Journaling…To Write or Not to Write

imagesCA38GE3VWhat happens when we assign a name to an activity that was once not formalized as more than just writing? There is a seriousness, a decisiveness attached to it that is different now. You can find journals for travel, calling out to you with the illusive guarantee of a record to be kept alongside photos, ticket stubs and other mementos of trips taken. Baby books are timelines of another journey, so precious it is impossible not to note milestones on their pages. Fill in the blanks and your diary will come alive, your thoughts preserved for future reflection…or not.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the myriad of options. After all, an abundance of stores and sites are dedicated to selling beautifully bound journals, pens and more. I should know better by now. I have shelves and drawers filled with them, gifts from friends or purchased by me, begun half-heartedly or abandoned to a newer addition. Each volume beckons with a promise of being the one that will be the keeper of my words, the container of my thoughts, the chosen one…or not.

At its best, journaling has a meditative quality. It is a peaceful activity, a grounding experience, an internal process that stops time for the moment. It is a good habit and once engaged, provides a platform for expression that is very personal. Likewise, there is no end to the self judgments that abound when not doing it in the proscribed form.

What are some other ways to get going when you are not inspired?
• Set a timer for 5 minutes and just write, sans punctuation, only stream of consciousness
• Select a single thought, object or memory and write-dig deep and just write
• Go backwards. Start with the end of your day and complete with the beginning.

If the “written” word is not the best way for you to express yourself:
• Speak or sing your thoughts into a recording device
• Draw, collage or use color in ways to convey your inner feelings
• Use music/instruments as a medium

Access your creativity in ways that support you best and perhaps intersperse one method with another. After all, it is about YOU finding YOUR voice and the best way for YOU to express yourself is changeable!

©2015 Maureen Weisner

Raiding the Fridge

imagesCA716HYZWhy are some foods more appealing late in the day? Self control or managing small temptations all day long don’t seem to be such a problem. Yes, you are busier, engaging in activities, making decisions and otherwise occupied. In fact, the typical person makes approximately 200 food related decisions in the course of a day. However, according to author Dan Ariely, “This is a well known phenomenon known as depletion. All day long we face small temptations and do our best  to resist them…We maintain control over ourselves, but our ability to resist urges is like a muscle: The more we use it, the more tired we become, until at night, it just becomes too weak to stop us.” So, out comes the ice cream or chips that you would not give a second look at earlier. What’s the alternative? Go to bed earlier? One way to overcome the problem is to keep all tempting things out of your house. Out of sight is also out of mind unless you are willing to go to extremes to satisfy a momentary lapse and find an open grocery store.

However, another perspective is that these are learned behaviors. Reaching for the cheese curls over the bicep curls may be a habit more tied to your environment than you think.  According to author/psychologist Jeremy Dean, if you eat enough chips on the couch, you will automatically associate couch time with chip time. “We see major shifts in behavior when people move to a new house.” It’s easier to change our habits in a new setting.  You don’t have to relocate to start fresh, but you do need to be aware of the cues that point you to a pint of ice cream and replace that with a healthier alternative. So, change it up. Sit in another room, limit your TV time or turn it off completely.

 Awareness of the associations and links to automatic behaviors is the first step in creating change. Add a new behavior like an evening walk or a phone call to a friend. The benefit is two-fold; you have added activities that can improve your physical and psychological well being in a relatively “pain free” and low cost manner with options limited only by your imagination.