The big day is here!
Yes, my friend, election day is today. The day we get the opportunity to decide our future, demand social equality, and be part of the process of change.
It’s been a difficult year. Not only have we been dealing with Covid-19, but we’ve been bombarded with fake news, disinformation, and the influence of sinister political turmoil left and right.
And if you’re experiencing angst, fear, or depression-We don’t blame you. We’ve all been there.
What we can do for you, though, is help you gain control of your emotions and improve your mental health through the power of journaling.
Journaling has been found to be beneficial in relieving stress, easing anxiety, reduce symptoms of depression, and so many more amazing things!
The effectiveness of this writing therapy can positively impact your physical and mental well-being, release negative emotions, and help you clear your mind.
In this episode, Lauren brings us 4 ways journaling can help you handle politics and the news. She talks about how successful people around the world use journaling as a tool to help them thrive and also shares effective journaling techniques you can use right now to manage anxiety and overwhelm.
If you haven’t listened to episode 12 where we talk about Writing as a Bridge Between Political Oppositions with Caroline Rothstein, then go back and check it out!
I want to know who you are and where you’ve been! Come hang out with me in the Writers Squad Facebook group and over on Instagram @laurenmariefleming. I can’t wait to chat with you there!
You can also stay tuned for new weekly episodes @schoolforwriters, and if you want to spread the love even further, consider subscribing, rating, and reviewing!
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Get my Free Guide to Journaling Through Difficult Times HERE!
Learn how to create the time and the space you need to write HERE!
Contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline HERE!
Book recommendation of the week:
The Artist Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
Wondering why we don’t link to Amazon? Check out Episode 2 of the Business School for Writers Podcast to hear all about how supporting independent bookstores helps you see more stories like yours out in the world.
A friend of mine from Australia messaged me the other day and asked me if the United States is really as wild and tumultuous as the media was making it out to be right now. My answer: yeah, it is.
We are facing some serious upheaval right now. It has never been easy in the United States for marginalized communities, but lately it feels like the strides we’ve made towards equity under the law have been erased, with hate crimes on the rise and police brutality going unchecked.
We are facing what many other countries, ourselves included have had to face before: a dark night of the soul.
(If you don’t know about the dark night of the soul, go back and listen to two episodes ago. It’s a great metaphor for the journey we’re all on right now.)
My friend from Australia asked me how I’m coping, and I told him the truth: I’m actually doing okay.
No, I’m not satisfied with the state of my country, yes, I am scared about COVID and this election and everything that’s going on. But I have been to hell and back. I’ve gone through a dark night of the soul before. And I know how to thrive even in the depths of despair.
No, I’m not talking about spiritual bypassing here and pretending everything is okay. I’m talking having an inexpensive and accessible way to process my thoughts and feelings.
I’m talking about journaling.
When I am feeling like the world is a dumpster fire and there is no hope for any of us. When I am feeling like there’s nothing I can do to make it better. When I am feeling like my vote doesn’t matter and my safety is at risk, I turn to my journal.
Writing my thoughts out allows me to calm down, destress, and look at a situation through a more thoughtful and helpful lens.
It allows me to turn off my fight or flight mechanism so I can stop acting from a place of fear and panic, and start taking intentional steps towards making my life and the world around it better for myself and my community.
As Caroline Rothstein said in the episode before this one journaling allows me to quote “orient my liberation on love, not fear.”
I know, it seems so easy, too easy in fact to work. But studies have shown journaling to be kind of a miracle solution. It’s like magic for the brain. Journaling has been proven to be as effective as a combination of meditation and therapy at once.
In my life, I have had the honor of hanging out with some of the most inspirational and successful humans on the planet. From Olympic athletes to movie stars, world-changing activists to grassroots organization builders, I’ve noticed one thing that continually shows up in their stories of success: writing down their thoughts and feelings on a regular basis.
Journaling helps you sort through the mess that is all of those distractions, all of those stimulants, all of other people’s opinions of what you should be or should think so you can focus down on what you want and what you truly believe.
