The Five Minute Journal + Other February Self Care List Essentials

Sweater by Ganni, gold scissors from Dabney Lee Shelter Island

Like many of you, I have high hopes that 2018 will be my best year yet, or at a minimum (setting the bar really low) not any worse than 2017 and 2016. When I touched down in NYC at 19 degrees on January 1st, after a week of blazing sunshine on the beach in Florida, I knew I had to get my self care list in place pronto in order to even make it through first quarter.

I realized that I begin every year with the idea of a bright future, only to be let down by the reality of waking up each day in a City that is very much alive, but also unpredictable and sometimes downright undesirable in the winter months.  After years of being told by every therapist and spiritual source I know that a regular practice of meditation and journaling would re-program my emotional brain and keep me motivated, I finally decided to stop mocking the idea of real self care (e.g. a weekly manicure is not self care) and surrender. I thought I’d share my experience and provide some resources that are helping me survive this winter (and hopefully my best-year-yet-to-be ).

On January 1, 2018 I began a ritual of 10 minutes of meditation and 10 minutes of writing in a journal each day.  I have never felt so accomplished or committed to myself.  I have had bouts of practicing these self care basics in the mornings, but in previous years if I got an urgent email in the morning, found myself running late or if there was a sale on Net-a-Porter, I would skip it and just launch my day.  This year I am allowing myself to pause, even in the middle of my day if I have to, and meditate and write regardless of timing and/or whether I do these two things in sequence. No more excuses.

For meditation, I use the Calm app or most recently I have been doing meditations guided by Tara Brach.  Apps like Calm and Headspace are modern and casual, whereas Tara Brach is gentle, but more stereotypical and therapeutic in nature. I feel noticeably clearer when Tara chimes the bell at the end, even though I’ve spent most of my meditation time thinking about what’s on my to-do list for the day or what new bag I want to buy. I can’t control how my mind works, but at least I tried.

As for journaling, I use notebooks by Appointed because I love the linen-like covers. I buy them from this amazing store called Goods for the Study on 8th Street. The Five Minute Journal is a new book that I bought after seeing it on Instagram. If you are like me and you prefer a lot of structure and everything branded you will like the tasteful design and cut-to-the-chase method of this journal. It’s not really a journal in the free-form sense, but rather a daily practice that focuses on gratitude and affirmations.  There is a guide at the beginning of The Five Minute Journal that describes how the prescribed format enables us to focus on the positive and manifest the things we want in life.  For $22 The Five Minute Journal saves time (i.e. 5 minutes) but not money. The book encourages journaling first thing in the morning and right before bed. The Five Minute Journal encourages you to reward yourself if you can stick to the first thing/last thing timing for at least 5 days straight – I’ve chosen to treat myself to a week of prepared meals by Sakara.

My fear of the flu has reached a fever pitch.  The Five Minute Journal has helped me express my gratitude for my health.  My fear of getting sick during winter months often gets in the way of my being productive throughout the day, but I have noticed that I have chilled out (literally) – I’m ready to accept whatever happens and am more aware of when the anxiety in my head is getting the best of me.

In addition, I am doing everything I can to keep my immune system in order – I’m not that cavalier about my health! I ingest so many things including apple cider vinegar every morning and lots of lemon, ginger, cayenne and honey, but I think the most effective immune system builder I take is something called Peak Immune. It could be snake oil for all I know (it’s actually made from mushrooms), but it’s all natural and keeps me sane and energized through flu season.  It’s $35-50 a bottle depending on where you get it.  I’ve been using it for the past three winters and so far so good.

I would love to know what is on your self care list. Comment below or drop me a line. Namaste.




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