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Easily Stressed People Are Mentally Healthier After Writing This Down. See How The Trick Works.

Easily Stressed People Are Mentally Healthier After Writing This Down. See How The Trick Works.

Most successful businesses operate by following a fundamental set of core values. Their vision and mission statement reflect these values, the day to day operations are driven by them and they dictate how major decisions are made. Having core values provides a clarity that fosters focus and makes prioritizing easy.

As human beings, we all have a personal set of core values that reflect the essence of who we are. We all have them. However having them and consciously allowing them to guide you through life are two entirely different things. Understanding and living a life driven by your own personal values is one of the major keys to success, happiness and inner peace.

Write it out

The first step in living a life full of purpose and passion is to write down your own personal values. Your values, though tied to your morals and ethics are not a system of right or wrong. Your personal values are the things you value the most. What drives you? What makes you feel alive, energized and invigorated? Is it love, family, money, career, popularity, serving others, social justice, rescuing animals? The list goes on and on. What do you love? What matters to you?

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Now that you have identified them–write them down.

Why? Research shows that writing down your values yields dozens of positive results such as:

  • You get a true picture of who you really are and what you stand for. To get what you truly want, you must be who you truly are.
  • You will begin to manage your time better. You will learn to make better choices about where you spend your time.
  • Knowing and being true to what really matters to you will ignite your passion for your purpose and being able to fulfill your purpose fuels that passion even more. The two are interdependent and keep you motivated and moving forward.
  • Our values are like our internal compass. They keep us headed toward our true north. When we get off course, having them written down helps us notice sooner. Writing about our values helps remind us of where we need to be and it helps us get back on track more easily.
  • Our values are our roots that keep us grounded in what’s important to us. Having them written down visually reminds us to stay true to who we really are.

In short, discovering, defining, writing down and living your core values helps to ensure that you get more of the right things done and makes the journey so much more enjoyable.

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Seeing your personal values in writing reduces stress

Dr. Kelly McGonigal, Stanford Professor and author of the book The Upside of Stress, has studied the impact that connecting our personal values to our experiences–specifically journaling about the connection–has on our overall health, well-being and ability to cope with stress. According to Dr. McGonigal’s research there are life altering benefits to writing about our personal values:

“In the long term, writing about values has been shown to boost GPAs, reduce doctor visits, improve mental health, and help with everything from weight loss to quitting smoking and reducing drinking. It helps people persevere in the face of discrimination and reduces self-handicapping. In many cases, these benefits are a result of a one-time mindset intervention. People who write about their values once, for ten minutes, show benefits months or even years later.”

McGonigal believes that writing about how the events of our day match up with our deepest personal values can mentally and biologically improve our ability to deal with stress. In the cases she studied she found that:

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“Stressful experiences were no longer simply hassles to endure; they became an expression of values… small things that might otherwise have seemed irritating became moments of meaning.”

Putting it in to action

When our actions and activities don’t align with our values, we feel less authentic and become demotivated in our daily lives..

Below are a few simple steps to assist you in aligning your actions, activities, goals and life purpose with your own unique set of values:

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Writing it down:

  • Choose the top five (or less) things you value most in life and write them down.
  • Define what each of those values means to YOU.
  • Reflect on your day (or week). What went well? When did you feel stressed? Why?
  • Select one or two highs and one or two stressful events and briefly jot down how they connect to at least one of your core values.
  • Select one or two core values and jot down something you can do the next day (or during the following week) that will positively reflect that value.

Self Assessment:

  • As time progresses, keep a tally of how many times you purposefully and intentional engage in activities that positively reflect your value system
  • Assess your stress levels. Are you feeling more or less stressed/anxious since you began the exercise? How is your passion and motivation? Do you feel driven?
  • Assess your physical well-being. How are you feeling overall? What changes have you noticed (more or less: headaches, neck and back pain, tension, upset stomach. etc.).
  • Plan your action: what can you do to keep this moment going?

The most important thing you can do for your personal success today is to not only know your core values, but live them. Allow them to become a part of your day to day life. Write about them and learn to see them in everything you do. A life lined-up with personal values is a well-lived, purpose-filled life.

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Denise Hill

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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