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Pennebaker Writing Exercise
Old 12-14-2011, 10:50 AM   #1
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Pennebaker Writing Exercise

Lately I have been struggling to get enough sleep- not that I am staying up too late, but I have been waking up too early, and sometimes having difficulty going back to sleep. Since I am quite active and I do not nap well, I had been getting more than a little tired.

On Sunday I also was feeling kind of down, which is unusual and especially when the weather has been clear and light. I had been telling myself that may be it is just age, often older people do not sleep as they did when younger. I realized that instead, I am bothered by moving. My last 2 moves were not the happiest, as my marriage was ending and I had figured that I was a matrimonial lifer.

Anyway, I came across a reference to the Pennebaker writing exercises, a programmed way to alleviate unconscious or poorly understood emotional issues, and started doing this practice. I don't even pay that much attention to what I am writing, but the effect on my mood and also on my sleep is amazing.

Last night I was tired, partly from shortened sleep the night before, and partly from a lot of physical activity. I lay down in bed about 9:30 with a cup of mint tea, and I woke up this morning after 8 straight hours of sleep. The light was still on, the tea untouched.

So I hope to continue to benefit, though you are not supposed to do it every day- I believe 4 straight days for at least 15 minutes. I do a little more time than 15 minutes. When I break, I'll read up more on the process to see the recommended intervals, etc.

Here is one reference, in case anyone else is interested in learning about this.

Writing and Health




Ha.
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Old 12-14-2011, 11:02 AM   #2
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Ha, I am sorry to hear that your last two moving experiences have detracted from what, IMO, should be the excitement and happy adventure of this next move.

But also, I am glad to hear that this writing exercise is helping you! I'll keep it in mind, and maybe this idea will come in handy some day. Thanks!
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Old 12-14-2011, 11:04 AM   #3
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Interesting Ha, thanks for the link. I have gone through periods of journaling (often just stream of consciousness stuff) at least once a week, and other periods of no journaling for months/years. I seem to do better overall when journaling. It seemed to help keep me grounded. Maybe just because putting things down on paper that you were otherwise mulling around in your head in the background. Such thoughts can really be distracting and interfere with day-to-day living. Something about writing these things down helped release them.

I do find that sometimes I have a real resistance to doing the journaling. I think it's called conflict avoidance .

I would think your physical activity would help with the sleep. I sleep better with regular exercise even if sometimes I am sore. I have a theory that physical activity helps with moods too, maybe just by oxygenating the blood and sweating out some toxins .

Glad you found a way to deal with your sleep problems.
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Old 12-14-2011, 12:58 PM   #4
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I know what you mean Ha....I usually stay up all night when I am stressed...but I get a lot of work done.
Nowadays, I sleep like a baby....make sure you have comfortable bedding, down comforters, and fluffy pillows!
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Old 12-14-2011, 01:01 PM   #5
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Ha, this is a good link. Even though I sleep pretty well I think I'm going to try this anyway. Thanks
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Old 12-14-2011, 01:37 PM   #6
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I'm glad this is working for you, Ha.

I love writing about "stuff" but I'm too paranoid about writing down my problems and/or personal feelings. I have visions of dropping dead and having my family discover that their sister was a seriously disturbed sociopath with delusions of grandeur. Mostly, I don't want anyone to feel bad if my ramblings take me down some dark paths.

'Course, it won't matter since I'll still be just as dead. It's the principle of the thing I guess.
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Old 12-14-2011, 01:42 PM   #7
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I'm delighted you found something that will free your mind a bit and allow you to rest well.

During my w*rking days, I attended a three day course; Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. One of the exercises was writing down our thoughts with abandon. I found it very helpful.

