Pick up PEN AND PAPER when feeling “down” and WRITE YOUR WAY OUT OF A BAD MOOD. It actually works. There may be many scientific explanations for good emotional outcomes from WRITING, but for now, focus on the psychological impact.
A bad mood, a mild depression, a slow start to your day, your week, your weekend, often begins with what is going on in your mind…YOUR THOUGHTS exacerbate feelings and mood and eventually decision making and behavior. So getting the thoughts OUT of your head and on paper — sheds the light of day on what your thinking may be doing to you.
Sometimes SEEING the sentences like: I JUST CAN’T FACE THIS HORRIBLE DAY or I CAN’T STAND DEALING WITH _______ AT WORK …. actually takes the sting out of the mood they create — at least a little! And if you feel truly lousy, you are looking for even a little bit of relief. And the SEEING what you are thinking is the start. Continuing to allow whatever your thoughts might be to pour onto the page takes some of the bite out of them.
The first step is to simply allow your thoughts to flow onto paper. There is no attention to form, to punctuation, to sentence structure….use words that just pop into your mind; phrases; four letter words sometimes help; even draw something….just allow flow until you have nothing else coming into the foreground. It can be a few sentences, paragraphs, pages…. write until you have nothing else popping into your mind.
Next review what you’ve written and look for the words that are exaggerations, inflammatory, and simply not true. For example, HORRIBLE is likely replaced with “difficult” or maybe “challenging”…. CAN’T STAND is replaced with “I don’t want to’ or “am unclear how to do it”. At first the differences may seem insignificant; however, even the little changes in these sentences can make a big difference in how you approach a problem you anticipate….and certainly can nudge your mood, even just a little, in a more positive direction.
The PROCESS of writing is the place to start. And if the analysis is less appealing, let it go for now and just write. Most people report that getting the thoughts on paper is a relief. And sometimes you can be quite surprised by the thoughts that have been lurking in “mild unawareness” that now pop into the foreground. You might even hear yourself say: “If that’s what I’ve been thinking, no wonder I feel bad.” Years ago, a client described this process as “throwing up on paper.” And that just means it CAN be a purge…. and when we purge our minds of negative and distorted thoughts — a bit like cleaning out a closet — new space is created — a clearing is possible — insight is possible.
This is not about major changes — at least not at first. It’s about seeing how even the slightest shift in thinking, then in mood, can help you move into a challenging situation or a difficult day. It’s about seeing yourself as more capable of making changes, of being gradually more in charge of your mood….even if the shift is, at first, small.
Let thoughts flow. My experience suggests they are likely to flow more easily and more effectively with pen and paper. There’s a different connection that takes place when writing on paper vs using the computer. BUT please don’t let this suggestion of pen and paper stop you. Just write. If more structure for this process sounds useful, try my book: WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? MAYBE NOT THAT MUCH! And also explore my blogs on thought distortion. The key is to write. Give it a try. You can gain a general sense of having a better handle on what you think and what you feel….and consequently beginning to feel a little better. And you do deserve to feel better. As always, let me know if you have questions, and reach out to someone you trust if you need to talk.