In our last post we looked at some simple techniques to help identify and rationalise thoughts and feelings as a way to better manage mental health. This week we continue the theme by delving a little deeper with some writing techniques for your journal that might help in taking the next important step in resolving issues that may impact mental health; sharing our feelings with friends and family.
There are two types of communication - written and verbal. We all know that it’s better to “get things off our chest” but actually achieving this can be a real journey for many of us. We don’t think twice about chatting about the weather, what we watched on TV last night or what we did over the weekend - but when it comes to sharing and discussing our feelings and emotions with others, things can be more of a challenge. However, the problem with not talking about our feelings, frustrations and anxieties is the impact the build up may have on our behaviours and how these are interpreted by others. Not many of us can hide our true feelings so if there are many things on our mind it can be easy for those around us to misread the signals which can lead to unnecessary stress when we are already feeling under pressure.
The answer, we believe, lies in using written communication as a way to prepare for, and better execute the verbal communication. Quite simply, planning what we need to say before we say it. The important thing is to be honest with ourselves so that those around us can clearly understand what we’re trying to express.
What follows is our Top 5 writing techniques to help us better prepare for these conversations with our nearest and dearest…
1. MORNING PAGES
The idea is simple; every morning write three pages of anything and everything that’s on our minds. The perfect partner to our morning coffee, even if we don’t directly share the contents with loved ones it’s a good way of recognising how we think and feel on a day-to-day basis, as well as how we want to communicate with others. A partner could even join in the process, both writing Morning Pages before reviewing together in the evening. This could enable us to better understand and help each other. For more details on this simple technique, read our previous article here.
For those of us who prefer brevity and a more creative approach, a simple brainstorm of key words and issues can help communicate this to others. This allows us to build the basis of a discussion, ensuring we don’t get lost for words, cover everything and start to resolve the source of any problems.
3. KEEP A DIARY
Simply keep a diary but make a conscious effort to note how certain situations make us feel. This can help us to see patterns in behaviour and focus on the common issues and possibly identity potential triggers.
4. TABLE IT
If you prefer a more strategic, matter-of-fact approach to problem solving then use your journal to get things down in a simple table format. For example, dedicate one column to record the item that’s on our mind, another to how it makes us feel, and another to how we plan to communicate this. The bonus here is the satisfaction of ticking each one off once it’s been resolved - resulting in a feeling on accomplishment to counter any negativity. Try filling this in at the end of each day and review it at the end of the week.
5. PICTURE PERFECT
They say a picture paints a thousand words, so for those who prefer a more visual approach this could be the answer to communicating in a different way. Why not try creating a moodboard to represent our feelings - which can then be used as a basis to talk things through with others.
Communication is vital is resolving issues in life, even if the first step isn’t itself verbal. Even if you’re sceptical any of these techniques will work for you, we encourage you to give then a try and who knows, you might be surprised.
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