A cancer survivor shares a journaling method that he has found to be beneficial to his mental health.
Managing through the darker emotions like fear, uncertainty, isolation and pain are all part of the daily grind with fighting cancer. It’s just so easy to get caught up in all the stress, which is why maintaining good mental health has always been a top priority of mine. And recently I came across a routine that I’ve found super helpful for that exact purpose.
I was listening to Brian Koppelman, screenwriter of “Rounders” and creator of “Billions,” interview Julia Cameron on his podcast about her book, “The Artist’s Way,”and they kept raving about a concept called Morning Pages. Their enthusiasm was so contagious that I bought the book to learn more and immediately loved it.
It’s a simple concept. Before you start your day, grab an 8.5” x 11” notebook and churn out three pages of stream of consciousness thought. Throw all your dreams and fears on there. Let all the bitching and moaning out on the page. As Cameron describes, you can even start out as mindlessly as “I’m tired and really don’t feel like doing this crap.” Eventually your brain moves on to a new tangent and I’ve definitely noticed my mood and mental clarity both improve by the end.
Cameron also encourages you to write as self-critically as needed. She describes how we all have a “censor voice”, basically that negative voice in our head that knows exactly where we’re vulnerable and how to hurt us, and she explains that purging those toxic thoughts on the page will free your mind up afterwards.
While you’re writing, don’t stop or overthink. I don’t even read the pages afterwards. It’s a mental cleanse. It’s a refocus. It’s also a great way to work through whatever questions or problems are on your mind. What I find crazy is how much ground I cover each morning. I’m flying through topics and by the end barely remember what I was tapping into back on the first page. It’s led to all kinds of new ideas and inspiration. And I do feel much more grounded afterwards.
Fighting cancer requires rising to the challenge every day, one day at a time. Might as well set the right tone each morning. Give Morning Pages a shot and let me know what you think!
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