Creative Expression: A Journey to Greater Gratitude with Journaling & Ways to Incorporate Practices with Children

I was recently introduced to Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages exercise, as well as her call to get creative daily.  Research shows that exercising creativity has a positive impact on self-care, self-image, and positive mindset.  As a mom I look for self-care practices that I can easily incorporate throughout my day (5-10-minute increments or less).  Instilling a sense of radical self-care has become a personal goal of mine after realizing that I need to feel good to be a present parent.  To quote an amazing interview on The Soul Feed Podcast (one of my favorites!) “There’s so much power and momentum in loving yourself in little moments! It’s not about a spa day every six months.  It’s about radical self-care every day.  Morning pages have become a really valuable tool for me personally, so I wanted to take the time to share.  Since my other passion is also encouraging positive self-talk and flexible mindset in children, I also wanted to share some ways to connect with children to help them practice gratitude and continuous self-care practices as well.  I think especially now the next generation can be taught subtly and directly that being kind to yourself and treating yourself like a friend, enables you to be kind to others and causes a ripple effect of a culture of kindness.

How I lay out my Morning Pages:

I complete these pages right when I wake up, but sometimes I need to be flexible and if my daughter wakes up first, I get her situated, and then take the 5 minutes to complete my pages while she plays.  Especially in self-care do what works for you.  You’re an individual and what works for you may not work for someone else or vice versa.

I free write about dreams, my thoughts right when I woke up, or thoughts I’m having in the moment for about 2-3 minutes or more if I feel like it.  I don’t pay attention to if the thoughts are silly, negative, absurd, unrealistic, etc.  They’re all worth putting on the page and clearing out of my mind.  I leave my pages in my journal, but you can shred them if you want.  It’s really up to you!

I then write 10 things I am grateful for from the day before.  My husband was funny because he said that ten was A LOT.  But these aren’t hard to come up with, because they’re not BIG things.  Sometimes I’m thankful for a breeze, or picking up my favorite lunch, or playing a game where my daughter laughed exceptionally hard.

I choose one way I plan on being creative that day.  Again, I don’t go BIG.  It could be cooking dinner.  Cooking is creative!  Adding your own spices, maybe making a simple salad dressing.  Writing for the blog, thinking of lessons for clients, etc.  If you like to color do that!  Planting is creative or going out into your garden and making a bouquet.  Simple self-care.

That’s it.  It takes me on average 5-8 minutes and changes I’ve noticed for myself have included more energy throughout the day, more appreciation in the moment throughout the day, and a greater ability to remain calm and work through problems!

How Can You Encourage Your Children?

A Twist on a Sticker Chart: Instead of using sticker charts to reward behaviors use it as a way to have your child practice gratitude.  At night or after dinner have them place stickers in a journal, paper, or poster, and with each sticker name something that made them “happy or grateful” that day.  You can write down what they say next to the sticker if you want!  It may help you also notice the things that your child is noticing!

If you have older children write down things you are grateful for that include them and place it on their pillow before bed or hang it on the mirror for them to see in the morning.  Even point out instances where they were resilient and worked through a problem.  Journal in front of them and talk openly throughout the day about things you are grateful for.

Self-Care is personal. Make it your own.  Your happiness is the greatest gift you can give to those you love.