1. Dealing with old emotions – a writing exercise
When we try to suppress old emotions and memories it can impact on our physical and mental health. This writing exercise from Psychologist James Pennebaker can help you to process them in a healthy way:
Over three consecutive days find a time and place where you won’t be interrupted. Spend 20 minutes writing down your thoughts and feelings about an event or issue in your life that has deeply affected you. Write about what happened, how it affects you now, how you feel it might impact on your future and anything else you feel you want to get out on paper. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar, write only for yourself. After 20 minutes stop writing put everything away and start a new task.
Repeat the exercise over the next two days. Either write about the same issue or choose a different one. Consciously end the exercise by either destroying what you’ve written or keeping it somewhere just for yourself.
The theory behind this exercise is that when a highly emotional event happens to us our minds work overtime trying to process it. This can lead to thoughts about the experience keeping us awake at night, distracting us at work and making us more detached from others. By putting the experience into language we are making it more tangible. The brain can then process it and move it out of our working memory and into our long-term memory. This exercise has been shown to improve sleep, our immune system, our focus and connections with others.
Set time aside for meditation, try to schedule in a regular time you will use for one week to help you establish a habit. Esther Tuele has a great article about taking a Fresh Look at Meditation. Some classes you might like to try are
Freeing the body of old beliefs or Meditation on unconscious patterns.
3. Tackling To-Do lists
Are you feeling swamped by an ever-growing To-Do list? It’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed sometimes even if the tasks are things you enjoy.
Over the next couple of days book in some time just for yourself to get organised. Prioritise your tasks. What must be done today and what can you schedule for another time? Be ok about coming back to less urgent tasks later. Set specific dates in the future for tackling them. Knowing you have time set aside can help clear space in your head (and your list) and can take away some of the feeling of “I should be doing…”
Adding things to our To-Do list can sometimes just be a way for us to put off the less appealing tasks – remember rearranging your room instead of doing homework, anyone? While you might get lots of other random things done, that dreaded task is still on your mind throughout. Tackle it head on, keep your daily lists as short as possible and start with your least favourite thing!
4. Take a technology break
Spend time on your own outside in nature, whether it’s a local park or hiking up a hill. Turn off your music and your phone. Walk or sit mindfully. Really take time to soak in your environment. How does the ground feel beneath your feet? How does the air feel on your skin? What can you see, hear and smell?
5. Give yourself a holistic health check-up
Take a look at the different aspects of your health. In terms of your physical, mental, social, intellectual, environmental and spiritual health: in which areas do you feel ‘healthy’ and what would you like to change? You could give each aspect a score from 1 – 10. Write one or two things that you could do this week to help improve aspects of your health where you scored lower.