Writing to reach yourself

Do you journal?


Do you engage in reflective practice, even if you’re a business owner or organisational leader?


If not, you may want to consider doing so.


One thing I learned from being on holiday, is that I need to journal every day.


My introversion and high sensitivity mean that when left in the quiet, my internal world kicks off, and in that process, I become vulnerable to negative self-talk, making incorrect assumptions, and distancing myself from other people.


I can overemphasise negative expectations and outcomes, diminish the likelihood of positive outcomes and pretty much convince myself to just stop doing all that I am doing.





This is not good for a business owner!


Sound familiar?


Although I am present to this and can often coach myself through my internal dialogue it is simply not as effective (or easy) as writing the words out, having my eyes view the words independently of my mind hearing them, and then engaging my inner coach to critically review, process, order and interpret what is really going on.


The result is usually, clarity, motivation, and action steps even when the starting point is chaos. The wider impact is that I feel more in balance, my emotions better regulated, and my stress levels decrease.


What is interesting is that scientific research also points not only to the emotional benefits of journaling, but also the physiological benefits.


Emotionally, writing down our thoughts enables us to express emotions in a way that we may feel unable to verbally. The process of expressing emotions has a physiological benefit, and also gives us a sense of control over events that may have triggered negative emotions1


Research has also shown that the process of writing and releasing emotions through writing also improves blood markers and immune function, reduced pain, and medication use, and has even been linked to improvements in lung function for people with moderate asthma2.


So what is stopping you?


A simple way to start is just to start. To find a regular time every day to sit quietly and brain dump the stream of consciousness. This is the process I use every morning and it really helps me to feel more connected to my goals, purpose, direction and reduces emotional overwhelm.


Sometimes that even starts with ‘I’ve no idea what to write’ but the trick is just to keep writing without correcting grammar or spelling, for 3 pages or 15 minutes and then just put it down and get on with your day.


Alternatively if you need prompts, try these:

  • What is the solution I am seeking?

  • How have I overcome this challenge before?

  • What can I trust about myself in this moment?


References

1Ullrich, P. M., & Lutgendorf, S. K. (2002). Journaling about stressful events: Effects of cognitive processing and emotional expression. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 24(3), 244-250.

2Smith, H. E., Jones, C. J., Hankins, M., Field, A., Theadom, A., Bowskill, R., ... & Frew, A. J. (2015). The effects of expressive writing on lung function, quality of life, medication use, and symptoms in adults with asthma: a randomized controlled trial. Psychosomatic medicine, 77(4), 429-437.

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