What do you first think of when you hear “journaling?” A lot of times we think of a young teenage girl writing her thoughts in a flowery, pink notebook. For the die-hard dieters, we may think along the lines of a food log and documenting every single calorie and morsel that has passed our lips.
What many people don’t realize is that journaling, or writing down our thoughts, can do so much more for us than simple being a place of record for a teenagers latest crush or the exact macros in our Farmers Market Salad we just ate.
Journaling is a great tool for any transformation, including weight loss. Why? What can journaling do for us?
Search the net and you will see numerous articles and studies that have shown the power of expressing our thoughts onto paper. There are so many ways that journaling can help, from increasing happiness and joy to healing. I will share with you the five reasons I believe journaling has helped my past clients and myself on our journeys.
When we release intense emotions, we are able to become calmer and frankly, happier. Whether we are upset, angry, frustrated, irritated or even overwhelmed, writing down these thoughts and feelings give them a place to reside beyond in our head and in our body. This helps to reduce the stressful feelings we have associated with intense emotions such as these and allows our body to get out of that fight or flight response and relax! When we relax, our whole body calms down physically, our digestion system gets back on track and guess what? We now have the ability to lose weight again…it is very difficult for many of us to lose weight in a state of stress because losing weight is not the body’s first priority when we are in highly stressed circumstances.
Journaling can improve not just your emotional health, but your physical health too because what is going on in your mind does affect your body internally and externally. According to Dr. James Pennebaker, author of Writing to Heal, “…we know from multiple studies that there are enhancements in immune function, drops in blood pressure, improvements in sleep, and drops in other markers of stress. People go to the doctor less in the months after EW [expressive writing]. Other studies find faster wound healing, greater mobility among people with arthritis, and the list goes on.” Who would have thought that by simply expressing yourself in writing, you can decrease your blood pressure, improve your sleep or help with faster wound healing? The mind and our thoughts are certainly stronger than we sometimes give them credit for. When we can help the healing along with something other than a pill, I find that a huge win for many of us that prefer a more natural means of restoring our health. Have you ever thought a pen and paper could have that much impact on your well-being? Pretty awesome!
CLEAR SPACE AND CALM THE OVERACTIVE MIND
Many times we overanalyze, overthink and over-scrutinize our lives, examining each and every tiny moment that happens throughout the day. This doesn’t give us much space in our heads for other things and it doesn’t create a positive mindset either. By journaling, we are moving our thoughts to paper, giving them another place to live instead of crowding our head. Being a Harry Potter fan, I have always thought the idea of Dumbledore’s Pensieve (a place where you can store memories) to be pretty amazing! That’s what I believe that journaling can do for us. Writing down those thoughts not only provides a place for them to reside, but also helps with our memory and frees our active minds from running over and over a past situation, experience or conversation. Essentially, journaling helps to slow down the replay and what if button in our brains and frees up space for new, exciting or creative thoughts.
MINDFULNESS AND CLARITY
Have you ever had a decision to make and had no idea what you were going to do? Writing helps us to gain clarity and makes us more mindful overall. At times, we are not even sure what our thoughts are because we have so many of them going in every direction. By taking pen to paper, we are able to gain insights into where we are, acknowledge our basic train of thought and recognize what may be some possible solutions for ourselves. You will be able get clear about people, situations and opportunities that come your way and… you may also begin to see that certain people and things that may not be serving you as well as you may have hoped for. Jotting down your thoughts gives you a new heightened awareness and allows you to make decisions in your life with a progressive and deeper understanding of where you are and where you want to go.
GOALS AND ACHIEVEMENT
Whenever goals are discussed, it is always mentioned that they should be written down. After all, how many of us have heard “A goal is just a wish, unless is written down on paper?” We have heard it over and over again because there is some truth there. Also, writing down a goal, in your own handwriting, seems to add validity to it for ourselves. We can create an amazing spreadsheet with time allocated goals written in and places to fill in where we are at. However, that doesn’t always have the same impact as when we hand write a goal down for ourselves. Putting that goal into writing, on a physical piece of paper makes it real! And, sometimes we even avoid writing it down because the goal is a bit too big, too scary or too significant for us to make it real by writing it in ink. In fact, people who write their goals down on paper are more than 42% more likely to achieve them! (Other studies show that the achieving rate when goals are written is as high as 80%!). You want a goal to happen? Write it DOWN!
There are many other ways that journaling can benefit you in life, whether you are looking to improve yourself personally, professionally or are embarking on a transformation of any kind.
Take a few minutes before bed or when you get up in the morning and see how you feel. Not sure what to write? Try starting with gratitude. Write three things that you are grateful for and go from them. What have you got to lose?
Give it a go and let me know your thoughts!