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6 Ways writing things down will change your life

6 Ways Writing things down will change your life blog

You don’t have to be a mind reader to know that I am an advocate for the power of writing.

Over the years writing has helped me in so many ways; to stay organised, to remember things, to process difficult feelings and so much more. I write every day. Sometimes it may just be a couple of lines and others it is pages and pages. Like everyone my days are varied and I don’t really have a daily routine so some days I have more time to write than others, but even on the busiest day, I find time to write. 

Why is it so important to me? Well, hopefully once you have read this post you will understand. It grounds me, reminds me and helps me to figure out what is going on in my life. But it is even more than that. Here are the top 6 ways I have found writing has changed my life.

1. Writing helps me remember things

I genuinely don’t know where I would be without my diary, range of notebooks and my to do lists. If I need to remember something I write it down. Not only does that help me to remember whatever it is I have written down, it frees up space in my head for other thoughts. If you don’t make a note of things you need to remember your brain has to keep hold of it and that stops you from being able to process other thoughts, which might be more useful and relevant to your day. If you need to remember something, write it down. It allows your brain to process that information and you often remember it better anyway as it moves to a different part of your memory once it is written down.

2. It creates a record 

Many people keep a diary. Whether it is of upcoming appointments or a record of their day, this is a great way to keep track of what you have done and when. My Dad has kept a daily diary for almost 50 years, and while we may occasionally rib him for it, the number of times he is able to go back and pin point an event for us is incredible. As a result I now keep a simple diary myself in the hope that once day I will be able to do the same for myself and my children.

3. It allows you to process difficult emotions

When you talk things through with a friend or loved one you often have a-ha moments and realisations which would otherwise have remained buried. The same thing happens when you write about an issue. It is also easier to write about really difficult issues than it is to talk about them, which is why traditionally we write or text someone when we have something really difficult to say. Writing it down to yourself allows you to go through the same process though.

4. It gives you insight

When you write things down you access different parts of your brains to when you talk. This allows you to gain deep insights into how you are feeling and discover things about yourself that you may have been totally unaware of until that moment.   Journaling using a prompt can give you solutions to situations you have been struggling work through. By writing and keeping writing when we believe we have nothing more to say, we can often unearth some really deep insights.

change

5. It gives you a sense of achievement

When you write things down consistently over time, you can look back and really see how much progress you have made. It is so easy to think that we haven’t achieved anything, yet in reality we are all learning and growing every single day. Writing things down is a wonderful way to chart that progress and help you acknowledge how much you have really progressed.

6. It helps you commit to things

When you write something down you are much more likely to achieve it or work towards it. If you tell someone you are going to do something, you have committed to it and are more likely to follow through. Likewise if you write a goal or a task down, you have made yourself accountable and you are much more likely to succeed. Research shows that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down every day. If you want to achieve something grab a pen and paper, whether it is weight loss, promotion or your dream partner, get writing.

Have I convinced you yet?

A daily writing habit has been a game changer for me. I started many years ago and I know that it has helped me to deal with mental health issues, it has helped me to process grief and to heal relationships. It allows me to see my personal development and my professional growth and it gives me a wonderful record of myself in a time capsule. I can look back and discover how I was feeling the night I discovered I was pregnant with my children or how I felt when my Grandma died. I feel very honoured to have this ability, after all, not everyone can write. 773 million adults globally are illiterate.  Even in the UK over 7 million people are described as having poor literacy skills.

I would love to live in a world where everyone had access to books and writing equipment. Where every child was taught to read and write and appreciate the gift that that is. It would make me so happy to know that everyone in the world could benefit from the power of writing the way I have over the years.

If you are reading this, you are one of the lucky ones. Be thankful for your abilities, and take them to the next level with a daily writing habit. If you don’t know how, get in touch or sign up for my newsletter. I include writing prompts and tips and tricks every week to help you become a confident, contented writer. Just complete the form at the bottom of the page.

Find out more about the importance of writing every day:

Why you should write daily

The power of handwriting

 

What are your priorities?

Priorities

Priorities can be a controversial subject…

One person’s priorities, may not be important to another person. We all have things that we make time for, or put first, and our priorities may change many times in a lifetime. 

