into the night – I simply replaced them with blacked out curtains – problem solved!

All easy fixes, right? It’s just a matter of disciplining yourself to make the changes you know will benefit you. These seemingly small changes have already started having a positive effect on my sleep quality. Sure, I fall off the bandwagon sometimes and stay up late, or go on my phone but I always make a concerted effort to get back on track again.

Next up:

Diet

Again, the endless sea of information out there on the gazillion diets we should be trying is just too much for me… I boiled it down to my need to simply eat what’s good for me and to listen to my body. I know that eating a bowl of oats porridge is a better choice that a sugary donut for breakfast. I know that six cups of coffee a day is not going to do me any favours. I know that heaping my plate with carbs every day is a bad idea. I just needed to make conscious decisions about my eating, make healthy choices as much as possible. I have actually never counted calories in my life, even that’s too complex for me, ha! The three changes I decided to make in relation to my diet were:

  1. reduce my portions of food at dinner time: I have always had a very bad habit of heaping ridiculous amounts of carbs on my plate – and then being full halfway through but not want to waste the rest, so end up finishing it!
  2. focus on gut health: I’m taking baby steps here but am currently incorporating fermented foods into my diet, taking probiotic supplements etc. Getting your gut into good shape can have a tremendously positive effect on your life – watch this space for how I get on!
  3. eat as much whole food (and as little processed food) as possible: for example, lunch would almost always be a sandwich (carbs again arghh!), now I make a point to instead have a salad with plenty of good things in it, or a fresh soup.

As I consciously think about what I am going to fuel my body with instead of stuffing whatever is convenient into my mouth, I find that most of what I used to do was simply habit, doing things on autopilot. By consciously putting a decent sized portion of food on my plate at dinner time, I find I feel completely satiated afterwards. I actually like fermented foods but never really bought them simply because it’s not something I was in the habit of doing (except sauerkraut which I grew up eating). And then I do like whole healthy foods, salads etc but always used to gravitate towards carbs first because they were the quick, easy and let’s admit it, often the tasty option!

So, this journey I’m on to a healthier, more energetic me is more about conditioning my mind to think in healthier, more energetic ways, and align my actions with those thoughts. 

And lastly,

Exercise

And this too, is a biggie. If you want to be more energetic, you’ve simply got to MOVE your body more! Over the last year or two, my exercise routine slowly evaporated and it’s therefore no wonder my energy levels dropped. I like to run outside but I’m a ‘warm weather runner’ as they say, which isn’t the best option when you live in England! With winter coming to end though, I’ll be back running outside, for at least thirty minutes every day. Ok, at least three times a week for a start! In the area of exercise, my three chosen changes were:

  1. to incorporate daily stretching e.g. yoga: I get a lot of tension in my body and stretching is key to loosening those tight muscles
  2. to aim for thirty minutes of high intensity exercise every day: whether that’s a power walk or run outside, or a workout at home or in the gym
  3. make daily meditation a habit: not sure if this counts as exercise (!) but as I’d like to incorporate breathing exercises into it, maybe it does! Both work wonders

So, that’s NINE things I’ve started doing in those three key areas to get my energy levels up again. The great thing is that these three key areas are like three giant puzzle pieces that fit together to form a whole. Ramping up my exercise will help me get good quality sleep. It will also encourage me to make healthy food choices. And getting good quality sleep will give me the energy to want to exercise!

See how it all fits together?

I’ll be posting updates on how I’m doing in my quest for more energy, so stay tuned!

Do you have any top tips for raising your energy levels?