I have kept a daily journal consistently since 2006. Each year I buy a planner/calendar and record stuff. What I record has varied over the years: workouts, calorie counts, water and alcohol consumption, books read, or I just wrote about feelings and events like you would in a diary. Some years I have been really consistent in writing or recording every day and some years I haven’t done as well.
I recently spent some time going back through my journals and I was able to pull some data from them. Looking over the yearly data I was able to identify patterns. Every year for the past 11 years, January has been my most consistent month for working out as well as the hardest month for me at work. 2012 was my best year of working out and the last two years (15 & 16) have been two of my three worst years for working out.
In my last post I mentioned an article about 18 Habits of Highly Successful People and interestingly enough, habit #2 is journaling. This article cites research that says a recent study showed that journaling about thoughts and feelings helped college students deal with stressful situations. Personally I feel that journaling is like venting. I often feel better after getting my thoughts and emotions out on paper. After journaling, I can then let those feelings go and move on to other things.
If you Google “journaling” tons of great resources will come up. I found an article The Health Benefits of Journaling that also cites research that shows health benefits from journaling such as strengthening immune cells and decreasing symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
Also in this day and age, there are TONS of unique and cool journals that you can buy to make journal easier and more fun. While I just use a regular At-a-Glance Monthly/Weekly planner from Staples, I have family members who use Start Planners or Erin Condren Planners. Or you could do something with a word processing program like GoogleDocs or Microsoft Word. There really is something for everybody out there. And I’m sure there are even journal apps available!
So if you’ve never tried journaling, I highly recommend it! I have found that it can actually be kind of addictive to want to write down good things every day!
Everywhere you look in the self-help world you hear a lot about the “talk” or “voices” in your head. There are all kinds of strategies and books out there that attempt to help you get that noise in your head under control. In a previous post I’ve mentioned how using mantras has helped me in the past.
Today I read an article called 18 Habits of Highly Successful People by Shana Lebowitz. The very first habit listed is “They Talk to Themselves,” but it was not what I expected. Apparently there is research that says when you talk to yourself you should use the third-person instead of the first-person. So rather than saying to yourself “I can do this!” you should say “Jenny (or insert your own name), you can do this!” The research shows that talking to yourself in this way can reduce stress or help you see stressful situations as challenging instead of stressful.
When I first read this and thought about addressing myself in the third-person, I almost laughed. Seems so silly to talk to yourself that way! But being on the never ending quest of finding ways to improve my life, I decided to have an open mind and give it a try. Keep in mind that I’ve only tried this for one day so far, but after one day I didn’t see or feel a difference as a result of talking to myself in this new way. As I found myself struggling with various issues today, I used the new talk with my mantras. I don’t feel that the refocus I gained from the mantras was any different than it would have been had I still been using the first-person. I used two mantras today and the first one was already in the third-person: “Focus on how you want to feel.” And the second one was: “I can and I will” which became “You can and you will.” With the one I changed, I felt like it actually lost that self-empowering and determined feel that it has in it’s original version.
So in conclusion, I will continue to try this different way of talking to myself because I know just one day of trying something isn’t enough. And I look forward to investigating the other 17 habits of highly successful people from the article.