I sit writing this article as the sun streams in the window, the cat plays with the cardboard box on the floor, the jasmine tea is warming, and the creativity flows.
Contrast this to the day 8 years ago when I was such a wound-up ball of stress, I had to use the balustrade to steady me as I climbed the stairs at work, stopping on each step, positioning my back and my hips to be able to tackle the next one. My body felt and moved like an unhealthy eighty year-old.
I had just relocated from Paris to London in difficult circumstances with my career into a new position that was particularly high-pressure (not least of which came from me), traveling a lot for work, having relationship problems with the man I left behind in Paris, and trying to create a new place I could call home (with all the stresses setting that up brings). I was a short-tempered, fatigued woman and I knew this wasn’t “the real me.” It was the day I decided to take myself off to a detox retreat in Glastonbury, United Kingdom to decompress for a week.
Much has changed since that day. For one thing, a couple of years after “my senior moment” I left the corporate world, “re-relocated” to Paris to go back to the lad, and started my own business as a coach to senior business leaders globally. During the last few years, I have worked with several coaches and the constant throughout was journaling - a safe space for me to unpack sometimes intense emotions that otherwise, I didn’t quite know how to deal with.
I’ve always journaled, but not in an intelligent manner. When I began to ask better questions of myself, my emotions became less intense because having journaled about them, I could recognise them, give them a name, understand their origins and triggers, and let them go. The process of journaling has led me to a calmer state of being, of being more emotionally self-aware and more empathetic to others. I put myself in their shoes more often and can see their side of things.
I believe there are millions of leaders who feel like I did, who feel like they don’t know how to manage their emotions through the stress, urgency, fatigue, meetings, and task lists. It’s one of the most common questions from my clients, “How do I manage my emotions and my stress?” It makes them much less effective, certainly less impactful, and most definitely less inspiring when they don’t know what to do with the intense emotions that have a tendency to explode unexpectedly in high-stress environments.
It’s the benefits of journaling that led me to write my first book about my experience The Executive’s Guide to Journaling: Write Your Way to Less Stress, Better Relationships, and More Impactful and Inspiring Leadership. I have compiled over 300 Artful Questions, journaling prompts to help you ask better questions so you get better answers. The book outlines the research that supports the benefits of the practice of journaling with referenced articles and papers for you to look into further.
I’m an evangelist about the benefits of journaling on our mental health, relationships, and how we show up to the world. In writing this book, I want to help leaders become more emotionally self-aware because - let’s face it - a calm leader who isn’t losing their s*** all the time is a much nicer person to be around and to work for. That’s the leader people want to follow.
Pick up your copy of The Executive’s Guide to Journaling: Write Your Way to Less Stress, Better Relationships, and More Impactful and Inspiring Leadership on Amazon and Kindle.