The days lose their names ("Is it Tuesday? Or Thursday?"). The alarm is getting heavier and heavier. Traffic takes years off our lives. "Tomorrow I train", "Tomorrow I call that person", "Next month I take a vacation."
Too many of us normalize our own exhaustion (and, consequently, that of others) without knowing how we got from last year's Christmas to this one - or how we got home. At the end of the day, we take it out on the dog, the burnt dinner, our people, and get even more upset at our lack of control - as if adding guilt to the (ultimately so natural) anger we feel. But where does this anger come from, anyway? From traffic, which triggers all our claustrophobia? From work, from people? The deadline that looms like a nightmare?
At the same time, there is little time to nurture what excites and heals us.
One day, we find ourselves surprised that the simplest things are a source of gigantic irritation - but we arrive everywhere with a forced smile. We switch on autopilot and carry on, ignoring everything that might be "too much" inside. It is, after all, undeniable that we are a product of what we feel and think - even what we try to hide.
Somewhere, from someone, the question comes: "Have you ever tried writing about that?"
"Writing a diary? Wasn't that something we did as teenagers? Do I write thoughts or memories? The reflection of the day, or the week? Is it to feel better? Is it to be creative? Or to write without rules or reasons?"
Yes, that's it. Journaling - also known as "therapeutic writing" or "reflective writing" - is the practice of writing regularly, involving the expression of thoughts, feelings, experiences and personal reflections. Ranging from a simple description of everyday life to the exploration of deep emotions, personal goals, gratitude and self-knowledge, journaling is a powerful and well-known ally in the area of mental health and well-being.
My personal journey with journaling has invariably contributed to my evolution. Expressing negative emotions openly on paper has given me the opportunity to explore their origins. Gradually, increasingly and continuously, I was able to better understand why certain situations or reactions that would be innocuous to others would cause me extreme discomfort. This exercise in self-analysis was crucial to finding constructive solutions and learning to deal with challenges in a healthier way.
Let's not kid ourselves - access to therapy is necessary, urgent and irreplaceable, as well as prioritizing family, friends, and physical health.
But we live in a world where asking for help is still considered inconvenient, to say the least, and where not all of us have the resources or emotional support to make that decision. What's more, we're surrounded by platforms whose purpose is communication and entertainment - without our own ability to express ourselves having improved. Worse still - what about the time?
Yes, anger, fear and anguish exist in our minds and souls. Sometimes daily feelings, but highly inconvenient in the face of the need for high daily productivity. With numbness being a more painless escape, reels and tik-toks become the break between meetings, the head on the pillow and coffee in the morning. Who hasn't?
Not feeling the frustration of yet another failed project or the weight of a memory triggered by an innocent incident doesn't make us more productive. It does make us numb and empty of identity. It, therefore, prevents courage and adrenaline from fading.
On the other hand, the artificial optimism that is often fed in the name of forced collective well-being could possibly cement the inadequacy and ignorance of some brilliant minds.
To experience the negative is, in its entirety, courage. And courage is a muscle. And that's what families, companies, and ideas need. If we don't feel, we don't care. If we don't care, we don't move forward. And we don't contribute with our best.
In the same line,journaling can also be an effective tool for solving problems and making decisions. By writing about a challenge or dilemma, the analysis will be more objective and rational, allowing for the creation of possible solutions.
At the same time, journaling has proved to be a valuable aid in developing resilience, discipline, and empathy. In different periods of my life, particularly challenging or gray, those lines in the notebook were meant to discover moments of beauty, reasons for gratitude. It's not always easy, and we often stand still, pencil in hand, for no apparent reason. These are terrifying - but necessary - seconds (or minutes).
"How do I start?"
"My colleague noticed I was tired. She brought me coffee. It prevented a crying fit that would have ruined the rest of my day."
"We're all exhausted at the office. But we feel more united."
It's through this habit that our brains are reprogrammed, that we discover more moments and more reasons, thus fostering our capacity for resilience, for mutual help, for seeing the color that has always existed beyond the gray lens that we've allowed to remain.
"But I don't write very well."
The late, great Sir Ken Robinson used to say that "Creativity is as important as literacy, as we should treat it as such".Drawing without rules, dancing like nobody's watching, and writing just because I feel like it.
We can and should take art further if we so wish, but keeping creative tools in our lives - without the ambition of making them profitable - is crucial for our personal, academic, and professional growth.
Although it is closely associated with mental health and well-being, daily or weekly writing can be adapted and transformed, not only by where we are but also by where we want to be in the future.
It is irrefutable that gratitude exercises help to develop resilience and reduce anxiety; there are countless studies and articles in the field of psychotherapy that prove this.
What if we made a list of the good ideas we had that day or that week, regardless of whether we put them into practice? Won't that work on your ability to develop solutions?
If, during lunchtime, we write about what we admire in our colleague, in our leader, won't that serve as an impetus for the rest of the day?
If we start by taking five minutes to write down whatever good or bad comes out of our minds (freeing ourselves from grammar rules and preconceived ideas), isn't that at least an intentional and conscious way of starting the day with ourselves?
This is all in addition to the very obvious - stimulating our cognition, critical thinking and reflection. Just start every day with "What if...?"
One of my most cherished goals is to promote the benefits that journaling can bring. I've had the privilege of discovering that, no matter how barren our minds may seem, it's never the end. It's always emotion, it's always art, it's always a new chapter - as Nina Simone used to sing.
Journaling isn't just a therapeutic and creative practice - it's a subtly transformative tool. If we recognize the value of the word in academic, scientific and even entertainment circles, we shouldn't underestimate it as a catalyst for personal change. It is one of the most useful tools for a clear mind, and therefore a more balanced life with more precise thoughts and steps. In addition, if putting memories and experiences down on paper leads to reflection and pattern recognition - this will undoubtedly make us better people, colleagues, and leaders.
In the same way that physical exercise and nutrition are the standard for preserving and strengthening our bodies, we must also give priority to what can boost our creativity and self-knowledge; not just for ourselves, but for the environment around us and for what we want to be, accomplish and contribute.
Creativity allows us to come up with solutions, bring projects to fruition and make the future a reality. Self-knowledge brings us, among other gifts, empathy, insight, and communication agility.
Wouldn't we all be better colleagues, better professionals, better people, if we developed these inherently human traits?