Morning Pages for PTSD & C-PTSD
In the quest for mental well-being, there are a number of various techniques and practices. We’ve written before how writing and journalling can be a therapeutic support for those facing challenges with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Complex PTSD (C-PTSD). Whether you’re scribbling in a personal diary, capturing fleeting thoughts on bits of paper, or even venturing into the world of novel-writing, wielding a pen has proven to be a dynamic force for therapeutic expression.
Diving into the world of writing and journaling might seem like a mountain to climb, especially for those dealing with the intricate symptoms of PTSD and C-PTSD, however the transformative practice of ‘Morning Pages’ may be able to help. Devised by Julia Cameron, Morning Pages invite you to embark on a daily, empowering journey of flowing stream-of-consciousness journalling, designed to declutter your mind, fuel creativity, and nurture your overall mental well-being. It’s not just a practice; it’s an empowering step toward understanding, healing, and embracing the fullness of your unique story.
What Are Morning Pages?
Morning Pages involve writing three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness thoughts every morning. It’s not about creating a literary masterpiece but rather a tool for personal exploration and expression. This article is a closer look at why this practice has become a game-changer for many, especially those dealing with mental health issues like PTSD and C-PTSD.
How Morning Pages Can Support people with PTSD and C-PTSD
Clearing the Mental Clutter:
- Morning Pages act as a “brain dump,” allowing people to unload the thoughts swirling in their minds without fear of judgment, contributing to emotional well-being.
- Especially beneficial for those dealing with PTSD or C-PTSD, it provides a safe space to release overwhelming emotions and experiences.
Silencing the Inner Critic:
- The stream-of-consciousness nature of Morning Pages bypasses the internal editor, providing a judgment-free zone.
- For people with PTSD or C-PTSD, this can be transformative in quieting the critical inner voice often exacerbated by trauma.
- Morning Pages are a gateway to tapping into one’s creative reservoir, helping people connect with ideas hidden in the busyness of life.
- Creative expression can be a powerful outlet for processing trauma and fostering healing.
Enhancing Emotional Processing:
- Writing about emotions, whether positive or challenging, allows for a deeper understanding and processing of these feelings.
- Particularly beneficial for people navigating the complex emotional landscape of PTSD and C-PTSD.
- Through Morning Pages, you can explore and identify triggers associated with distressing reactions in PTSD or C-PTSD.
- Writing about daily experiences helps reveal patterns, empowering better understanding and management of triggers.
Mindfulness and Grounding:
- Morning Pages incorporate mindfulness and grounding, fostering a habit of staying anchored in reality.
- This practice enhances a sense of control and stability, particularly beneficial for managing PTSD and C-PTSD symptoms.
- Morning Pages create a space for self-compassion, vital for people dealing with feelings of shame, guilt or self-blame in PTSD or C-PTSD.
- Through writing letters to oneself, expressing self-love, and challenging negative perceptions, people can foster a compassionate inner dialogue.
Improving Sleep Quality:
- Nightmares and sleep disturbances common in PTSD and C-PTSD can be addressed through Morning Pages.
- Writing about dreams, fears, or sleep-related anxieties provides a platform for processing, contributing to a calmer bedtime mindset.
- Morning Pages serve as a gateway to tap into creative reservoirs, helping people to connect with ideas amidst life’s busyness.
- Creative expression can be a powerful outlet for processing trauma, fostering healing and self-discovery.
How to Do Morning Pages: A Simple Guide
- Choose a Dedicated Time: Ideally, start your Morning Pages as soon as you wake up when the mind is fresh. Allocate about 30 minutes for the practice if you can. Writing before external influences enter your mind allows for a genuine and unburdened expression.
- Get comfortable: Creating a comfortable environment makes diving into morning pages a breeze. You might even find yourself eagerly anticipating this special time of day. Seek out a cosy corner in your home, brew a comforting cup of coffee, grab a pen that feels just right in your hand, and open up an inviting journal.
- Write Longhand and imperfectly: Use pen and paper to slow down the process, fostering a deeper connection with your thoughts. Resist the urge to type; the beauty is in the deliberate pace. Toss those writing rules out the window! Morning pages aren’t about creating high art or aiming for a bestseller. They’re a canvas for your raw emotions and genuine thoughts. And forget about conforming to proper style and grammar—just let the words flow.
