Let it all out!

Introducing the world’s best life hack

Women's Fitness (UK) - - Contents -

Are you feel­ing stuck in a rut? Do you crave change? Are you strug­gling to make your goals be­come a re­al­ity?

Well, we’ll let you into a lit­tle se­cret: putting pen to pa­per may be your an­swer. ‘Every sin­gle self-de­vel­op­ment “guru” and the ma­jor­ity of suc­cess­ful busi­ness lead­ers ad­vo­cate the use of a jour­nal,’ ex­plains Robert Brennan, a med­i­ta­tion and mind­ful­ness coach. ‘It is the sole best way to grow per­son­ally, to max­imise learning, to pre­vent mak­ing the same mis­takes over and over again, and to boost hap­pi­ness, pro­duc­tiv­ity, health, em­pa­thy and relationships.’

And he’s cer­tainly not the only one cham­pi­oning the art of writ­ing. Re­search con­ducted by Pro­fes­sors Kitty Klein and Adriel Boals of North Carolina State Uni­ver­sity found that there are in­deed ben­e­fi­cial ef­fects when it comes to ex­pres­sive writ­ing, par­tic­u­larly when used to con­vey stress­ful thoughts. Those who did so experienced fewer doc­tor vis­its, im­proved im­mune func­tion and greater men­tal well­be­ing.

In her lat­est book, Let It Out, author Katie Dale­bout too ex­plores the pow­ers of ‘jour­nal­ing’ after dis­cov­er­ing it in her dark­est hours. Un­sure where to start? Looking to learn the tricks of the trade? Just read on...

Let it out to… get or­gan­ised

Do you find that you start pro­cras­ti­nat­ing – reach­ing for your phone, post­ing cute cat pic­tures, scrolling through In­sta­gram – when you have so much to do? Jour­nal­ing is a great way to get a han­dle on all the to-dos that too often sim­ply over­whelm us. ‘We all jug­gle so much, and some­times get­ting it down on pa­per is the only way to know where to even be­gin to make a dent,’ Katie says. Es­sen­tially, it’s all about achiev­ing clar­ity. Or, as Katie ex­plains, dis­cov­er­ing your ‘time leaks’ and patch­ing these up un­til you’re us­ing every sec­ond of your time in a healthy way.

One of Katie’s tools, ‘The Pri­ori­tiser’, aims to help you

proac­tively, rather than re­ac­tively, your struc­ture your day by iden­ti­fy­ing MITS (Most Im­por­tant Tasks). Be­fore you go to bed, write down your top three MITS for the day ahead – the three things that you must ac­com­plish in or­der to feel that the day has been that, a suc­cess. Draw a line and un­der are write down all your other tasks that less im­por­tant but should still be that for com­pleted. ‘Make a com­mit­ment each task you com­plete off the bot­tom an half of your list, you must com­plete item from the top part be­fore mov­ing on,’ Katie ad­vises.

Let it out to… find pres­ence

it You may not have thought much about be the be­fore, but pres­ence could in fact key to your hap­pi­ness. ‘The con­stant search for the next “thing” that will to make us happy – but al­ways seems be just out of reach – means we are miss­ing life in the here and now,’ says Veron­ica Win­ter­bourne, mind­ful­ness The expert and pro­gramme director at you Evo­lu­tion­ar­ies. A great way to bring on back to bal­ance is to get a han­dle your thoughts. It’s es­ti­mated we have to more than 60,000 a day, yet ac­cord­ing of re­search, as many as 98 per cent on these are the same few thoughts 80 re­peat. What’s more, a stag­ger­ing per cent of those are thought to be neg­a­tive. Katie’s sug­ges­tion, ‘The Re­peat Thought List’, aims to look deeply into our own thought pro­cesses. Set a timer to go off at ran­dom points through­out the course of your day. Every time it goes off, record in your jour­nal what you were just think­ing of the about (and be hon­est!). At the end day, you’ll be able to see which thoughts you were re­peated and, looking back, of might have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing why. ‘Re­fo­cus­ing and bring­ing our at­ten­tion to this moment means we don’t miss most of our lives,’ says Veron­ica. Robert agrees: ‘J our­nal­ing forces peo­ple to ad­dress what is what hap­pen­ing right now, how it feels, mat­ters, what went well, what didn’t.’ Let it out to… cre­ate abun­dance And we’re not just talk­ing money. Far from, in fact. Jour­nal­ing to cre­ate abun­dance is ac­tu­ally all about shift­ing to our think­ing from a ‘lack’ men­tal­ity an abun­dant one. ‘Today’s gen­er­a­tion of a has grown up with­out the like­li­hood steady, sta­ble job due to glob­al­i­sa­tion and and rapid tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances the worst re­ces­sion since the 1930s,’ fact ex­plains Robert. ‘Add to the mix the only that today’s so­ci­ety is plagued not by the media and cor­po­rate mar­ket­ing be sug­gest­ing that ev­ery­one should slim, beau­ti­ful, happy and suc­cess­ful, but also count­less “friends” on Face­book post­ing ev­i­dence of their they won­der­ful lives, show­ing how well in­stils are do­ing. All of this sub­lim­i­nally be a pres­sure to suc­ceed, to thrive, to happy, to be beau­ti­ful and to be strong.’ of us It’s no won­der then that so many lack a pos­i­tive and abun­dant mind­set. One of Katie’s tools – ‘Texts from on Your­self’ – targets this. Set an alarm how your phone daily that says: ‘Hey, are you? How are you feel­ing?’ Then, your sim­ply an­swer these questions in jour­nal, tak­ing time to think deeply, that ex­press­ing grat­i­tude for the things the have gone well and free-writ­ing on of things that haven’t. ‘A deep sense self-aware­ness, I have found, is one of the true keys to hap­pi­ness and ful­fil­ment,’ says Katie.

