In my practice, if I received a dollar for each time I heard from my clients, “I was too busy to write this week,” I would be a wealthy man. Like many things that are actually good for us, journaling or dialoguing often get put aside or buried by the busyness of life. Somehow putting a high priority on writing wanes as we get caught up in the day-to-day commitment to work, family, and other pursuits.
I’ve come to believe that a formula must exist that calculates the power of introspection: Fifteen to thirty minutes of introspection equals one hour of productivity. Dialoguing takes time but it actually gives you time. It removes obstacles, clears the path for, well, work, family and other pursuits. In business terms, dialoguing mirrors planning. If you are too busy to plan in the business world and instead mire yourself in the tactical, day-to-day tasks, your business will soon be sunk. Planning out (strategic) your course of action is a necessity…so why is that a necessity in your personal world?
If you are trying to overcome an addiction, developing empathy for yourself is a must and is always the crux of the work. We have a whole series of compensation mechanisms we create in our bodies and our personalities that help us hide or otherwise ignore the root of our issues. Empathy plays a huge role in helping map where it all starts, so we can fix it. So as we strive to give more empathy to others, we also need to remember to reserve some of it for ourselves. If we don’t have the ability to be a student of ourselves, we’re going to have a hard time getting through life.
Benefits of Dialoguing
One of the ways to deal with any overwhelming emotion is to find a healthy outlet in which to express yourself—that makes a journal a helpful tool in managing your mental health. Journaling can help:
- Manage anxiety
- Reduce stress
- Cope with depression
Journaling helps control your symptoms and improve your mood by:
- Helping you prioritize problems, fears, and concerns
- Tracking any symptoms day-to-day so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them
- Providing an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts and behaviors
When you have a problem and you’re stressed, keeping a journal can help you identify what’s causing that stress or anxiety. Then, once you’ve identified your stressors, you can work on a plan to resolve the problems and, in turn, reduce stress.
Setting up a Dialoguing or Journaling Practice
Like most healthy habits, it’s best to structure your writing at the beginning of the day. Before you get into the trappings of the day, set aside some structured time to write. Try to set aside time to write several times per week and make it easy for yourself to follow through with it. If you prefer to physically write, buy a cool writing journal and keep it nearby at all times. If you prefer electronically, consider setting up a blog or use journaling software to keep it interesting.
Keeping a journal helps you establish order when your world feels like it’s in chaos. It helps you get to know yourself by revealing your innermost fears, thoughts, and feelings. Look at your writing time as personal relaxation time, a time when you de-stress and wind down. Write in a place that’s relaxing and soothing—maybe with a cup of tea. Look forward to your journaling time, and know that you’re doing something good for your mind and body.