Sunday, November 7, 2010

Reflection.

Through this project, I’ve learned that managing stress is a really difficult task to tackle. There is no set way that works— as seen by my first failed meditating, my journaling, and then a renewal of meditation— and it is really a day by day thing. I started the project thinking that stress levels were easy to control, that I just wasn’t taking the right precautions, and it would all be quickly solved. How wrong I was—stress levels depend on what happen each day (or over a period of time, depending on big projects, etc) and managing stress is about learning to think through things before freaking out and about learning to clear your head when you’re troubled. There’s no way to prevent things from happening to you, you have to prevent your overreactions!

Elizabeth Scott in The Benefits of Journaling for Stress Management writes that “Journaling allows people to clarify their thoughts and feelings, thereby gaining valuable self-knowledge” and that it “helps one process [events] by fully exploring and releasing the emotions involved… allowing the experience to become fully integrated in one’s mind.” After this project, I completely agree with these statements. Journaling in itself isn’t some magical way to clear all your troubles; it’s the reflection of your problems that helps relax yourself. My problem going into the OLE was that I had a fixed mindset—I believed that it would be very straightforward and that could help myself by a simple formula. Instead, I changed my views to a growth mindset—I had to pay attention to my own needs and my own feedback to truly understand how to gain “valuable self-knowledge”.

Looking at my journal, I’ve realized some trends and correlations between my writing and stress levels. On the days in which I did not face too much trouble (and was therefore less stressed), I wrote a lot less and the whole entry had a lot less self-berating, and a more hopeful and thankful tone. On the days that I was stressed however, multiple pages were filled, there were lots of capitalized words, and each page was much more indented by my handwriting—proof of the emotion and stress behind the rants. There were also days in which I was stressed for no reason or had no want to write down my feelings, and so there were also pages filled with doodles that I have found are extremely cathartic to me (as I love art). Looking at the correlation between my journal writings and my blog data-journal, I’ve found that these exercises really have helped me become a better managed person. Every week I would make another discovery about myself and I how I take care of myself like on Day 24 where I wrote “I know it's really difficult to keep a smile on the entire day (and it shouldn't be there if it's not genuine!) but if you look at life like a Pollyanna, and take joy in more things, it's much easier to have a lower stress level. Maybe it's lower expectations, but maybe it's just learning to be happier with what you have.” Looking back at this observation, I realized that I have come a long way from the beginning of the OLE project where I was struggling to figure out what I needed to stay calm. Back then I was trying meditation and it alone just wasn’t working for me—I would get distracted and I would still have the burdens of my stresses. Moving further along in the project, I started up journaling instead, which was a really helpful way for me to analyze my problems and just vent about them. As I felt more and more confident about myself through journaling, I began to meditate and doodle in addition to my journaling—all of which helped relieve stress after I had examined the roots of my unhappiness.

The ending of this OLE project will definitely not stop me from journaling. I take my journal everywhere I go (whether it is in my backpack or purse) because I never know when I might need to take a minute and write down my emotions at a certain time. All in all, I am so incredibly grateful for this learning experience—I learned so much about how I think and react as a person and how I can use my knowledge of my personality to keep myself in better health.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 42.

Today's my last day journaling about my journaling/meditation/doodling experience, but it's certainly not the last time I will do those things. This OLE project has helped me learn so much about myself, and I'm so grateful that- even though I'm constantly stressed- I can learn to deal with that stress and know that these stressors aren't the most important things in life.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Day 39.

Today my journal was just about how grateful I am for my family.
Today's my brother's birthday, and although we had orchestra rehearsal, we all just took the time to show how much we love each other, and that really means a lot to me. This journal not only is written completely with stress and pressure, it's also a reminder to me of my family and nice things in life and things that I try to keep in mind every day.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 38.

Journaling was accompanied by meditation again today.
Sometimes when I get headaches from too much work, or just need a break from the non-stop busy of the day, I find that meditation is really helpful. It helps me center myself (not on work, but just in general) and really clears my head to put me in a better mood for the work ahead.
It doesn't hurt that I also had soccer practice today and I get really happy after that!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 37.

I had another good day today.
School wasn't too bad (especially as I got to sleep in) and journaling was more a pleasure than a need. To be more specific- some days when I'm so completely stressed out that I can't speak to someone else without the fear of bursting out crying are the perfect days for "need" journaling. Because I can't talk to anyone else, the journal is the only way I can write out my frustrations.
Today was a "pleasure" journal day in which I wrote down all the nice things I did for people and that I saw. I've found that it's really nice to have journal entries like that to look back on for the bad days.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 36.

Today I wasn't really swamped with pressure or anything, and I didn't have too much to write about, so I focused most of my energy into meditating today.
I've learned to really appreciate meditating in addition to my journaling- now that I know how it can help, it's really improving how I manage my stress levels and I'm so thankful I didn't give up on it after the first week!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 35.

I'm proud of myself- for the past two days, I've been able to have a sunny outlook on life and not to let little things get me down... and it's all with the help of my journal.
If ever I'm feeling a little iffy about a situation or something amazing happens, my journal is there for me to write in and almost always do I come away with a realization about myself. I've been reading through my past entries and I noticed how many times I rant in it. That really just shows to me how much this journal has helped me- even though sometimes I've had bad days/moments, I've been able to overlook them with the help of my journal and just have a better outlook on life.