OK, so today I'm going to outline one of the most commonly used, simplest, and simultaneously most powerful and effective strategies for combating stress and worry and anxiety and depression AND for boosting health and happiness and wellbeing.
All it involves is writing down, how you're feeling and what you're thinking, on a regular basis!
Sound simple? It is...the only challenging bit is keeping it up, several times each day, for days and weeks and essentially, forever because that's what's required to get the real benefits. And there are real benefits; because research suggests that those who do this frequently and regulatly are healthier and happier.
Sound good? Well let's get to it then...
...all you need to do is get yourself a piece of paper and a pen (you can do this on a computer, of course, if you want to and you can even buy yourself a fancy pad or notebook if you like...whatever you feel most comfortable with) and then write down:
how you're feeling
what you're thinking
and the context this is occuring in
Do it now, just for practice; and then do it again several times throughout the day. I try to do this 3 times each day but again, it's up to you to find a routine that will work. Each time I record my thoughts and feelings I also make an effort to look out for any Automatic Negative Thoughts (read more HERE) as well as try to challenge those ANTs (more HERE).
Now this can be extremely beneficial for a number of reasons including...
it's a practice in mindfulness which we know is extremely beneficial
it's training in awareness and insight and especially, into early recognition of unhelpful thinking that can cause excessive distress and disfunction
and it also provides a means to practice challenging any of these unhelfpul thoughts allow the development of more helpful thoughts
NOTE: it's important to ensure that this journalling and/or thought monitoring finishes with a focus on something positive rather than an exercise that just dwells on problems and negatives. So I finish each of my little "sessions" with something like...what am I going to do now? or what actions do I need to take?
And that's about it!
It's simple, but don't underestimate simple. I can guarantee that if you practice this thought monitoring or journalling exercise, in a way that you feel comfortable with, on a regular basis over the long term that you will, without a doubt, enjoy more happiness and less distress. When you do get upset you'll find you can cope much better and bounce back much more quickly.
So give it a go and let us know how you fare!
PS: for more detailed explanations of this and a range of other strategies you might also like to consider "The Happiness Handbook" - HERE
PPS: if you feel you need even more help with this sort of thing then get in touch with our resident clinical psychologist, Nick, via nick @ makingchanges.com.au
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