I swear by my measuring spoons, cups, and food scale for helping me to lose weight, but there’s another important tool that I can’t forget: My pen.
Today I’m not talking about writing down everything I eat, though the transparency that exercise affords you is extremely valuable to keeping your eating in check. What I mean is writing about my feelings, as a help in working through why I’m engaging in emotional eating.
This past week has been rough as far as eating goes, and I’m not quite sure why. There has been some sad news in my family, but my eating abandon began in advance of that. The best I can say is that I have been having some feelings of restlessness that I can’t articulate in my mind. I intend to set aside some time to empty my thoughts on to paper, so I can better understand and better manage what I do next.
I find journaling to be helpful with processing my feelings. I don’t do it every day; only as needed. Besides writing to understand complex feelings, I also write when I’m angry or sad. Sometimes I write about the past or future, sometimes I write about what I’d say to a person I’m having issues with, and sometimes I write prayers. In addition to talking with a friend, loved one or professional, or spending time in spiritual contemplation, writing is a good way to make sure you’re not stewing within your thoughts. I’m thinking, in regards to my current situation, that after I purge my troubles with writing I’ll be able to come up with a plan to move forward–without food factoring in as a solution.
Here are some ideas I have for getting the most out of your journaling:
- Take as much time as you need. I tend to do my journaling in the wee hours of the morning, when there will be no interruptions, but find a stretch of time that works for you.
- Minimize distractions. I usually write in silence, or while listening to mellow instrumental music. I don’t like having the TV on or music with singing or rapping playing. I also don’t like to have to do this kind of work when I’m around others talking. I don’t want others’ words and thoughts to send me off on a tangent away from what I’m trying to extract from my mind.
- Don’t censor yourself. Write whatever comes to mind, no matter how angry or sad, how irrational, or how incomplete it seems. Don’t try to tell a story or control what’s going on, just let your mind have its say in as much detail as possible. Keep writing until you feel you can’t write anymore.
- Re-read. I like to re-read what I’ve written in a given writing session, in case it might remind me of another issue I need to explore while everything is fresh in my mind. I want to make sure I really expose everything that’s bothering me at the moment, so I can deal with it once and move on.
I don’t know what I’ll find out when I next sit down to journal, but I know I’ll be glad that I did it, as it will be a better alternative to clearing my head than the eating I’ve been doing.
Update: I was up at about 2 a.m. this morning, doing my journaling. I ended up returning to the mire of past hurt, and I discovered an angle I hadn’t contemplated before that impacts many areas of my life. It was a tearful writing session, but one that has offered valuable insight. I feel a little more at ease, a little more focused, and a little less in need of eating to make myself feel better during this period. By writing it out, I now have a record of the epiphany, and I can return to it any time I need a boost.