In 2012, I will be starting my eighth year of a personal journal. It's not flowing like the article you presented, but it's helpful to me.
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Old 12-14-2011, 01:52 PM   #8
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,<snip>I love writing about "stuff" but I'm too paranoid about writing down my problems and/or personal feelings.
Hmmmm...I don't write down all of mine either. Some experiences/thoughts will only be kept in the few brain cells I have left...
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Old 12-14-2011, 02:33 PM   #9
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When our young daughter was waking us up 2-3 times/night to talk about why she couldn't sleep, we encouraged her to write her thoughts down in her journal.

Soon she was waking us up 2-3 times/night to read her journal to us, where she'd written down her thoughts about why she couldn't sleep.
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Old 12-15-2011, 08:05 AM   #10
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Thats a really interesting article and glad to hear this seems to be working for you Ha. DD & DW have some troubles in this area and I will see if they want to give this a try. Does writing posts on ERF before bed count?
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Old 12-15-2011, 02:38 PM   #11
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Cognitive behavioral therapy principally consists of writing down one's thinking when one is depressed, and writing down next to it, more "reasonable" and less distorted viewpoints. Studies have shown that this simple therapy fights depression as effectively as traditional psychotherapy, or drugs.

There's something about writing that powerfully etches things into one's brain. I think that if you take all the activities one could engage in from watching TV to climbing a mountain to having a conversation with an intelligent person, writing of any sort is near the top as far as productivity.
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Old 12-16-2011, 01:32 PM   #12
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When I was younger I used to journal. But I was encouraged by a creative writing teacher in college. Sometimes I think I better get rid of them because they do contain thoughts that might bother someone some day.
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Old 12-16-2011, 01:35 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by mountaintosea View Post
When I was younger I used to journal. But I was encouraged by a creative writing teacher in college. Sometimes I think I better get rid of them because they do contain thoughts that might bother someone some day.
I have thought of that too. I'll either encrypt the file or just ask my son to delete it unread after I am dead. I don't rag on anyone in it, but still it is very personal. I've written down many of my dreams for over 10 years.

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Old 12-16-2011, 02:48 PM   #14
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I've written down many of my dreams for over 10 years.

Ha
Why?

I see you are not new to writing consistently then. Have you kept any sort of log of your mood, sleep, energy level, or other things to compare the effects on your quality of life of these kinds of changes in routine (i.e. when you were journaling vs. when you were not)?
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Old 12-16-2011, 04:55 PM   #15
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I am reading a book about happiness called 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman that reviews the well done research on things that work. The first chapter makes the point that exercises that really work involve WRITING down- not just thinking about certain things. Seems well grounded in the scientific literature....Interesting book by the way, if anyone is interested.
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Old 12-16-2011, 05:09 PM   #16
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I journaled after my losses . I filled six books with my thoughts and it really helped me through some painful times . I still have them and I really need to destroy them before it's too late . Moving is stressful no matter what the reason . When I moved from New Jersey to Florida I broke out in Shingles .
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Old 12-16-2011, 05:10 PM   #17
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Serious question: does typing into a computer count as writing?
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Old 12-16-2011, 05:39 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Serious question: does typing into a computer count as writing?
Good question.

In my experience:

Code:
Simply puzzling over a problem in my
 head, never writing any of it down:      5% as effective as handwriting with a pen on paper.
Typed and saved on soft copy:            50% as effective as handwriting with a pen on paper.
Typed and printed out on hard copy:      65% as effective as handwriting with a pen on paper.
I also get a little more effectiveness if the writing is part of a log or other intended to be long-lasting, document. The knowledge that I will be looking at it again makes my brain concentrate more on what it puts out onto the paper.
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Old 12-16-2011, 08:01 PM   #19
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I don't think I've written more than a few words on actual paper since 1980.
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Old 12-16-2011, 08:23 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Serious question: does typing into a computer count as writing?
Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
I don't think I've written more than a few words on actual paper since 1980.
I sure hope so, because my handwriting skills barely get me through writing out the rare check to pay a bill.

After using a word processor for 30 years, I also now have great difficulty composing linearly.
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