Connect with us

Personal Development

How Writing Can Improve Your Mental & Physical Health

Published

on

The benefits of writing extend beyond the way it creatively engages the intellect. Writing can be an emotionally rewarding way of letting go of pent up stress and sorrow. It’s good to control and override stressful emotional impulses but it serves no benefit if we keep them inside of us.  Exercise or talking to loved ones about how you feel can help in this regard, but you may find yourself in a situation where you might not have a voice to hear you or you prefer to keep how you feel to yourself but still need a way to release your emotions. Writing in this case can be very helpful.

advertisement - learn more

Writing helps you enter a flow state in which all the built up emotions rush out of your heart and mind and onto the paper. When you write vividly and honestly about your experiences and how you feel, a gradual collection of emotional experiences will be documented throughout your life. Looking back at the journal, you will be able to see patterns of how certain emotional conflicts arise, giving you insight into the source and nature of your malfunctions, and the environment you are putting yourself in that is increasing those conflicts. You’ll be in a position to make a better decision about whether certain behavior patterns are serving you or not, as well as determine which people and things are causing those problems in your life.

I call this process a wisdom journal because, looking back on your writings, you will have a more thorough understanding and appreciation for who you have become as a result of your past toils and hiccups. This journal will document the gradual strengthening of your mind and the evolutionary process of who you have become.

This will only work if you are honest about yourself and you truly document your contributions to the scenarios that made you feel a certain way. Your mistakes are all a part of the process of becoming a better person so it is important to document the mistake and the overall lesson learned from it. This is a very personal documentation of your journey, so if you are worried about other people finding and reading it, you can write it in a way that only you can understand, using metaphors and language that would appear vague to others but trigger crystal clear memories within you.

The physical and mental health benefits of writing include long-term reductions in stress levels and depressive symptoms. A 2005 study on the emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing found that just 15 to 20 minutes of writing a day was enough to make a difference in the overall stress levels of participants.

advertisement - learn more

Participants were less likely to have illnesses and less likely to experience trauma as a result of writing about traumatic, emotional, and stressful events. Less time was spent in the hospital along with a drop in blood pressure and liver functionality.

Remarkably, another study suggests that writing can help physical wounds heal faster. In 2013, New Zealand researchers monitored the recovery of wounds from medically necessary biopsies on 49 healthy adults. For 3 days the participants wrote about upsetting events or daily activities for 20 minutes each day. After two weeks (researchers wanted to wait to make sure any initial negative feelings stirred up by recalling upsetting events had passed), all the subjects had a biopsy on the arm and then their healing was tracked over the subsequent twenty one days. 11 days after the procedure, 76% of the group that chose to write were healed completely while 58% of the control group had not yet recovered. The study concluded that writing about distressing events helped the participants come to terms with the events, therefore reducing distress.

People who suffer from a long term disease or illness can benefit from writing. Studies have revealed that people who suffer from asthma have fewer attacks if they keep a journal of how they are feeling compared to those who don’t. AIDS patients who write have been proven to show higher T-cell counts because they are under less stress. Cancer patients who write are less affected by stress and depression and have an improved quality of life because they are more optimistic.

James W. Pennebaker has been conducting research on the healing nature of writing for several years at the University of Texas at Austin. “When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health. They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function.”

Pennebaker suggests that the act of expressive writing enables one to take a step back and more objectively analyze their life. Rather than obsess over a life event in an unhealthy manner, one can focus on moving forward. Moving forward with less anxiety about the future reduces stress; it removes the blockage that is holding one back from being happier.

It seems like writing can be akin to exercise, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep. Our emotional well-being is just as important as our physical well-being and writing is a great way to keep ourselves emotionally fit. Thoughts and emotions are like little life forms in our body. They want to live as long as possible and run the show. When we write, we are getting those thoughts and emotions out of our body and into the zoo. Our journals are the zoo of experiences that make us who we are.

Advertisement
advertisement - learn more

Consciousness

How To Stop Self-Sabotage & Get Out Of Your Own Way

Published

on

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    While we all have our fair share of obstacles to overcome in life, in many cases, we are the biggest obstacles standing in our way. Thankfully, there are things we can all do to cut back on self-sabotaging behaviour.

  • Reflect On:

    How much am I holding myself back from? What, if anything, am I getting from keeping myself in the state I am in?

Whether or not you consider yourself a creative person, we are all creative powerhouses. Proof of this lies within our minds, which are consistently concocting ideas, scenarios, goals and so much more that all play a prominent role in the life that we live.​

While some of us thrive at making the most of the constructive impulses that come our way, the vast majority of us instead seem to excel at running with those that are instead destructive in nature. We may feel as though we live in a world filled with ruthless competition, but in reality our biggest competitor both operates and exists within us.

