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How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life

How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life

What do you write down? For most of us, writing consists of emails, task lists, and perhaps the odd work project. However, making time to write down certain things, such as our daily experiences, our goals, and our mental clutter can change the way we live our lives.

Here are six different ways that writing things down can change your life, and what you can do to get the most out of each.

1. It clears your mind for higher-level thinking.

You can clear your mind by writing things down in two different ways.

David Allen, productivity speaker and author of Getting Things Done, recommends doing what he calls a “core dump”. This involves writing down every task, activity, and project you need to address. This could range from picking up milk on the way home, to a multi-person project at work. Writing down every “to-do” item you can think of clears space in your head for more important topics.

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You can also use a technique called “morning pages”, which was pioneered by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. Morning pages involves completing three pages (around 750 words) of stream-of-consciousness writing. Through doing this first thing each morning, you clear your head in preparation for the day’s most important thinking.

2. It helps you process your emotions.

Writing down what’s on our mind is a great way to work through inner conflict or process your feelings around a particular situation. It’s similar to talking a situation through with a friend, except it’s a useful way of strengthening your self-soothing abilities and enhancing your self-knowledge.

3. It gives you a record of the past.

If you keep a journal and regularly write down your thoughts and feelings, you’ll soon have a record of your experiences that you might otherwise have forgotten.

Reading back through this record is not just fascinating—it also provides a valuable insight into your thought process and emotional life. You can savor moments that you could have potentially forgotten and increase your levels of gratitude.

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Keeping a journal can also enhance your levels of self-trust. When you can look back and see how successfully you’ve traversed and dealt with important decisions and tricky situations in the past, you’ll feel more confident in your ability to do so in the future.

4. You gain a sense of achievement.

Writing things down can foster a sense of achievement and progress, expanding our possibilities and increasing our productivity.

If we journal, it’s incredibly satisfying to fill up one or more journals with our thoughts and feelings. Many people harbor dreams of writing a book, but balk at the reality of how long it takes. When you finish a journal, you’ll realize that you have written a book. This opens up a new sense of possibilities, not just in writing but in other areas of our lives, too.

Equally, if we write down everything we need to do in a particular day or week, we gain an additional sense of satisfaction when, having completed the task, we can cross the item off our list. Feeling productive enhances our productivity, creating a virtuous cycle.

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5. It helps you think big.

Writing things down gives you space to think big and aim high. No matter what’s going on in our outside world, when we write things down, we enter a world of possibility.

Doing this helps us stay motivated, and it reduces the chance that we fall prey to self-limiting beliefs. (Even if we do, we can keep writing things down to process our feelings!)

When we write things down, we have a chance to explore dreams and ambitions that we might not feel safe revealing to anyone else yet. We also have a space to keep track of all our ideas and desires so we can return to them later.

6. It makes you more committed.

As well as offering a space for exploring possibilities, writing our goals and ambitions down makes it more likely that we’ll achieve them.

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As with any goals, they are most effective if they are SMART: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timed. These are all variables we can work out and commit to through writing.

Writing down our goals is the first step towards making them a reality. It can also help us stay accountable. When you’ve outlined your SMART goal in writing, display it somewhere you can see for an extra shot of motivation.

How do you use writing to change your life? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Hannah Braime

Hannah is a coach who believes the world is a richer place when we have the courage to be fully self-expressed.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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