Write yourself to a Healthier Lifestyle …
How can words help you towards a healthier lifestyle?
It is becoming increasingly accepted that the process of writing helps the individual organise problematic thoughts and experiences which might lead to an improvement in their mental health or emotional well-being.
Writing can aid the chaos in our lives by discovering meaning. For instance, remembering the past might help us understand how we feel. Through writing we could learn to recognise our courage and erect new lifestyle plans. Writing can give us a sense of release and help relieve internal stress.
‘That’s a bit heavy’, I can hear you say but most of it has been seen to be true. I’m not talking of writing essays, a white paper or a two thousand word report on Millennium consumer trends. I’m talking of jotting down a few words, in any form, at any time, when you feel like it.
Do you feel as though your mind is cluttered with things to do?
Do you find you wear yourself out thinking too much? Are you anxious about that unfinished project at work? Too befuddled to help the children with their homework? Are messages racing like a motorway police chase or spinning like fast wash-load in your brain?
To clear your mind so that you can concentrate on your main goals, interviews, exams, work related problems, relationships, here are some simple ideas to get you started:
Take a power nap, relaxing bath, glass of wine. Or all three if you are over eighteen. Then, take a pen or pencil and a blank page, a little black book, an old school jotter, stiff hard back, patterned folder or hand-decorated textured paged extravaganza ... any sort or writing space will do …
Find a favourite place ~ hopefully, this will be somewhere quiet.
Open your book
Write pretty fast and furiously …
Or just doodle if you want …
Write for five or ten minutes to begin with.
Let your thoughts flow onto the page ~ initial thoughts are usually spontaneous, even daring. Fill the page[s] with these thoughts. Repeat thoughts if necessary. Underline them. Circle them. Cross them out. It’s up to you.
Write non-stop about any topic or feeling that comes into your mind no matter how silly or serious. Let your mind wander ... Let your emotions or mood out onto the page.
Write in huge letters, small letters, be messy ... Scream from the tip of your pen.
If you can't think what to write, write just that!
What was the best / worst thing that happened today?
Write about happy incidents, fearful moments, smiles, tears and frustrations …
Write about an incident which included you, how you felt about it – remember you are moving things out of your mind into a neutral space.
Keep writing until your allotted time is up.
This is your Journal. A journal is about emotions whereas a diary is about dates and times. But Yes, write it everyday if you can. Day or night. Some people prefer to empty their minds before they go to bed insisting the action clears their mind for sleep. You don't have to share what you have written. Your writing may seem like ramblings. It doesn't matter. Now that all the surplus information milling around inside your head is on paper ~ you may feel more free. Sometimes our own writing inspires us. We might feel a sense of mastery, of liberation.
Later, you may want to go back and read some of your literary ramblings. They may make sense, they may not. You might want to note how many times you have repeated the same thing. My Journal was so full of the word `tired` and loaded with a sense of can’t cope-ness, that I immediately identified I had to do something about the day to day organisation of family, work and self which was clearly in chaos.
It’s often best to write for a few days before you read your handy-work back to yourself. Glancing over the pages will give you an idea of what is congesting your mind. Often people can recognise a pattern straightaway; topics repeating themselves; needs and wants creeping onto the page, loneliness. Let's hope you can use your journal to help you make changes, introduce new plans, enjoy settled sleep patterns, the ability to concentrate harder, feel emotionally fitter and enjoy a freedom from over-thinking.
Once we have recognised what we need to do, we need to set methods in place to change our habits. But how? We can organise ourselves through words, writing things down to make life plans easier to focus on, to follow and adhere to, especially when we are wanting to achieve a specific objective or aspire to a precise aim.
By the time you have invested a few days in you journal, given your mind a run on the jogging machine and loosened it all up, you can plan ahead.
Lifestyle Plan ~ Where do we start?
In order to create new energy and success in our lives, we need to design an image of what the next destination looks like. We need to make a map of how to get there. This may not be a long way. It may be joining a local gym, a darts club or singing group. It could be embarking on a journey or holiday alone, or applying for a job. The idea is to simplify all the problems around us in order to achieve our goal.
You could start by making a list about you. Write five words that describe you. Then with your other hand, write five more words that describe you [I know it’s difficult, writing with your opposite hand. It’s untidy but that doesn’t matter]. Doing this accesses a different area of your brain and helps to present a more creative description for you. You may find new information which empowers or at least surprises you.
Next, make a list of all the things you want or need to do no matter how great or small, physical or emotional. From visiting the Great Wall of China to sorting out a friendship dispute, write the list as quickly as you can. You can add to the list at any time later.
Once your Super-List is more-or-less complete, separate your thoughts under headings which best suit you. My friend calls this her life-map. Some ideas might include:
Most important things
Things I need to change in my life
Things I want to achieve
Places I want to visit / experience:
My wish list
Once problems, challenges and desires are separated under your choice of headings, you can prioritise. Put them into short term, medium term or long term time scale. This relieves pressure that not everything has to be done ‘today.’ Jot notes alongside your content. Keep the list as an ongoing life plan. Act on one topic at a time. Hopefully, you will begin to plan for the future, step by step, word by word.
Gillian Hesketh 2010