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Journaling: better than Prozac?

I’m very happy to see an increase in articles, websites and books focusing on mood improvement through (I’m going to lump them together here) “the arts.”  It seems like the media has inundated us with the importance of exercise and mood.  “Feeling stuck?  Go for a run!  Running releases endorphins and your depression will melt away” the articles scream.  But for those who aren’t inclined to jump on a treadmill or swim laps, the arts provides an alternative mood lift. An equally gratifying and healing event.

Improving mood through writing

A Huffington Post article explores a variety of “arty” things to do when you’re stuck.  And that’s just what depression and anxiety boil down to: being stuck.  With depression everything seems overwhelming and upsetting and it’s just darn easier to lay in bed and wallow. With anxiety your minds spins and spins so fast, you can’t get a single thing completed.   Tell anyone who is depressed to slow down and do yoga or meditate is like asking someone to drive a stake through their hand – painful and “ain’t gonna happen.”

So clever people have come up with tools that “stuck” people can use to be unstuck. (Ps. Unstuck also happens to be a really great book about depression.)Being unstuck means being able to flow through life, riding over the hurdles with ease.

Today I was feeling a little stuck and hormonal, so I tried a new site that encourages journaling.  Being a super nerd, I had waded through the studies on journaling and it’s impact on your mood and immune system. So I signed up on and started typing away. I have always liked writing, so initially it was easy.  But then I hit a wall.  My monkey mind was thinking and anticipating the things I needed to do today.  I used an old journalism trick and typed whatever came to mind: “thirsty. I am so thirsty. How much longer do I have to do this?  Did I mention I am thirsty? Water.”  So the “trick” is to just let whatever comes into your mind pour out onto the paper, er, screen. And as usual, it worked and another enlightening paragraph came out of me.   The cool thing about 750words is the pretty stats they provide at the end of each session:

Wow!  I wasn’t as distracted as I thought!  Seeing how quickly I was able to immerse myself into the writing challenge, and how I stayed focused prompted me to get a lot of things done on my daily To Do list.   Moreover, it helped me understand what my emotions were at the time and my concerns:

So whether you choose to draw, doodle, write, run, dance, sing or howl at the moon, know that living a joy-filled life is of your OWN choosing.  It’s all about finding what works for you.

And for that special reader who’s clicked all of my links in this article, and devoured the articles as I have, you’ll enjoy my special little nod to poets.

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