Go Ahead and Pick Up the 500-Pound Pencil …

journalingI’m about to add another item to your already long list of healthy mind/body to-dos, but don’t panic. This addition takes little time, doesn’t cost a thing and still provides a load of benefits. It’s journaling, or what my good friend calls picking up the 500-pound pencil.

Journaling is cheap therapy, but most of us hesitate to do it. Writing down our personal thoughts and feelings appears to be an unnecessary chore. Are we not already conscious of the myriad musings bouncing around our brain? We most definitely are, but the written word is powerful, and the simple act of putting pen to paper can gather those thoughts and create some clarity.

To get the process going, one only needs a pen, a piece of paper and a few moments of spare time.

I typically scribble down my thoughts in the morning over a cup of coffee. My written meanderings are not the stuff of award-winning novels, but rather a free-flow of random thought.

Sometimes my words come out fast and furious and my journal acts as a sounding board for a grievance, or I might use the time to understand an emotion and get some perspective. Feelings of déjà vu help me to recognize behavior patterns and make changes when appropriate. My words are for my eyes only, so anything goes. Putting thoughts on paper gives them life and I’m sometimes surprised by what appears.

This next part is purely personal, but I never look back at old posts. I fail to see the benefit of dredging up the past and prefer to live in the moment. I definitely do not save journals and have even burned one as a cathartic cleansing of sorts.

Studies illustrate that journaling has a positive effect on our body and has been shown to reduce stress, help manage depression and strengthen our immune system. Out of all the stuff I routinely do to stay healthy, journaling takes the least amount of effort.

If you were asked to pick up the 500-pound pencil and journal to help a loved one solve a problem or improve their quality of life you would readily comply. So why not do it for yourself?

Do you journal? I don’t fill volumes, some days it is just a single paragraph. Karen

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