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posted by Nick Venturella
As of this writing, there is a pandemic occurring in the world. The coronavirus (or COVID-19) is wreaking havoc on families, heathcare workers, local communities and economies everywhere.
It's important to stay as healthy as you can, and that includes one's mental well-being.
Simply developing a daily journaling practice can ease anxious feelings and even promote immune health. This according to a Fast Company article that quotes leading Expressive Writing expert and psychologist Dr. James Pennebaker. [Source: Why Journaling Is Good For Your Health (And 8 Tips To Get Better) by Michael Grothaus, Fast Company Magazine]
In the article (source link above) Pennebaker shares that not only does journaling that explores the very things you may be anxious about can help lower stress, anxiety and depression, but her shares that people go to the doctor less in the months after starting a regular expressive writing habit.
Writing down the things you're grateful for is also helpful to maintain one's positive mindset.
So in these current, "work-from-home" days of the COVID-19 pandemic it can easily becoming isolating, which can add to already high anxiety. Be sure to help your mental well-being by writing regularly about what bothers you. Get it out of your brain and release it. You'll feel better.
But also be sure to regularly write down specific things you're grateful for as that will help keep your brain leaning towards a positive mindset.
Setting a goal and writing in a journal everyday about what actions you're taking to reach that goal is a great way to trick yourself into a daily journaling habit.
Often what happens as you begin to write about the daily actions you're taking to reach your goal, you'll also write about the things that bother you, or make you anxious, and I would encourage you to remember to write about the victories and things you're thankful for. If you can do that for even a couple of weeks consecutively, I'm willing to bet you'll feel more mental clarity.
To help, here is a free PDF goal-setting / journaling ebook to get you motivated.
Many gig economy workers need work/income right now. If that's you and you have some marketable skills you can set up a Fiverr profile to find digital freelance work.
Or if you need the services of freelancers, help them out and find who you need on Fiverr
Post by: Nick Venturella
Journaling has real, physical and mental health benefits, according to Michael Grothaus’ article published in Fast Company Magazine (2015), “Why Journaling is Good for Your Health (And 8 Tips to Get Better).”
The article featured Dr. James Pennebaker, a psychologist and leading expert in the field of Expressive Writing (EW), which is a specific type of journaling.
The article identifies that journaling can strengthen immune cells (for science folks these are T-lymphocytes) and has been associated with decreases in depressive behaviors, anxiety as well as increases in positive mood, social engagement and improvement in the quality of close relationships.
Inspired by this, I began examining my own journal writing habits to determine why I personally found it useful toward my own goal achievement and overall mood.
It turns out there is a ton of research on growth mindset, optimism, and journaling self-care benefits:
The point is there is evidence that taking, even a little bit of, time each day to self-reflect and put to pen to paper can improve your life.
There are three main components of the GrowLoop Journal
Ideally, the more you use the journal to develop the daily habit of expressing your thoughts and completing the prompts, you increase your likelihood of being more engaged, productive, confident and optimistic, which positions you for success and better equips you to overcome challenges and obstacles that might otherwise derail you.
For each prompt you complete each day you’ll get a score. Then based on your score and mood you’ll rate your happiness in the Happiness Tracker within the journal using a green, yellow, red system (green = good, yellow = okay, red = not good).
Over time you can see trends related to how your daily writing, completing the prompts, and taking action towards your goals is affecting your mood. (The visual of using actual Green, Yellow and Red colors to fill in these boxes – vs. just writing in the letter that represents the color – allows these trends to stand out easier, in my opinion.)
The Happiness Tracker is a summary over time of how your journaling practice and goal pursuit is making you feel, and the Goal pages in the front of the journal, along with your documented monthly achievement summaries, shows your progress toward meeting your goals.
The more you take action to accomplish your goals, the more likely you’ll be happier with a positive outlook, and vice versa, the better you feel about yourself and your mood, the more likely you’ll take the necessary actions to achieve your goals.