“Addiction, self-sabotage, procrastination, laziness, rage, chronic fatigue and depression are all ways that we withhold our full participation in the program of life we are offered. When the conscious mind cannot find a reason to say no, the unconscious says no in its own way.” – Charles Eisenstein, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible

Here are some of what I’ve found to be the most common ways in which we sabotage ourselves and what we can all do to get out of our own way:

The Problem With Overthinking

One of the most common ways that we sabotage ourselves is by overthinking. Don’t get me wrong, there are a number of situations and scenarios in which reflecting on something extensively is not only beneficial, but often the best course of action. However, the number of times where that is the case is far outweighed by the number of times we opt to overthink.

One second we are excited about a new idea, and within hours, or sometimes minutes, we’ve concretely established three worst case scenarios, two of which have a 0.001% likelihood of ever occurring, and we’ve sold ourselves on the conclusion that we shouldn’t even bother. Sound familiar?

advertisement - learn more

If overthinking is an issue for you, I recommend that you try adding journaling into your daily life. I personally like to follow the protocol outlined in the infamous book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which encourages you to journal first thing in the morning, but taking any time out of your day to allow your mind to metaphorically dump onto the page can be life-changing. Let yourself write literally anything and everything that comes to mind. It may feel counterproductive at first, but you’d be surprised at how often writing things out can make your thoughts feel heard, allowing you to more easily assess the healthy from the unhealthy and move past those that would have previously sabotaged your creativity.

Cut The Comparison

Another common way in which we frequently self sabotage is through comparison, especially in our social media driven world where measuring ourselves against others has never been more prevalent. With a couple of swipes and scrolls we can easily compare ourselves to hundreds of other people, most of which are portraying themselves and their lives inaccurately.

If comparison is your “Achilles heel”, there are two things you can do: 1) cut back on how much time you spend on social media, and 2) actively challenge yourself to celebrate rather than compare yourself to the accomplishments of others.

For example, I could very easily look at the work of someone like Jay Shetty–whose content falls largely under a similar umbrella to mine–and see that it’s being seen by millions of people compared to the thousands that mine is typically consumed by, and allow myself to get down because of that. Or I can alternatively look at his accomplishments, including his recent appearance on The Ellen Show–a longtime goal of mine–and instead be happy for him, seeing his success as living proof that there is an audience for this content.

Sorry, I Was Distracted

A third lesser-known way in which we sabotage ourselves, occasionally even subconsciously, is through distraction. Rather than taking immediate action or even the smallest of steps to further establish the healthy neural pathway that is trying to form, we closet that creativity by opting to distract ourselves from listening to it.

Common ways that we do this include picking up our phones and checking social media, or using our fatigue to justify sitting on the couch and watching some TV, both of which always provide more than enough content for us to engage with in a far less creative manner.

If distraction is your self sabotage speciality, consider setting aside set periods each day where you do not allow yourself to engage with any form of technology. Whether you opt to read a book, meditate or spend some time out in nature, give your mind the daily opportunity to reacclimatize to what that experience feels like, and you may be pleasantly surprised by what it leads to.


For more brutally honest personal development content designed for those who actually want to change be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel and to follow me on Instagram. And to receive my free eBook on 5 Simple Daily Hacks For A Genuinely Happier Life click HERE.

Article originally written for and published by Ideapod.

Help Support Collective Evolution

The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

SUPPORT CE HERE!

cards

Continue Reading

Consciousness

My 3 Weeks Listening To Only 1 Song & What I Learned About Focus

Published

on

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Music impacts us in more ways than we likely think. It turns out that purposely listening to a single song or playlist could work wonders when it comes to creativity and focus.

  • Reflect On:

    What music do you regularly listen to, especially as you work? Pay attention to how every song you listen to makes you feel both during and after playing it.

In the name of personal development and health, I’ve always been someone who has enjoyed challenging myself and trying new things. And while you think that I would have logically taken at least a bit of a break after recently going 400+ days without candy (read about that HERE), I opted to instead jump immediately into my next adventure.

This time I challenged myself, an avid lover of music, to only be able to listen to one song of my choosing for what turned out to be three straight weeks.

While the idea behind this may sound crazy to many of you, I’m not the first one to do it. In fact, my inspiration stemmed from the bestselling book Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by infamous life-hacker Tim Ferriss. In one of the many sections that the book is broken into, Tim reveals that a number of prominent individuals have purposely chosen to listen to just one song or soundtrack on repeat while working on a given project.

Free solo climbing phenom Alex Honnold, the lead developer of WordPress Matt Mullenweg, and female obstacle course racer Amelia Boone are just 3 of the many examples that the book outlines.

Currently having a lot on my creative plate, in addition to running my company, I decided to try it out. The song I chose was ‘Time’ by Hans Zimmer, a song most infamously known for its place on the Inception Soundtrack.

Now, I will fully admit that this was not the only song that I heard over the course of these three weeks, since I opted to: A) not shut myself out from the rest of the world to ensure this was possible, and B) not be the person who approached the employees of every public venue I went to requesting that they change their current playlist for a classical song on repeat. But aside from those times, it was all that I heard.

advertisement - learn more

I listened to it while working, driving, working out, cooking and more. Here are some of my key takeaways:

The Song Never Got Old

The most surprising takeaway for me from this entire experience was that I can honestly say that I never got tired of listening to the song I chose. According to my iTunes, as of the moment I am writing this sentence, the song has been played a whopping 473 times and to be honest I wouldn’t mind hearing it right now.

