'Journaling Isn’t Just For The Spiritually Inclined; Here’s How To Get Started ' - Women's Health

‘Journaling Isn’t Just For The Spiritually Inclined; Here’s How To Get Started ‘

There are real benefits to writing therapy. - by Sarah Davidson, Brand Ambassador for Soulara

by | Sep 30, 2021

Instagram/@spoonful_of_sarah

I must admit there was a time in my life when journaling fell firmly into the “woo-woo” bucket in my mind, along with sage burning, crystal healing and other speculative activities reserved for those far more enlightened and open-minded than me.

I also admit, however, that I later took a deep dive into that woo-woo bucket and emerged singing the praises of said activities for the depth and development they brought into my life.

For the sceptics among us, science has done a lot of catching up of late and there’s now so much empirical support for the benefits of things like writing therapy and meditation for managing emotions, stress and even symptoms of things like anxiety or depression (so they barely even make the woo-woo cut these days).

For “corporate Sarah” who conceived of wellness as eating broccoli and going to spin class at 5am before a 20-hour day at work (and who inevitably suffered a gigantic physical and emotional breakdown as a result), it was putting pen to paper that turned that breakdown into a breakthrough and started the journey of “seizing the yay”. 

Journaling regularly has become such a crucial part of my wellbeing regime – like a valuable tool in my toolkit that I whip out whenever I feel the need. The best part is that there’s no right or wrong way to write in a journal – it’s the mental version of any physical exercise you do in that we all find different things enjoyable or more effective and you just find what works best for you.

So, while it can seem a bit overwhelming or intimidating the first time you sit down to a blank page for some quiet time with your thoughts, all you really need to do is start writing and BAM, you’re journaling. There are so many reasons why I think everyone should have a journal on hand, but a few things I love most are:

  • It’s like emptying the trash but for your brain – sometimes all you’re doing is taking a knotty web of thoughts out of your brain, putting them on paper to unscramble them with the clarity of distance, then putting them all back in neatly. Once something is written down outside of your brain (hence, “brain dump”), you don’t have to hold onto it so tightly inside your brain, so it frees up space for other things at a time when we’re already overloaded with information every moment of the day. If you get stuck starting, try starting with “a highlight of today was…” or “something I am grateful for today was…” and see what happens.
  • You don’t have to have an audience – nobody is watching nor does anyone else ever have to read what you’ve written, so you can explore how you feel or what you really think in a safe place. Sometimes, it’s only in writing something down that you even know you feel that way. I’ll be honest, the first time you sit down to journal, you can feel a bit silly playing “dear diary” like a teenage girl but remember there’s no audience so there can be no judgment or response from anyone unless and until you’re ready to share beyond its pages.
  • You can do it anywhere, anytime, for free – if you have a pen and paper, you can conduct a little writing therapy session for yourself anywhere. I ALWAYS carry a journal in my bag in case I have an idea or an emotion I want to capture.
  • You can change your style whenever you like – some days, all I write is three words being the three things I’m grateful for. The power of even small reflections of gratitude over your mood and outlook for the day always blows me away. Other days, I write full stream of consciousness accounts of my feelings or even blow-by-blow accounts of a particular event or day. It can be useful even to record symptoms of something you want to keep track of – particularly with anxiety, when it can be hard to remember how you actually felt in a particular moment and if you’ve improved or not. I’d go as far as to say drawing also counts!
  • It’s like a moving meditation – writing in a journal is fairly mutually exclusive with any other activity, so you have to stop multitasking and put down your devices while devoting time exclusively to your thoughts. Even if you don’t meditate or want to meditate, there are endless benefits to giving your brain a moment of single focus blocking out the noise of every other activity. In that sense, it’s like a vacation for your mind from the daily grind and the endless to-do list!

If you’re having writer’s block, I find it also helps to set yourself up comfortably and build some other wellbeing rituals around journaling time. I’ll move away from my working area and sometimes light a candle or brew a fresh pot of tea to get in the mood.

I also often journal after meal time when I’m feeling most nourished and happy, and have given my brain a little time to settle before I start. As someone leading quite a busy schedule these meals are often pre-prepared thanks to the plant-based saviours at Soulara, who also happen to have built a platform that revolves around gratitude and mindfulness too. Fuelling yourself, body and mind, is so crucial for your overall well being and satisfaction in life.

