Want to lose weight, reduce your pain, find your car keys, and motivate yourself to exercise? Write it down! Through journaling, you can write your way to health. Whether fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, arthritis, lupus, cancer, Lyme disease, or PTSD has you side-tracked, journaling can help bring your wellness plans into focus.
Journaling may bring to mind images of a silk-covered book and a calligraphy pen, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. Journaling doesn’t have to be a painful writing exercise where you pour out your emotions on paper. Journaling could look something like simple list-making. I keep small spiral-bound notebooks in every purse, backpack, and tote bag I carry. I’m forever writing things down. It’s not just a matter of a failing memory (although that plays a role); it’s a matter of importance.
If it’s important to me, I write it down!
Here are some writing exercises you may not have thought of as journaling.
Want to make better food choices? Keep a food diary or journal. It definitely helps to track what you eat and when. Here’s my own example. I’ve been very particular about what I eat for almost a decade, but when I recently began analyzing the actual protein to carb ratio of what I was eating, I found that I was way off in my estimations. Writing it down made that clear. The result? I’ve re-calculated what I eat and have been dropping pounds (slowly, and still counting) since July. I’m feeling much better! Jotting down what foods you eat also helps you to better-manage your digestive upsets. It’s easier to flip back a few pages in your journal to read what you ate over the weekend than racking your brain trying to remember. Tracking your food consumption helps to analyze what foods may have triggered increased pain, fatigue, or any other undesirable response.
Want to locate your car keys (and other important items)? Make a list of where you store your important items and documents including keys, combinations to locks, insurance policies, photo albums, etc. Some things on your list may seem obvious, but the simple act of writing it down will help you to remember where to put (and find!) your important items. Also, in an emergency, this list would help another family member collect your important items quickly and efficiently.
Want to feel better overall? Track your activities and progress on paper. Make a chart or simply jot down your errands, meals, meetings, appointments, etc. Tracking how and where you expend energy can help you see how and why a symptom flare-up may have happened. Prevention is key! If you can determine how a flare occurred in the past, you’re better armed to prevent one from occurring in the future. As we’re all running on a deficit of energy, doesn’t it make sense to figure out what gives us energy and what depletes us?
Want to fit fitness into your daily life? Keeping a workout or fitness journal helps to maintain motivation. Nothing motivates you like seeing – in your own handwriting – your progress. Each day, write down the type of workout (walking/cycling/weights, etc.), the duration (how many minutes you worked out) of your efforts, and any other relevant information. It might be important to write down what muscle groups you focused on and/or what time of day you exercised. Exercise isn’t about any particular workout – it’s about the cumulative effects of your efforts. Seeing results on paper will definitely show up physically. It’s not about losing weight, but if you have it to lose, here’s an important statistic. I read just this morning that simply losing one pound can relieve four pounds of pressure on your knees. Isn’t that a worthwhile goal?
And last, but not least ….
Want to feel better emotionally? Want to change your view of the world? A gratitude journal is a GREAT way to document all that you’re grateful for. Even just a sentence or two a day has a big impact on your emotional focus. Keep your gratitude journal on your nightstand for better sleep. Simply seeing that journal can bring about thoughts and ideas of gratefulness. Writing them down helps to set them into memory. The best part of a gratitude journal is flipping back through the pages to review how your gratefulness has multiplied. The more you think of what you’re grateful for, the more you’re choosing to focus on the positive things of life.
Journaling provides endless opportunities for learning and self-growth. Here are a few more journaling ideas to get you going. Tell me your ideas, too!
–Prayer and petition journals
–Family activities journals
–Research journals (write down interesting facts and ideas you’ve learned)
–Clippings journals (add clippings/printouts of interesting articles and ideas)
–Nature journals (write down the various flora/fauna you see while on daily walks)
–Friends journals (write down your friends’ concerns and worries so you can pray for them)
–Children’s landmark journals (write down the funny things your children say, their accomplishments, their hopes and dreams, etc. – be sure to date your entries!)
Remember the power of the pen (and the keyboard) and I look forward to hearing from you!