"I've been using the GrowLoop Journal...and it's been a transformative experience...I wanted to purchase a few copies for my team members at CultureCon."
--Zach Blumenfeld | Co-Founder | CultureCon LLC
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Posted by: Nick Venturella
I was recently at an advocate marketing industry conference (Advocamp) where I saw David Spinks, CEO of CMX Media speak. He outlined some major trends and research around how isolation is more prevalent these days even though we are more connected than ever with the Internet.
The stats were astonishing. Loneliness has been proven to be as detrimental to an individual’s health as smoking or obesity. I personally related as being an isolated remote worker contributing to those statistics.
Isolation and mental health is not a new issue, but it's gaining more exposure lately, which is a good step toward improving it.
Even, marketer/entrepreneur extraordinaire, Gary Vaynerchuk, said, “Mental health needs to be the number one thing we talk about over the next 20 years. Mental Health is something we need to put on a pedestal and really start talking about…if you’re brain’s not right, nothing else is gonna work.” (check out DailyVee episode 341).
I have spent the better part of the last two years working remotely from my home.
While I love the autonomy of working the way I do I have found that the isolation, even though I talk to people via phone and online all day, is intense when not occupying the same physical space as other human beings.
This was making me irritable, obsessed about little things around the house being in the right place, and it was making me depressed, all of which was affecting my own well-being as well as my family's.
Today, I'm in a better place. Balance is key. I still work remotely. I am actually enjoying it more than ever, but there are some things I figured out that helped me turn the corner toward a more positive mindset to make working remotely work for me.
Being a creative professional, I often write in a journal to hone my craft, capture ideas, work out strategies for projects as well as distill my emotions.
At this point in my life, I have been journaling for nearly two decades and have multiple volumes of journals collected for posterity. Although I wasn't always journaling daily or specifically touching on things in my writing to purposely help improve my mindset, I did notice that in my spurts of regular writing through the years it often helped improve my mood. It was and is cathartic to get things out of my head and onto paper.
More recently I had come across a few articles that each mentioned James Pennebaker's research on the effects of expressive writing and keeping a journal.
The simple act of having a daily writing practice to allow one to reflect on what they've experienced and how they felt and how that kind of writing can improve one's mood, mindset and even immune health was inspiring to me.
This made me think of being more purposeful with my own journaling to improve my mental health as I continue to work from home. Eventually, I created a journaling framework to do just that.
It started out as a personal journaling system just for me, but I realized that maybe others could benefit from it as well.
Along with wanting to identify goals and track progress over time towards meeting those goals, I wanted to incorporate into my daily writing things that would help improve my mood beyond just the act of writing itself.
I found that identifying things I was grateful for as well as victories I accomplished towards my goals and acts of kindness that I had performed no matter how large or small served as a conscious reminder of good and positive things in my life that reflected my values and more of the way I wanted to live.
Over a short period of time this approach began to change my mindset and my mood. I felt like I had more energy, was more positive with my family and had a better outlook on each day.
That’s when I thought of a way to work into the framework of short daily prompts, a scoring system that easily allows one to track their color-coded mood (red, yellow, green) over time and identify trends of how they’re feeling to be informed and potentially change up daily habits, or continue daily habits that are working, to positively affect one’s overall mood.
This solution is a simple, low-tech, high-result journal called the GrowLoop Journal that can potentially increase one’s productivity and health for less than $20.
I’m not saying it’s the only, or even the best solution, but it’s an extremely affordable place to start for those in creative fields, those who work remotely and are fighting isolation, those who wish to reduce their anxiety and stress, or even professionals looking to up their game (when in a positive state of mind, it’s easier to achieve success).
I can see not only individuals using this, but entire work teams who are striving for a more positive company culture promoting health (physical and mental) as well as productivity and personal/professional development…essentially humans trying to be better humans.
This journaling system, along with some needed time spent among other working humans in a coffee shop, has helped to improve my mood and productivity.