I continue my newsletter with the current focus on mental health and how your mental health affects your physical health. Last week I spoke with Ruth Carter, the Liberty Coach, who works with young people, parents, schools and the community to help them to unleash their potential, to create a vision of their lives and to motivate them.
We have been hearing a lot about the mental health issues that Covid-19 has exasperated and last week’s focus was on how it affects our kids: the little humans who will very soon be the next generation of our functional society. If you are a parent and want to know what are the common problems young people and parents are facing in these strange times, please watch the interview here: https://youtu.be/-pX4C1DXVcg.
This week, I would like to touch upon a tool used for many generations by psychiatrists and psychologists equally to help those dealing with mental issues or just those wishing to clarify their thoughts or keep track of their budding memories: keeping a diary.
There are an infinite number of rituals we turn to, consciously or unconsciously, in order to help us to bring order in our often scattered and chaotic minds, but when are pushed out of our comfort zone and our rituals are interrupted by a pandemic, we panic. Psychologists around the world are faced with the current increasing numbers of depression and anxiety, especially in those people who are highly extroverted, love interacting with other individuals, are outgoing and highly depend on the world around them. For extroverted people, the stable pillar is the society: the work colleagues, friends, family – everything that comes from the outside. Therefore, it is not surprising that when all of a sudden a much more introverted lifestyle has been forced upon us, it is exactly those people who have to undergo the biggest adjustment. This external instability can lead to a sense of loss of control over life, one’s surroundings and even one’s mind and may cause a great disorder in a once ordered life.
“The brain cannot stand disorder. If there is disorder, all its’ activities will be contradictory, confused, miserable and it will bring about mischief in itself and around itself. This order is not the design of thought, the design of obedience to a principle, to authority, or to some form of imagined goodness. It is disorder in the brain that brings about conflict” – J. Krishnamurti
The bottom line is that we all need order! Either internally or externally. So how do we reestablish that order when the world around seems to be in a place of chaos? The good news is that we can do this for ourselves even without resorting to psychotherapy. The universal tool of writing and gathering our thoughts can work like a magic wand in bringing order back to our minds and often in restoring health.
If you’ve ever imagined yourself as one of those people with black leather cover notebooks sitting in a park writing, now is the time to begin. Or if you’re more a technology buff and prefer to record on a different kind of notebook (the kind you turn on and type on) or a tablet, or even your phone, that’s also possible. Actually, the sky’s the limit when it comes to gathering your thoughts. You can even record video diaries for yourself if that’s your preference.
There is something that happens when one sits down to gather one’s thoughts… The process is eye opening. When forced to think about how we wish to express our mind, it’s incredible what transpires. Even the process of how we jot down and gather our thoughts is changing in some way, helping towards resolution. It can be in a single word, a sentence, an experience we’ve had…. Keeping a diary is like conducting research into one’s being, one’s soul, its an archive of life.
The experience is expansive because not only do you find out more about yourself, the way you think and what thought patterns you face, but you expand your view of the world at large. You will begin to notice how the same problems and feelings reoccur. Opening your eyes to a particular problem, or to particular thoughts, you will realise that one and the same individual, or a thought or idea enters your mind frequently: meaning it needs more attention and to be seriously listened to.
Once that process of ordering one’s thoughts is activated, it transits from mind to your external world. You begin to pay attention and notice things more. Additionally, it has great effect on the sense of meaning of the day. This produces a similar feeling in one’s mind as to when one exercises and the positive feeling that brings to one’s body. So that sometimes it feels like no matter how the day goes by, it still was a good day because we exercised. The same fulfillment flushes through your mind after 15 minutes of writing. And above all, after a year, a few years or a decade, when you discover your diary stuck somewhere behind a box or a shelf, a warm excited feeling of self discovery and anticipation entails.
“One advantage in keeping a diary is that you become aware, with reassuring clarity of the changes which you constantly suffer . . .. In the diary you find proof that in situations which today would seem unbearable, you lived, looked around and wrote observations, that this right hand moved then as it does today, when we may be wiser because we are able to look back upon our former condition, and for that reason have got to admit the courage of our earlier striving in which we persisted even in sheer ignorance.” – Franz Kafka
If you are unsure of how to start a diary, and feel slightly awkward at that moment when gazing down at a fresh sheet of empty paper, try beginning with anything current that comes to mind: the night you had, what you ate the previous day, a discussion with friends or family or a persistent thought or issue: really whatever grabs you in the moment. The beautiful thing about writing a diary is that there are no rules and no limitations. Write your day’s plan and then check it the next morning to see how well you executed it. Try to remember something that touched you, something you felt immensely. Be it beauty, anger, jealousy, even hunger, lust, love… You only need to start and the rest will come.
Want more help on this path or to ensure that your mental health isn’t compromising your physical health, book a free 30 minute call with me here