- Avoid Distractions: Create a quiet, comfortable space, away from potential distractions like phones and computers. Ambient music can enhance the experience, but avoid content that might influence your thoughts.
- Be Authentic: Write without censorship; let your thoughts flow authentically. This is for you, and you alone. This authenticity is particularly valuable for people with PTSD or C-PTSD, providing an unfiltered outlet for expression.
- Don’t share it: Keep your journal sacred—no exceptions. Resist the urge to flip through its pages, at least not for a couple of months. Honesty is the magic ingredient, and fear of someone reading it can stifle that. If privacy is a concern, safeguard your journal from prying eyes, or consider shredding your pages after each session. Your journal, your rules—do whatever it takes to maintain your privacy.
“There might be days that you don’t feel like writing. Write anyway. Write down your first thoughts. You might forget to do it in the morning. Do it in the afternoon instead, or right before bed. You might start writing and feel like you can’t fill out three pages, it’s too hard. But fill all three anyway.
The magic comes from pushing yourself to complete your pages. It doesn’t matter what you write, either. There is no wrong way to fill your pages. You could write down what dreams you had the night before, what you are currently worried about, the cat’s litter box habits, the chores you don’t want to do, the way your coffee tastes, your errands, a grocery list, a to do list, affirmations… Write whatever pops into your head.
Don’t give in. Write, and the truth will fall out of your pen.” says Shelby of Little Coffee Fox
What should I write?
The key thing with Morning Pages is there is no right or wrong way to do it. Feel free to employ some ideas as journaling prompts if you really need them, but avoid fixating on a single theme, such as a gratitude journal. Leverage journal prompts such as the ones below on days when your words could use a bit of encouragement:
Reflection on Progress:
- What progress have I made in managing my PTSD or C-PTSD symptoms?
- How have my coping mechanisms evolved recently?
- List three things you’re grateful for today, no matter how small.
- How has gratitude played a role in your healing journey?
- Write a letter to yourself showing compassion for any challenges faced recently.
- What positive affirmations can you remind yourself of today?
- Describe a moment of mindfulness you experienced recently.
- How can you bring mindfulness into your day today?
Exploration of Triggers:
- Explore any triggers that surfaced recently. How did you cope with them?
- Are there patterns or trends in your triggers that you’ve noticed?
Future Self Visualisation:
- Envision your ideal future self. How does this version of you cope with stress?
- What steps can you take today to align with that future self?
- Recall a moment where you felt empowered in dealing with PTSD or C-PTSD.
- How can you harness that strength moving forward?
- Reflect on any situations where you need to set or reinforce boundaries.
- How can you communicate your needs effectively?
Safe Space Visualisation:
- Imagine a safe and calming place. Describe it in detail.
- How can you create elements of this safe space in your daily life?
Support Network Acknowledgment:
- List individuals or resources in your support network.
- How can you reach out to or connect with someone for support today?
Remember, morning pages are a personal and judgment-free space, allowing you to explore your thoughts and feelings at your own pace. Adjust these prompts as needed to suit your comfort and needs.
When to Do Morning Pages
- First Thing in the Morning:
- Morning Pages are most effective when done as part of your morning routine.
- Writing before external influences enter your mind allows for a genuine and unburdened expression.
- Daily Commitment:
- Cultivate a daily ritual by committing to writing Morning Pages every day.
- Consistency is key to reaping the full benefits.
A Journey to Self-Discovery
Incorporating Morning Pages into your daily routine is not just a writing exercise; it’s a journey of self-discovery and healing. For people with PTSD or
C-PTSD, this practice offers a tangible and accessible tool to navigate the complex terrain of trauma and it’s effects.
There’s no right or wrong way to do Morning Pages.
Embrace the simplicity of the process, and let the pages become a mirror reflecting your thoughts, emotions, and, ultimately, your path to healing. If you can, cultivate a daily ritual by committing to writing Morning Pages every day as consistency is key to reaping the full benefits.
Morning Pages can provide transformative power of self-expression and self-reflection. So, grab that pen, open that notebook, and begin your empowering journey toward mental well-being.
If you’d like to start Morning Pages, but not sure where to begin, you can purchase our Ink and Insights Toolkit here.
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