Recently I have been thinking a lot about priorities and making the right choice over the easy choice. I have made some big changes in my business because it is important to me to be doing what feels right, not necessarily what is easy. There are many things I can do easily, but if I’m not enjoying doing them, then the quality of my life is going to be less than perfect. Quality of life is important to me. It doesn’t matter to me how successful I am if I am unhappy or my loved ones don’t see me. One of those choices is making my family a priority, it always has been.

The last few months have been challenging for my little family, this might be an understatement.

I’ll give you a glipse into the last six weeks: 

  • Covid finally caught up with us at Easter and it took us a while to recover (truthfully I think we still are).
  • My father in law had a stroke. Not a serious one, thankfully but it shook us all up and as my husband works with his Dad, this has caused work stress as well as family worries for him.
  • My daughter is due to start her A levels next week, which would be stressful enough but she was disgnoased with anaemia last week and then started with tonsillitis at the weekend.
  • My son is worrying about his position in his football team and has a few friendship issues.
  • We have had difficult news about a close family friend who is now in end of life care.

This is just the edited highlights (lowlights might be more accurate!). To say it has been an emotionally charged few months would be an understatement. But my priority is always, and has always been, family and loved ones.

I read so much about the importance of consistency in business, and I know that it is important. When you post on social media regularly, blog every week, send out regular newsletters etc that is how your business grows. 

However, I also know that I wouldn’t be being true to myself and my values if I didn’t occasionally have to put my family first. I would not be able to feel good about myself if my business was thriving but my family was falling apart. 

Light at the end of the tunnel

Life is like this sometimes isn’t it? We all go through times when we wonder what else life can throw at us, but we get through it eventually. Sometimes it takes linger than others, but nothing is forever.

I am making sure that I am looking after my own wellbeing and upping my vitamins and self care, because at the moment I feel like the glue that is keeping everything together and functioning.

light at the end of the tunnel

This isn’t a role that is new to me, I cast myself willingly. I am a carer, I can’t help it. I’m good at it too, I would never have said that out loud a few years ago, but I am. You see I care deeply about people. Whether it is a a family member, good friend or client, once I commit to supporting someone they get me 100%. 

For the last few weeks I have been doing essential work and fitting that around the needs of my family. My family have come first though. Fortunately I haven’t had to cancel any meetings or appointments, but if I had to I know my clients would understand because part of the reason they chose me is because of my values, my priorities. I would find it hard to work with people who didn’t understand that sometimes our family commitments have to take priority. 

Your priorities make you who you are!

 

Don’t get me wrong, when I commit to working with you, I will move heaven and earth to be there to support you, not just during our sessions either. But I will do the same for my family and friends and sometimes that might mean I don’t get chance to post on social media for a few days. It might mean that I have to postpone our appointment, only if it is absolutely essential, but I will do it. Equally if something comes up at last minute that is a priority for you, I will be understanding.

This too shall pass

When this emotionally charged time is over, I will be back to dividing my focus between family, work and everything else that is important to me. But for now, my family need slightly more attention than usual, and I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t acknowledge that and make the necessary changes. I am so grateful that my business allows me the flexibility to juggle some jobs to weekends or evenings, or whenever I need to, in order to be there for my loved ones. 

Don’t worry, my physical and mental health is one of my top priorities too, so I am looking after myself as well as caring for everyone else. 

When I work with a professional I look for people with similar values to me. If I have a meeting with someone and they don’t turn up, no email, no call, nothing and when I finally hear from them it is because their child was taken ill and they had to take them to hospital, or their mum had a fall, their best friend’s husband left them last night or even their dog was taken ill, I would respect them even more for having priorities that align with mine. It is so easy to feel annoyed when we are inconvenienced by others, but everyone is human, with crises, emergencies and life events that are unpredictable.

What are your priorities? Do you have more or less respect for someone who puts their loved ones first?

How can journaling help with exam stress?

Journaling for exam stress blog

Sitting an exam is incredibly stressful for most people.

Our fight, flight or freeze response can kick in just at the mention of exams and it doesn’t seem to matter how capable we are they send a wave of sickness and fear through us. 

