I was recently at an advocate marketing industry conference (Advocamp) where I saw David Spinks, CEO of CMX Media speak. He outlined some major trends and research around how isolation is more prevalent these days even though we are more connected than ever with the Internet.
The stats were astonishing. Loneliness has been proven to be as detrimental to an individual’s health as smoking or obesity. I personally related as being an isolated remote worker contributing to those statistics.
Isolation and mental health is not a new issue, but it's gaining more exposure lately, which is a good step toward improving it.
Even, marketer/entrepreneur extraordinaire, Gary Vaynerchuk, said, “Mental health needs to be the number one thing we talk about over the next 20 years. Mental Health is something we need to put on a pedestal and really start talking about…if you’re brain’s not right, nothing else is gonna work.” (check out DailyVee episode 341).
I have spent the better part of the last two years working remotely from my home.
While I love the autonomy of working the way I do I have found that the isolation, even though I talk to people via phone and online all day, is intense when not occupying the same physical space as other human beings.
This was making me irritable, obsessed about little things around the house being in the right place, and it was making me depressed, all of which was affecting my own well-being as well as my family's.
Today, I'm in a better place. Balance is key. I still work remotely. I am actually enjoying it more than ever, but there are some things I figured out that helped me turn the corner toward a more positive mindset to make working remotely work for me.
Being a creative professional, I often write in a journal to hone my craft, capture ideas, work out strategies for projects as well as distill my emotions.
At this point in my life, I have been journaling for nearly two decades and have multiple volumes of journals collected for posterity. Although I wasn't always journaling daily or specifically touching on things in my writing to purposely help improve my mindset, I did notice that in my spurts of regular writing through the years it often helped improve my mood. It was and is cathartic to get things out of my head and onto paper.
More recently I had come across a few articles that each mentioned James Pennebaker's research on the effects of expressive writing and keeping a journal.
The simple act of having a daily writing practice to allow one to reflect on what they've experienced and how they felt and how that kind of writing can improve one's mood, mindset and even immune health was inspiring to me.
This made me think of being more purposeful with my own journaling to improve my mental health as I continue to work from home. Eventually, I created a journaling framework to do just that.
It started out as a personal journaling system just for me, but I realized that maybe others could benefit from it as well.
Along with wanting to identify goals and track progress over time towards meeting those goals, I wanted to incorporate into my daily writing things that would help improve my mood beyond just the act of writing itself.
I found that identifying things I was grateful for as well as victories I accomplished towards my goals and acts of kindness that I had performed no matter how large or small served as a conscious reminder of good and positive things in my life that reflected my values and more of the way I wanted to live.
Over a short period of time this approach began to change my mindset and my mood. I felt like I had more energy, was more positive with my family and had a better outlook on each day.
That’s when I thought of a way to work into the framework of short daily prompts, a scoring system that easily allows one to track their color-coded mood (red, yellow, green) over time and identify trends of how they’re feeling to be informed and potentially change up daily habits, or continue daily habits that are working, to positively affect one’s overall mood.
This solution is a simple, low-tech, high-result journal called the GrowLoop Journal that can potentially increase one’s productivity and health for less than $20.
I’m not saying it’s the only, or even the best solution, but it’s an extremely affordable place to start for those in creative fields, those who work remotely and are fighting isolation, those who wish to reduce their anxiety and stress, or even professionals looking to up their game (when in a positive state of mind, it’s easier to achieve success).
I can see not only individuals using this, but entire work teams who are striving for a more positive company culture promoting health (physical and mental) as well as productivity and personal/professional development…essentially humans trying to be better humans.
This journaling system, along with some needed time spent among other working humans in a coffee shop, has helped to improve my mood and productivity.
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