I thought today, election day, would be a great time to share this tool with you all and show you how I use it to thrive, even during volatile political climates.
Here are four ways journaling can help you handle politics and the news – with journaling techniques you can use right now to manage anxiety and overwhelm:
- Journaling to separate what others are telling you from what you truly believe.
Fake news is rampant and everywhere you look people are pushing their agenda. Journaling is a great way to step away from what everyone else is telling you and figure out what you actually believe.
Try this: Write the name of a hot button topic or person in the middle of a piece of paper. Around that name, write everything you think about it/them. When you’ve made an exhaustive list, circle the things that are based on solid facts and/or experiences that you’ve personally had. Cross off anything that cannot be proven or is just hearsay.
Going forward, you can focus on the items that you circled and discard the items you crossed off your list.
I also sometimes put a heart next to the ones that feel like they come from love and an x next to the ones that feel like they come from fear or hate.
That helps me lead my life in a way I want to: with love taking precedent over hate.
For more on that, check out last week’s Business School for Writers podcast episode with Caroline Rothstein.
- Journaling to prioritizing where your energy should go.
It would be amazing if you could help every cause that comes across your radar, but the truth is you can’t help anything if you try to help everything. Journaling can let you focus your energy where it matters the most to you.
Try this: Make three rows on a piece of paper and title them “need,” “want,” and “can’t.” Under need, write down all the things that absolutely have to be done in your life. Under want, put the things that you would like to do. Under can’t, write the things that aren’t possible for you to do right now. This doesn’t mean you won’t ever get to those things, it’s just not something that can happen now.
Keep your need, want, and can’t list close by when deciding what to prioritize in your life.
This is actually my number one journaling tip for success and fulfillment in life. I use it in my business, my love life, my creative projects, and in my activism. It helps me prioritize where I want to put my energy and focus right now.
A little activist tip for you: I try to prioritize the causes that center and support the most marginalized people in our communities, specifically focusing on trans women of color and undocumented immigrants. That way I know my energy is going to the people who need it most right now.
- Using your journal as therapy so you can keep going.
When your rights are being attacked and you fear for your safety, survival is sometimes all you can do. A journal is no substitute for professional help, but it can be a great supplement to therapy sessions. It is a place to let go and process your past trauma, present issues, and future fears, and daily journaling is more portable, timely, and cost-efficient than booking a therapy session every day all day.
Try this: use your journal as a supplement to professional therapy sessions. Ask your therapist for writing assignments and have them help you process what comes out during your journaling. In between sessions, write down what you would tell your therapist if you were meeting together.
If things are really rough and your journal and therapy aren’t working, remember that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is always here for you, online and on the phone. I’ve had some bad days in my life when I didn’t think I should keep going. Their website helped me make it through the night. So don’t hesitate to reach out for them if you need it at SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.
- Journaling to organize your thoughts and make your voice stronger.
It’s hard to stand up for yourself and others when your thoughts are scattered and running wild around your brain. Journaling is a wonderful way of getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper where you can better organize them.
Try this: set an alarm for 15 minutes and spew everything you’re feeling out into a journal. When the alarm goes off, set it for another 15 minutes and use that time to try to organize the thoughts you just had.
Need help finding the time and space in your life to write? Check out my Write More Challenge at BusinessSchoolforWriters.com/writemore.
Those are my four best tips for using journaling to thrive no matter what the political climate. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with the state of the world, grab your journal and let it help you process your opinions, organize your thoughts, and reclaim your voice.
If you’d like more tips and tools on journaling, check out BusinessSchoolForWriters.com/journaling. There you can download my free guide to using journaling to thrive during difficult times.
You also can get weekly journaling prompts and writing tips in the Writers Squad Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/WritersSquad, or by following Business School for Writers on Instagram.
If you use these techniques, reach out and let me know. I’d love to see how they’re working for you.
So grab your journal, jot down your thoughts, then get out there and keep fighting the good fight. Because the world needs you and your story now more than ever.
Sending you love. I know we’ll all find a way to get through this together.