It Becomes A Form Of Musical Meditation

In my experience, having the same song play on repeat allowed it to become a form of musical meditation. My mind always knew what to expect and it was able to coast on autopilot to that expectation while focusing on whatever primary activity I was engaging in at the time.

As someone whose musical taste is typically quite eclectic to say the least, having a level playing field was honestly a pleasant experience. Not to mention I didn’t waste any time or lose focus by frequently searching for or skipping songs as I normally would.

Song Choice Is Critical

As much as I love ‘Time’ by Hans Zimmer, no part of me would have listed it as my favorite song of all-time prior to this experience (and for the record it still isn’t). That being said, for these purposes it was exactly what I needed.

I’m not suggesting that we should all listen to the same song that I did, but to instead make our selection based on what we know is most likely to work with us. In my case, I knew that only something in the classical realm with no lyrics stood a chance at being the only song played for more than 24 hours.

Ultimately, if you have something to focus on, I highly suggest trying this out. I personally enjoyed it so much that not only did the initial challenge evolve from what was supposed to be one week into three weeks, but I am also still listening to it whenever I need to focus on a specific task at hand (such as writing my book). I allow myself to listen to the other music I love whenever I find myself doing things that don’t require so much of my attention, but when it comes to locking in, Hans Zimmer’s Time is my anthem!


For more brutally honest personal development content designed for those who actually want to change be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel and to follow me on Instagram. And to receive my free eBook on 5 Simple Daily Hacks For A Genuinely Happier Life click HERE.

Help Support Collective Evolution

The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

SUPPORT CE HERE!

cards

Continue Reading

Consciousness

A Simple Trick To Unlock Determination & Focus

Published

on

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In a world filled with distractions, the ability to lock in and focus has become harder and harder to master. But rather than looking outside of yourself for a solution, the key may just lie within.

  • Reflect On:

    How many notifications do you receive daily? Are there any Apps that rather than always receiving notifications from you could instead just check at certain times?

A recent study revealed that in the United States, the average smartphone user receives 45.9 push notifications per day, and many of us exceed that number. From Facebook to Instagram to Twitter to WhatsApp to Gmail, everything is constantly vying for our attention.

As a result of this overload, we’re experiencing a collective inability to focus at our highest potential and a reality where the majority of us are consistently fighting off some sort of urge to do something else.

(Fun Fact: Even as I’ve just started to write this article I’ve already seen my phone light up twice with notifications. I’ve now followed my own rules and have turned it over to lock in on the task at hand–more on this later.)

Even if you are part of the dying breed of individuals who have sworn off social media, although you finding and reading this article suggests otherwise, we all seem to be having an incredibly difficult time staying focused.

And with every useless scroll through our Instagram news feed and with every endless YouTube video rabbit hole we fall into, we only further shrink our attention span and strengthen the programming that convinces us that this is normal behaviour.

advertisement - learn more

Assuming that part of why you clicked on this article is because you do have something that you ideally would like to focus on and ultimately accomplish, I’d like to share with you the best tactic I’ve personally found (and some bonus ones) to “lock in.” Believe it or not, this tactic is not a specific exercise, but is instead designed for you to realize that you still have an incredible ability to focus within you. It hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s just been misguided.

In fact, it’s likely getting more use than you could ever imagine.

The best way to explain this further is by using an example. Think of the last time you either: A) lost your phone, or B) forgot to bring a charger and realized that your phone was about to die.

The moment that either of those realities kick in for most of us, we immediately enter a state where nothing else matters. In scenario A, we search everywhere possible, call it from any other device we can get our hands on, and seek out the assistance of everyone available. In scenario B, despite being an introvert on the daily, we suddenly find ourselves engaging in conversation with everyone by asking for a charger, and if one can’t be found we start planning our exit no matter how much fun we’re having pre-low battery.

We’ve all experienced and have seen this before. When assessed like this, it likely sounds like a form of insanity–and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is–but from a completely different perspective, it’s actually fully “locked in” determination.

You see, we all have the capacity to focus on one particular thing and give all of ourselves to it, it’s just that our auto-pilot has become the opposite because of the sheer number of distractions we are exposed to and have become addicted to.

So rather than looking outside of yourself for some practice or technique that’s going to help you focus and finish writing that book, completing the homework, or finally send out those wedding thank you cards, look within and realize that you are still a determination powerhouse just waiting to be re-guided.

Bonus Tips: 1) When working on something important, put your phone on silent and either put it in another room or face down on your desk. 2) Consider turning off notifications and instead just check certain apps at particular points in the day. I’ve personally turned off all notifications from Facebook, Instagram and all audible email pushes.


For more brutally honest personal development content designed for those who actually want to change be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel and to follow me on Instagram. And to receive my free eBook on 5 Simple Daily Hacks For A Genuinely Happier Life click HERE.

Help Support Collective Evolution

The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

SUPPORT CE HERE!

cards

Continue Reading
advertisement - learn more
advertisement - learn more

Video

Pod