Feeling Short-Fused? Try This Journal Exercise For Emotional Balance
Picture this: You ran around all week- catching loose ends, knocking out meetings, potty training the new puppy, and grabbing lunch when you remember it. Your shoes are giving you blisters but you don't find the time to buy new ones. It's science fair season and if the gang goes through another unsuccessful volcano eruption, you might explode instead. In the midst of the crazy daily, you notice a rollercoaster of responsive feelings. Not everything makes you want to pull your hair out though, like the laugh from that radio show on the way to work. Or your coworker remembering the way you like your coffee. Or the moment of peace in knowing that you have a home to go to at the end of the day.
We ride the wave of emotions daily, from the moment we wake to our surroundings til the last sheep you can recall is accounted for. That's what emotion is: energy in motion. Just as physical energy must be active for our bodies to receive benefits of exercise and movement, our emotions should be granted a time and place to move around. When they say, "Let it out," they aren't kidding. If your mind doesn't have a chance to calibrate, you may unknowingly carry out your feelings against the wrong people or situations. ie: Shortening your fuze with the spouse or kids after an unproductive day at work. The two are only connected because your frustration is front and center.
Of course, it's not a realistic expectation to always feel happy. 'Happy' isn't the goal, balance is. A really simple way to exercise your emotions is by tracking them. If you're already a journal keeper, you may practice daily gratitude where you write things you are grateful for every day. Some also use this time to meditate and speak to their affirmations. Recording your emotions is no different, except it works more efficiently toward the end of the day/evening. It doesn't have to be an extensive list of every single thing you felt. The idea is to be more general and allow perspective to show you patterns of behavior.
Start with your overall mood: Were you uneasy most of the day? Jolly? Calm? Sad? Whichever was the most common, write that down. Then record the day's highs and lows, the most impactful incidents. Now, take a few minutes to analyze what happens in between. Try to follow the roots of your mood(s) and find where they are feeding from. Was the day blown because you hated that assignment, or is it really because of the fight you had with your SO two days ago?
Don't forget the process is about being curious, about learning yourself. Don't just focus on the crappy stuff, reflect on what makes you feel warm and at ease. Did you have fantastic energy after getting a really good night's sleep? Did you get to work a couple minutes early and have time to prepare your workspace before the noise picked up? Again, we're looking for progress, not perfection.
It's like tidying up the emotion cabinet. This allows you to be more focused and work towards improved outcomes. With routine practice, you strengthen the knowledge of yourself, your triggers and your areas of ease, and the more you will master reactions to your environment. This one of many exercises I encourage my clients to do, and often they gain some of the most benefits in seeing a recorded transformation happening from page to page.
If you've got a favorite journal exercise, tell us about it and how it helps you in the comments below! :)