When I was twenty-five years old, I took the year off to travel to Australia, New Zealand, Bali and Thailand. While travelling in New Zealand, I found myself curled up in bed, alone in a cabin fit for one.
With no one around me, my mind started to race and I couldn’t sleep. Not one wink. My mind was on fire and wouldn’t rest. After five hours of tossing and turning, I finally turned on my light and pulled out my journal from the nightstand. It was time to get it all out, which is exactly what I did. Every single thought that was swirling around in my brain was put down on paper.
It was like taking out the garbage bins on Tuesday morning, along with some garbage tags because there were a few extra bags to be taken out. It was a doozy. I wrote it all down. It all came pouring out. And when I thought there was nothing left, I would say to myself, “What else?” or “What did you think about that?” or “How did you feel about that?” in order to truly get it all out and help along with the processing part of the program. It took about an hour.
Clearly, there was a lot going on in there. But do you know what happened once it was done? I passed out. Hard. My mind was able to work through the issue, find a resolution, and ultimately, rest. I fell into a peaceful sleep.
By spending just twenty minutes a day to jot down your thoughts, you can start to see your own thinking patterns and what is getting in your way of achieving your personal and professional goals. Dump out your thoughts and then try to respond by activating your rational brain. Ask yourself, “What would the rational part of my brain say to this?
The negative thoughts can easily dominate, affecting our mood and emotional well-being. But if we can strengthen our rational, compassionate, and patient voice, we can work though our struggles more efficiently and effectively.
A study in 2013 found that 76% of those who spent twenty minutes a day journaling for three days in a row before a scheduled biopsy were fully healed eleven days later. Fifty-eight percent of the control group had not yet recovered. The conclusion being that writing one hour about a distressing event helped the participants to better understand the events and reduce stress levels.
Journaling helps us to focus and organize our experiences, thoughts and feelings. It speeds up emotional recovery by building a stronger sense of identity. It removes mental blocks and allows us to use more brainpower to better understand ourselves, others, and the world around us. And while it can help us with the challenging situation at hand, it can also help us to prepare for similar experiences in the future.
Here are some additional benefits to journaling:
- It accesses your left brain, freeing up your right brain to create, intuit, feel
- You left brain focuses on analytical and rational thinking, allowing you to work through individual struggles and conflict with others.
- Acts like a garbage dump for your brain.
- Increases awareness of the subconscious, bringing information into consciousness (removing mental blocks).
- Creates a louder, more rational voice that helps us to focus and organize our experiences, thoughts and feelings.
- Physical benefits – enhances your fight against asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and physical wounds.
- Speeds up emotional recovery and prepares us for the future.
All you need is twenty minutes a day. Choose the same time every day to set yourself up for success. Put the journal on your nightstand and write as part of your bedtime routine. Dump out the experiences, thoughts and feelings of the day, so that you can get organized and settled on what it is you want and need. And maybe get a peaceful night’s sleep too.
Lots of love, Jaime