Sometimes, giving something like journaling a name makes it sound technical and intimidating but you’re really just writing things down on paper. It’s far simpler than we make it seem and I’d encourage you to just give it a go and see what happens! And there are some beautiful journals around to bring some luxury to the experience if you feel like treating yo-self (but I’ve journaled on a serviette before so, again, there’s really no excuse to give it a go). So, get writing and let me know how you go…

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8 Of The Best Exercise Shorts That Will Power You Through A Summer Of Movement

It’s official: Shorts Season is officially here. While lockdown has seen many of us realise that activewear is less something to be worn for a workout and more a uniform we choose to do any and all daily activities in, when the warmer temperatures roll around, that favourite pair of sweatpants and leggings sometimes don’t cut it. Sure, they might be a staple in any wardrobe, but the Aussie sun doesn’t listen to reason, no matter how comfortable or cute it might be. And when it comes to summer, working out in leggings can feel like being trapped in a sauna, the sweat pooling at your ankles and around the waistband – as well as those other areas we won’t mention here. 

But as we transition from leggings to shorts, it becomes clear pretty quickly that not all shorts are created equal, and certainly not all shorts are fit for a workout. Take it from us at Women’s Health HQ, we’ve been there, tried it and lived to see the consequences. From the shorts that look cute but ride up to show your undies on the run, to those that feel like being strapped into a harness that’s digging into your hip bones. Then there are the fabrics that can cause chafing – a big no – and those that basically shine a spotlight on any area you might be sweating. 

Thankfully, a number of brands are here to cater to your exercise needs with innovative materials, fabrics and sustainable options to see you through a summer of movement. Regardless of your workout preferences or daily activity, we’ve selected the best shorts that will ensure you feel good in your body, shorts that get you excited to embrace the day and attack it with energy, that make you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether it be walking, running, or socialising in the park. Here are our pick of the best bike shorts below. 

Nagnata

Uptown Biker, $240

What says summer more than a pop of orange and the sleek shape of these Nagnata biker shorts? With its mid-length and horizontal raised rib side detail, these are shorts you can wear both for a workout and out to meet the girls. Made in Australia with a technical knit fabrication, the double-layer jacquard provides gentle sculpting qualities for the body, making it an excellent choice for light to moderate fitness activities like yoga, pilates or barre. 

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New Balance

Q Speed Fuel Short, $70

We love the colour of these shorts from New Balance which are cut with a sleek, speedy look that also helps to elongate the legs. Featuring NB DRY moisture wicking fabric, these are the shorts you want for high intensity exercise or long runs, keeping you comfortable and dry. There’s also an interior brief for added comfort and a stash pocket to keep your essentials. 

All Access

Ultra High Rise Zip Front Biker Short, $78

Yes, the colour is amazing but the fit is equally sensational on these All Access shorts. For those who love a high-rise fit and wide waistband that holds you in at the waist, look no further. The sleek, shiny look offers mid-compression and the fabric is moisture-wicking, so you can stay comfortable even during your sweatiest workouts. 

Nike

Nike x Naomi Osaka Utility Short, $90

Few things are worse than heading out the door for a run and realising your shorts offer no pockets for those essentials you need. You’re left to hold your iPhone, keys, and anything else you might need in your sweaty palm. Thankfully, Naomi Osaka knows what we need when it comes to exercise shorts and these utility shorts from her collaboration with Nike offer all that and more with a relaxed fit and elastic waistband. 

Tracksmith

Session short Tights, $72

When it comes to bike shorts, you want to feel supported and held in but you also want to be able to breathe. These Tracksmith session short tights are exceptional in offering support while still ensuring comfort remains a priority. Forget about chafing, these shorts won’t ride up and down and the fabric offers more coverage and support against the body. 

Outdoor Voices

Relay 3” Short, $48

Who said summer shorts have to be boring? Outdoor Voices brings fashion-forward style and playfulness to their collections with fun prints and exciting colours. We love the relay 3” shorts for their ultralight, quick-drying fabric that also happens to be made from recycled polyester. But more importantly, we love the print and Poppy Swirl is as good as it gets. There’s even a hidden pocket for your valuables, too. 

Lululemon

Align High-Rise Short 6”, $69

If you’re familiar with the buttery-soft feel of Lululemon’s tights, you’ll want to get your hands on a pair of their shorts, too. Made with the same Nulu fabric that their tights are known for, these shorts feel weightless and super soft. They might be our go-to staple for any workout, but the feel is so second-skin that it’s hard to not wear them for every other activity, too. 

Spiritual Gangster

Seamless Biker Short, $112

These biker shorts from Spiritual Gangster move with you, thanks to a three-tiered compressive waistband that offers a flattering high waist that hugs you in all the right places, without proving constrictive. They offer medium compression but are built for all day comfort, and the colour is a true summer staple because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love tie-dye?