How many times a day do you use a pen and paper? Is your penmanship used predominantly on signing credit card receipts, writing to-do lists, or jotting down illegible notes? We type, text and click faster than we could ever write, but are we leaving something special behind in the dust?
Talia Tugman of Bite Size Wellness is bringing back pen-therapy. There’s a connection from mind to hand to paper that is something you can’t get with the useful, yet impersonal, keyboard and screen. Writing down your thoughts may feel foreign, but think of a hand cramp and a loss for words like working out some muscles you haven’t in a while.
By Talia Tugman
Remember the days of passing notes in class and hiding a diary under your bed? There was always something cathartic about venting via your teenaged, unfiltered self. These days you are probably lucky to even hear yourself think let alone share any thoughts with a piece of paper. Rekindle your love with your old sweethearts: a pen and paper.
You don’t need to be coined a “writer” or get all mushy and gushy with a notebook to reap the benefits of journaling. The act of writing in privacy is a space to cope with feelings, work through a difficult time or come to unexpected (but healing) realization which can be emotionally therapeutic in a way that even your BFF can’t help you attain. Physically, keeping a journal is known to be an outlet to counteract stress, strengthen your immune system and get your intellectual wheels spinning. And, the easiest to achieve for a die-hard with a diary or a newbie remembering how to hold a pen, is to use your journal to help you problem solve in a safe spot without judgment for those sometimes maniac-esque ideas. You’ll be surprised how much that little black book (not that one guys…that is the color of MY journal!) can pull out of you and how easily it can put you on the path to discovery. All this and it is sans doctor plus it is FREE! The point is to let it all go, grammar and chicken scratch handwriting aside, through a vehicle that allows you to self-reflect, manage your stress and seek personal growth.
Oh, and did I mention, journaling can assist you in untangling some of those nagging thoughts that keep you awake at night which equals more sleeping…and we all need that!
Here are 5 steps to getting acquainted with your paper and pencil (you know those things with the eraser on the end that we used to use before we got all techy and iPad-like):
1. Invest in a Journal: This may seem like a “duh” part of the process, but the type of journal you choose to purchase is an important decision. Do you want a notebook that is uniquely yours or are you a loose leaf type person? Perhaps you would prefer to type your thoughts in an online journal like Penzu or Diary. Do you like lines or blank pages? You want your journal to reflect your personality and bestow creativity, but also be functional to your needs.
2. Set Aside the Time: Having a journal that shows your character won’t do any good if you let it become table décor. Often times it isn’t the act of journaling that is difficult, but finding the time to write. Block off around 10 minutes every day to let your thoughts flow. Make it routine at a time that works best for you such as first thing in the morning, during your lunch break or as a time to reflect before bed.
3. P ut the Pen to Paper (or your fingers to the keyboard): When you get started stay far away from overthinking. This is not going to be graded or reviewed. Simply w rite whatever comes to you in the moment. Since your journal is for your eyes only, leave the judgments at the door. Perfection should not be expected, spelling errors or grammar issues do not matter and neatness is not important.
4. Share your Feelings: Don’t be afraid to get personal. This is a space where to-do lists or a catalog of the day’s events are welcome, but more importantly share how these activities make you feel on an emotional and physical level. Vent about negative emotions. Share positive thoughts. Really get at the life lessons whether good, bad or ugly. Those who really reach into their inner self have the most success with the health benefits that the written word can provide.
5. Keep it Private: Save the self-censoring for the times when you are in front of the kids or at the office. You should not need to worry about anyone reading your work or you won’t achieve the same liberating benefits that someone who keeps their journal private. This does not mean your journaling habits need to be kept secret, however, if you need to get a lock and key or password protect your journal to guard your privacy than do so. Feeling confident that your words are for only you is a sure way to be authentic and candid with yourself.
Writer’s Block? Here are some “Dear Diary” starter ideas:
- If you could have anything this moment, what would you wish for?
- Discuss your most recent dream.
- Make a list of what you are grateful for.
- What are your challenges at work? At home?
- If you could mend or strengthen a relationship who would it be with and why?
- Talk about your best day. Your worst day.
- Where would you like to be in 2 years? 5 years?
- What makes you laugh?
- Share childhood memories or adult experiences.
- Write a letter to a loved one.
- Or don’t think too hard about a topic and just let your stream of consciousness take you away!
Whether you are left-brained or on the creative carousal all the time, there is nothing like processing and recording your ups-and-downs in written form. Get friendly with pen and paper again (daily if you can). You won’t regret it!
Talia Tugman lives in New York City with her nearly new husband. In an effort to be in touch with living a healthy lifestyle in a new city, Talia is sharing enlightened wellness living information with others served in bite size portions on her blog BiteSizeWellness.com.