This week is SATs week here in the UK (exams for 7 and 11 year olds) then we are straight into GCSE and A level season. As a teacher I have been on both sides of this horror, believe me it can be just as nerve wracking for the teachers as it is for the students.

How can journaling help? Surely that’s just more writing and there’s enough of that during your exams!

Well, yes, it is writing but it is a very different type of writing. It isn’t essays and long questions, it is free and it allows us to process how we are feeling. We may even solve problems during journaling.

When we journal we actually relax the part of our brain that we need to engage during exams and other forms of writing. We don’t worry about grammar, sentence structure or even spelling, we just allow the words to spill out onto the page. 

By sitting down and allowing the words to just flow onto the page we allow our unconscious brain to process things that our conscious mind can’t. It reduces the tendency towards negative thoughts, which is perhaps the biggest issue during exams, you convince yourself that it isn’t going to go well and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. When you acknowledge your worries and write them down, your brain is able to move on from that fear. In the same way, when we write down our shopping list we are able to stop repeating what we need over and over. 

Want to improve your results? Journal!

When we write about our anxieties and worries, they are automatically eased, in the same way our troubles seem less when we talk to someone. There is so much evidence now though journaling improves mental health, and even physical health (both of which we need to be successful in exams).

Researchers at the University of Chicago found that students who journalled for just ten minutes before an exam, about what was worrying them, improved their results by a whole grade. This is poweful stuff.

 

change

Imagine the different it could make if you allowed yourself ten minutes every day to journal about how you are feeling about your exams. 

Journaling can also help you to stay organised during your exams. You can use your journal to write down things you need to remember to take with you, topics you need to revise and much more. It really is an invaluable tool for all students.

Are you going to take up the journal challenge this exam season? Why would you not want to improve your grades and feel more calm? Just ten minutes a day, you definitely spend more time than that scrolling social media.

Let me know if you do give journaling a go and how it made you feel. 

 

Here are some prompts to get you started:

The thing that worries me about this exam is…

What I am really good at is…

I’m most worried that…

When my exams are over I will…

 

 

Why do you read?

Read

There are so many reasons to read.

We read the instructions on a food packet, the subtitles on a foreign language film, our friends’ social media posts, blogs, newspaper articles, books, magazines… the list is almost endless. 

From the moment we wake up we start reading. 

We read for such a wide range of purposes. Reading helps us to find out how to do things, like the instructions on food packets or an instruction manual. It might educate us about something, in the case of a blog post or newspaper article. We are able to learn about other people through their social media posts or a letter in the post – remember those? We are able to get information from someone we haven’t seen, when we get a note in our child’s school bag from their teacher. There are so many reasons to read.

 

When it comes to books though there are two main reasons most people read a book:

  • to learn something 
  • to experience things you may not be able to otherwise

Did you know there are many other benefits to reading though?

Reading can:

  • improve your vocabulary
  • reduce stress
  • improve brain function
  • help prevents dementia and alzheimers
  • improve your ability to focus
  • improve your general knowledge
  • encourage empathy
  • make you feel more positive
  • help you sleep better
  • improve memory
  • increase your problem solving ability
  • make you a better writer
  • expand your imagination
  • help you escape the stresses of every day life

Of course many of these benefits are associated with reading books, reading a blog on your phone, for example, probably won’t help you sleep. Reading the instructions on a food packets tends to make me think my memory is going rather than improving, if the number of times I have to fish one out of the bin to double check what I have just read is anything to go by!

The question of memory is an interesting one. I’m sure I’m not the only one who can read a book, really enjoy it, but not be able to remember very much about it at all within a matter of months, weeks sometimes!

reading

Does it matter if you can’t remember what your read?

I think the problem is that I have read a lot of books over the years. In the same way I can’t always remember what a film is about, even though I know I’ve seen it. I can’t always remember what happens in a book either. Like most people my memory has sections. I prioritise what I remember. I will remember parents evenings, medical appointments but not often what channel my favourite tv programme is on. I think this is fairly normal. After all, there is a lot to remember in an average day. 

Relax and unwind

Reading definitely helps me sleep…

I do know that reading before bed helps me to sleep though. It also helps me feel much more calm. If I don’t read for a few days I can feel it in my body.

