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Are you making any resolutions this year? Maybe you want to take better care of yourself or dedicate more time to the things you love.

We here at The Mighty want to help you achieve your goals in 2017, and what better way to do that than to promote self-care? Personally, I’m a big fan of self-improvement. Living with a chronic illness, I’m always looking for ways to feel better – and there is no shortage of advice as to how I can do that on the internet. But the problem with most articles that tell you how to be healthier (and trust me, I know this from years of experience creating and editing lifestyle content) is that it’s geared towards people who are already pretty healthy.

Fitness challenges never consider if you’re having a flare, or are feeling depressed and can’t get out of bed. Articles that say “Do this for better health,” don’t consider those of us who, in the midst of managing a job, family and a condition, struggle with adherence. And, if you’re anything like me, if you can’t do a 30-day challenge perfectly, you tend to beat yourself up a bit.

So we are making 2017 the year of self-care. Join us every month as part of our “My Mighty Month” series for 30-day challenges designed to promote self-care. To start the year off, we’re challenging you to keep a journal for the next 30 days.

“Journaling is really one of the practices I recommend the most to all of my therapy clients, I think it’s a tremendous way to deepen personal work,” Annie Wright, MFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist practicing in the San Francisco Bay area, told The Mighty. “It’s inexpensive, it’s quick to access anywhere and it can deepen your own self-awareness and help you process and metabolism issues in your life like no other medium can.”

According to Wright, the benefits of journaling include being able to identify and address challenges, a deepened sense of self and a therapeutic way to promote self-care. Studies have also shown that journaling can help manage anxiety and depression and reduce stress as well as benefit your overall physical health.

And it’s not just therapists who believe in the power of journaling. Dr. Eugene Gamble, a periodontal surgeon and member of the U.K. Society for Behavioural Medicine, told The Mighty he often recommends behavioral modifications, including journaling, to his patients before recommending surgery. “The benefits [of journaling] are quite clear – goal achievement, improved emotional intelligence, mindfulness, improved relationships and communication skills, self control, etc.,” he said.

And there is no right or wrong way to journal. “I think the process of writing itself can be therapeutic no matter really what the content is that you are writing about… You don’t have to be writing about your day, you don’t have to be deeply reflecting on a specific issue in order for the process itself to be therapeutic,” Wright said.

If you don’t want to write about yourself, Wright recommends reflecting on current events or a character in a movie or a book.“Even when we are putting our attention on other focuses in our lives, we can still be doing our own personal work, not matter what the content is we’re exploring,” she added.

But what about time? Maybe you’re thinking, “This sounds nice, but I don’t have time to write every day.” We hear you! You don’t have to write every day to be successful when it comes to journaling, nor do you have to dedicate a significant amount of time. “One person might experience a ton of benefit from sitting down and [journaling] one time, if they’ve never done it before. Others, it might take them a little way before they truly feel a sense of deepening awareness or even a sense of peace after they do it,” Wright said. “It’s completely unique to the individual, but to anyone who says ‘I don’t have time,’ or ‘I’m worried about doing it imperfectly or inconsistently.’ I would say ‘That’s fine.’ We’re aiming for progress here, not perfection, and the process of journaling itself provides such great information for you.”

We hope you’ll join us and make 2017 the year of self-care. Let’s make a resolution to take care of ourselves, that includes going easy on ourselves when we miss a day or aren’t happy with the words we’ve written. You deserve this, and we’re here to help. Make January a Mighty Month, and take our 30-day challenge. We’ll help you along the way with writing prompts and reminders – all you need to do to do is write.

Want to make January a Mighty Month? Join us on Facebook at My Mighty Month, and don’t forget to tag any social media posts with #MyMightyMonth. You can also sign up for our weekly email, (select “Mighty Monthly Challenges” from the newsletter options), which includes weekly digital journals filled with writing prompts as well as tips and reminders designed to keep you motivated. Want to journal on your own without any prompts? That works too. Simply download our monthly habit tracker to keep track of your progress.

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: December 29, 2016
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