How I Used Silk + Sonder Self-Care Journals to Reach My Goals
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Here's my review of Silk + Sonder, a subscription service that helps you reach your goals using beautiful self-care journals delivered to your home each month.
A self-care journal: My daily companion
Because I write and edit for my job, I rarely write on my own time. That all changed with the Covid-19 pandemic.
I felt lost, disoriented, and vulnerable. Finally, I realized I needed to express more of my thoughts on paper, and that led me to start a self-care journal. I decided to try the subscription service Silk + Sonder, which sends monthly self-care journals that help you plan meals, track your mood, and record your thoughts. (Here’s how to begin journaling.)
This journal has become a daily companion during the pandemic, and I consider it an investment in my mental wellness. (These are the best bullet journals on Amazon.)
Here’s how it helped me reach my goals, improve my mental health, and most importantly, helped me prioritize me.
Courtesy Lizette Borreli
What is Silk + Sonder?
Silk + Sonder was born when company founder and CEO Meha Agrawal felt trapped in an emotional rut three years ago.
Agrawal navigated her options to seek support, but “therapy felt intimidating, coaching was expensive, anxiety medications seemed risky, and meditation apps were quite frankly boring,” she says.
At its core, Silk + Sonder is rooted in the principles of positive psychology, according to Agrawal. Each month you get a self-care journal delivered in the mail. You can pay $20 per month or get an annual subscription ($180) and the next month’s Silk + Sonder planner arrives up to two weeks in advance so you can plan accordingly.
Silk + Sonder’s design is delicate, with a rose gold spiral binder. The 56 pages are filled with watercolor art, quotes from notable figures (like Ralph Waldo Emerson), and thought-provoking writing prompts. For January, the theme was ambition. (Learn how to carve out more “me time.”)
The theme, art, quotes, and prompts change on a monthly basis. “We try to add a seasonal touch to our themes,” says Agrawal. “Beyond that, it’s understanding what our members have liked in the past, where there might be an opportunity for challenge and personal growth, and what themes will inspire new layouts and activities that we can integrate into the journals.”
Courtesy Lizette Borreli
My favorite Silk + Sonder journal pages
Each journal has an index that guides you to the different pages—from a monthly overview to a monthly expense tracker. Most of the journal is in a week-to-week format that allows you to write your to-do list, major goals, and how you want to feel that week.
Plus, there’s an accompanying meal plan, mind/body health plan, shopping list, and a small box for you to reflect on great food, memories, and songs. There’s even an adult coloring page. It’s one of my favorite pages because after tracking expenses, I can destress with some adult coloring. It allows me to balance responsibility with creativity. (Find out how to build a self-care plan.)
I will admit that upon opening the journal for the first time, I felt overwhelmed with the idea of having to do all these writing prompts. But the beauty of it is that you don’t have to. You can fill it out at your own pace and there’s no right or wrong way to do it.
I choose to go in whatever order I like and skip exercises that don’t work for me, like the monthly expense tracker. (I used it once, but I don’t always want to do that in my downtime!)
However, I do have two main pages I like to consistently fill out with each new journal I get: The meal planning and intentions pages.
Meal planning page
I use the meal plan page religiously and rip it out to hang on my fridge. It holds me accountable and keeps me on track with my health and fitness plans. With 2020 being such a chaotic and unpredictable year, a little bit of stability and routine was much welcomed.
My other favorite section of the Silk + Sonder journals: the Intentions page. It contains six separate boxes, including spiritual health, personal life, physical health, key relationships, money management, and professional goals. It’s a nice way to get in touch with yourself and ask, “What are my intentions for this month?”
Prior to using these journals, I never set time aside to simply reflect on the different aspects of my life and list my intentions. I would keep mental notes, but writing them down and seeing them on the page makes them more concrete. Also, this shouldn’t feel like a chore. If it does, you may need to tweak your approach. “Setting intentions is not making a to-do list,” as the journal gently reminds me.
What’s Sonder Club?