As a parent and ex-teacher, I have also seen first hand, many times, that avid readers have better vocabulary, wider imaginations, write better and spell more accurately. Encouraging children to read is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.

 

Why do you read?

Just stop and think about all the things you have read in the last few days and why you were reading them. I’m sure there will be many reasons you have used reading, including reading this now! Now imagine how different your life would be if you were unable to read or had never been taught to read. This is the reality for many adults in the world. According to the Literacy Trust 16% of adults have poor literacy levels in the UK. According to UNESCO, globally 773 million adults are illiterate globally. That’s a lot of people who are unable to access all the benefits we have already discussed. Take a moment to appreciate your ability to read, whatever reasons you choose to read. Appreciate the person who taught you to read and gave you a passion for words. Reading is a wonderful gift, whether you can remember what happened in that book you read last year, or not. 

Find out more about the benefits of reading:

Benefits of Reading Books

The Power of Story

Your Journal; best friend and therapist

journal

Your journal can serve so many purposes. Do you know how to get the best from your journal time though?

There is much talk about journaling these days. There is no doubt that getting my first journal was a life changing moment for me, but what is all the fuss about? Surely it’s just a fancy name for a notebook or diary.

Well, firstly keeping a journal isn’t the same as keeping a diary. A diary is somewhere to record what you have been doing and a journal is so much more than that.

If you haven’t tried journaling, or you have tried it but not really managed to get into it, you might be wondering what the big deal is, but let me tell you, the possibilities are endless and the benefits, numerous.

What are the benefits of journaling?

Journaling has many benefits, both physical and mental. When you journal you access parts of your brain that most people don’t tap into when they are writing. You are able to discover things about yourself that you haven’t been consciously aware of before. You can work through issues, or problems, in a safe space, without judgment.

It is also proven that journaling boosts your immune system and helps you heal quicker from physical injuries. Mind blowing isn’t it? Just by writing for a few minutes every day you could be physically healthier.

Your best friend

When you take the time to sit and write in your journal you can really work through how you feel about a situation or plan without any judgment. It is like sitting chatting to your best friend. You may find that what you write isn’t always what you expected. You might see ideas appear on the page that you hadn’t considered and completely change your mind about something as you debate with yourself the benefits or pitfalls of a situation.

journaling

You might think that as it is only you writing and working through a challenge, that you will always write whatever you want to believe. When you are true to yourself though and practise journaling regularly, you will begin to see other options appearing on the page that you hadn’t previously considered. When we journal we can access our unconscious thoughts as well as our conscious mind. 

The important thing is not to filter what you are writing. Write freely and without worrying about spelling, grammar or content. Just keep writing. If you run out of things to say keep writing something until you think of something else to say. 

therapist

The cheapest therapy you will ever experience…

When you visit a therapist or counsellor, much of the time will be spent with you talking and them listening. This is exactly what you can do in your journal. 

I’m not suggesting that solo journaling is a replacement for therapy, there is still a need for a good therapist at times, but for minor issues a journal is a good starting point. You may even work through a situation enough to get some resolution. Even for bigger issues which do require professional help journaling can be a good starting point for the healing process.

 

When you journal you are able to be more objective about a situation because you feel slightly detached from what you are writing about. It often feels as though you are writing a story about someone else. Provided you feel safe in the knowledge that no-one is going to read what you write without your permission, you can write freely and get any frustration and anger out in the open. You are able to go through all the possibilities in a safe, theoretical way. Often just the process of writing something down allows us to understand it better.

So the next time you feel as though you need to talk something through but you don’t know who to trust. Or perhaps you have a problem that you can’t find a satisfactory solution to, pick up a pen and paper and write it out until it clicks into place or at least starts to. You might be surprised by what you discover when you start to journal regularly. It has been a life changing habit for me. I journal almsot every day. It has helped me with personal challenges, health issues, and business decisions over the years. Give it a go, what have you got to lose?

writing

If you feel that you would like support or guidance with your journal practice, why not join A little word told me…? This wonderfully supportive group is a great place to experiment with journaling and I am on hand to answer any questions and support you as well as providing prompts every week and giving you a dose of inspiration to help you keep writing. Wherever you are in the world you can benefit from this nurturing journaling membership. I would love you to join us.

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