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Journaling Toward Happiness
Relieving Stress With a Pen
Journaling Toward Happiness
As leaders, making decisions, having the pressure of ensuring your team is at its best, and caring for individuals is stressful. We need to take care of ourselves as well. When I am my best self, I have found it is when I am actively writing. Not only when I am writing a blog post or professionally, however, when I take the time to put pen to paper and journal.
Instead of reaching for your phone, TV remote control, or snack, grab a pen and a notebook when you need a break. According to Harvard Medical School, using a journal can lessen anxiety and stress by writing about difficult experiences.
Writing helps you think, organize your thoughts, and accomplish essential tasks. Keeping a journal helps keep you accountable. When you write down your goals and aspirations, your journal is a way of keeping track of your progress. Take the time to look back at your journal entries, celebrate your achievements, and revisit areas that need attention. In addition to accountability, here are some other benefits of journaling regularly:
Gives you immortality
Allows introspection and reflection
Boosts your mood
Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression
Journaling is a great habit and a self-care activity that can be incorporated into your daily routine. But you may be asking yourself, "What exactly is journaling, and why should I try it?" Let's provide you with helpful information and tips to get the most out of journaling.
Here are some ideas to get you started. You may write about:
Past experiences that you are still trying to understand
Goals you want to achieve
Expectations for yourself and others
Worries and fears that repeat in your life
Questions about the past, present, or future
Interests you would like to explore
Difficult decisions you are thinking about
Everything you are grateful for
If you can't think about anything, write about that. Keep the pen moving, and you will be surprised by what shows up on the paper.
How to get started
Now that we have broken the ice on why it is good for you to write, you want to decide where to keep your thoughts. I like to use paper and pen. There is something cathartic about how the ink takes to the paper for me. It is also one of the ways I break away from the screen (As I type these words into my computer).
If you do not like to use pen and paper, that is okay. Journaling looks quite different from what it once was. The true beauty of journaling: You can customize it to suit your daily life and needs.
The options are limitless with some journals such as the Rocketbook, you can even send digital copies of your writing to your computer. reMarkable is a digital paper tablet that claims to feel like paper on a digital platform (I have not used it, just watched the Youtube video). If you prefer a digital medium and do not want to buy a device, Evernote (my favorite), Notepad, WordPress (www.toddtdevoe.com), or a simple word processor like Word or Google Docs are great places to start if a paper journal isn't your thing.
A Great Habit To Have
Starting a new habit is hard, and the old idea of the "New Year, New You" may sound silly, but why not try. I have used the idea of the 5-minute journal for a few years now, and I write as my coffee is brewing, a morning routine, and when I close my day. It gives me time to reflect on how I am doing with my goals and my headspace.
If that does not work for you, I get it. Find the time of day and space that works. Try other spaces in your home or office. Maybe it is at lunch, on the train ride into work, as you are in the kid's pick-up line at school. Switching up your surroundings can spark creativity, engage your senses, and give you different inspirations.
Just Keep Swimming!
Okay, so Dory was not talking about writing, and Nike may sue me if I said, Just do it; however, just write!
Inside my head is a very busy place. I have lots of thoughts going on, and sometimes when I sit down, they vanish. I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and then I just write the first thing that pops into my mind. You need to let your stream of thought flow. Writers call this the stream of consciousnesses technique. I learned this by watching a MastersClass (Yes, I love to learn).
At the end of your day, countless thoughts are running through your mind, often simultaneously. Using this writing technique is a great way to just clear your mind.
Stream of consciousness writing is simply writing whatever comes to your mind. There are no specific rules for this; just take pen to paper and write down any and all thoughts in your mind. The idea is to not force the process. Often time, this style of journaling brings to the surface a lot of thoughts buried within your subconscious. This is not only healing but also helps you to gain insights on things you may not have even known you needed.
The art of the journal is not in the product that you produce. In fact, most of my journal writing never is seen by anyone but me. The art of the journal is that it allows you to be free to explore who you are and where you want to go. The greatest minds in the world used journals. Give it a try.