Let it out to… heal

a From af­firm­ing a be­lief in heal­ing mind, phys­i­cal con­di­tion to calm­ing the jour­nal­ing can help cure many an Word ail­ment. Katie’s tech­nique, ‘The F- in on Throw Down’, for ex­am­ple, ze­roes us for­give­ness and how this can plague if not ad­dressed. ‘This is eas­ily the the tough­est tool in the book – but also most trans­for­ma­tional,’ she says. ‘Hold­ing on to re­sent­ment, whether to­ward your­self or oth­ers, is like drink­ing poi­son: it only hurts you.’ So how do we go about it? Katie en­cour­ages us to first of all iden­tify our re­sent­ments. Ask your­self: ‘What relationships or mem­o­ries still cause me pain or sad­ness? Who am I un­will­ing to for­give?’ Then, dig in. Write, ex­plor­ing why you’re still hold­ing these if you re­sent­ments and how it would feel a list of no longer had them. Next, cre­ate in com­pas­sion, iden­ti­fy­ing the ways which those you re­sent – even if it’s your­self – are strug­gling or suf­fer­ing and put your­self in their shoes. ‘Do­ing by this height­ens one’s sense of self to fa­cil­i­tat­ing the process of get­ting know and un­der­stand one’s own thoughts, val­ues, feel­ings and emo­tions this and to learn from them, in­vest­ing knowl­edge in cre­at­ing a bet­ter to­mor­row for one­self,’ Robert ex­plains. Let it out to… feel in ‘Most fear is ac­tu­ally un­cer­tainty and dis­guise, and to con­quer our fears reach new lev­els of suc­cess, we must right move out­side our com­fort zone – fear into the spot where un­cer­tainty and set up camp,’ ex­plains Katie. Through writ­ing, you can chan­nel these fears safely, thus open­ing your­self up to other feel­ings. Katie’s ‘Fear-quash­ing Work­sheet’ tech­nique does just this. Start by that com­plet­ing this sen­tence: ‘The fear this is stuck in my mind is...’ De­fine where fear came from, ex­plore how it makes you feel and write about it. Then, is com­plete this sen­tence: ‘This fear com­pletely fake and does not ac­tu­ally ex­ist, be­cause...’ Not only is the process of putting these thoughts onto pa­per ex­tremely ther­a­peu­tic and ben­e­fi­cial (writ­ing them down forces you to be­come make ob­jec­tive, thereby al­low­ing you to sense of them). It’s also great for your brain. ‘You are cre­at­ing new neu­ral into path­ways by bring­ing your thoughts the light of aware­ness and this will dis­solve the in­tense charge they may hold – so jour­nal­ing is def­i­nitely good for your health,’ Veron­ica adds.

Let it out to… re­veal

Nov­el­ist Paulo Coelho wrote: ‘You your will never be able to es­cape from it heart. So it’s bet­ter to lis­ten to what has to say.’ We all have thoughts, mem­o­ries and hang-ups and for most box of us, they’re sealed in a pad­locked in the back of our minds. Katie, how­ever, is en­cour­ages us to let them out. ‘This in­valu­able in dis­cov­er­ing and defin­ing one­self,’ agrees Rob. ‘It’s all about calmly ac­knowl­edg­ing thoughts, as emo­tions, feel­ings and sen­sa­tions they arise, with ac­cep­tance, and with­out judge­ment.’ Katie’s tool, ‘The Hunt-for-light-in­our The-dark’, en­cour­ages us to re­lease our self-hate reg­u­larly, writ­ing down deep­est emo­tions and thoughts in real-time. The beauty of the jour­nal? write Hon­esty. ‘We are far more likely to things that re­ally mat­ter and to be hon­est with our­selves in a jour­nal, on a rather than spin­ning our lives out pub­lic fo­rum and adding a rosy sheen,’ ex­plains Rob. Even if these thoughts seem too dark to ad­mit to another per­son, here, there are no re­straints – so get ugly. By ac­knowl­edg­ing their to pres­ence, you’re one step closer able re­leas­ing them. ‘Over time you’ll be you, to pull more and more light out of il­lu­mi­nat­ing your rea­sons to live and slowly di­min­ish­ing the dark­ness cloud­ing your life,’ says Katie.

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