There’s more to Silk + Sonder than just the physical journal and writing prompts. Subscribing members get access to Sonder Club, a private community Facebook page for “inspiration, support, and accountability,” Agrawal says. Here you can find fellow journal-keepers who share their tips on what products they use for the journal. They also share the unique ways they decorate and use the journal pages. (Learn how a gratitude journal can lead to happiness.)
I like using these Jiulyning crystal diamond pens ($8 for 3-pack) because they go well with the design of the journal, and they turn my journaling into a fun and exciting experience.
What are Sonder Circles?
In addition to Sonder Club, subscribers get free and priority access to Sonder Circles, which are journaling workshops with a group of people on Zoom. You take part in writing prompts and exercises and you can share your writing with other members in your Sonder Circle session (if you’re comfortable).
To keep the Sonder Circles intimate, it’s usually kept at around 15 people. Non-subscribers can also sign up to join a virtual Sonder Circle for a $10 fee.
My first Sonder Circle was a rewarding experience. In one of our writing exercises, we talked about how we could achieve our respective goals, from going on a vacation to becoming more spiritual.
It was refreshing and comforting to interact with a small group of people from different locations and backgrounds who felt similar to me.
What the science says about journaling
Journaling has been shown to be beneficial for mental health. A study of distressed young adults, published in The Arts in Psychotherapy, found that journaling for 15 minutes twice a week helped reduce anxiety, depression, and hostility. This was compared to those who were asked to write their plans for the day or to draw.
There is a growing need for better mental health and well-being in general. People across the world are experiencing heightened levels of stress, fear, and anxiety that comes with the uncertainty of the pandemic.
In July 2020, the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on health issues in the United States, conducted a survey to track the mental health outcomes of adults during the pandemic. Fifty-three percent of adults in the United States said the worry and stress brought on by the pandemic has had a negative effect on their mental health. By comparison, 32 percent of adults reported a worsening of mental health in March 2020.
Self-care products like this journal may help.
What I like about Silk + Sonder
As a Latinx, talking about mental wellness is something that’s slowly becoming less stigmatized in my community. Growing up, words like anxiety or depression were considered taboo at the dinner table.
It wasn’t until high school and early college that I began to discover self-care tools like yoga, journaling, and podcasts like the Daily Shine—a weekday meditation podcast. Slowly, I began to talk about using these resources with my mom, and she’s been extremely supportive. She even cheers me on over the phone when I tell her I’m doing yoga or meditating.
Like me, Agrawal experienced high expectations and family pressure to excel.
“Growing up South Asian American, there’s a lot of pressure placed to achieve and perform across all areas of my life,” Agrawal says. “I noticed that this seemed to be a common theme that existed across many other women of color communities. And what’s worse is that we don’t really talk about the importance of mental wellness in our homes.”
The bottom line
Journaling can teach us a lot about ourselves and how to prioritize our mental wellness. It’s an ongoing investment with long-term results.
If you’re like me, and hesitant to financially commit to something new, you can try the $20 monthly subscription with free shipping. For me, it’s something I like to treat myself to once in a while, especially if I know I’ll have a challenging month ahead with new projects both in my work and personal life.
After a difficult 2020, this makes an excellent self-care gift not just for myself, but for my friends looking for new ways to practice self-care.
It’s important to note that you should seek help if you need it. Journaling is not intended to replace any medications or therapy for mental illness. It’s important to talk with your doctor first about any mental health concerns you have. You and your doctor can work together to find the best way to deal with your symptoms or frustrations.
“Your personal growth journey does not have to be self-navigated—Silk + Sonder is living proof of that,” says Agrawal.
Next, here are happiness books that mental health experts trust.
- Meha Agrawal, founder and CEO of Silk and Sonder
- Kaiser Family Foundation: "KFF Health Tracking Poll – July 2020"
- Kaiser Family Foundation: "KFF Coronavirus Poll – March 2020"
- The Arts in Psychotherapy: "Emotional expression and psychological symptoms: A comparison of writing and drawing"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Coping with Stress"