Jeff Yalden and Mike Veny are two of the top mental health speakers in the country. They have also been friends for some time.
Yalden hosted Veny over Thanksgiving for a couple days at his home in Murrells Inlet, just outside beautiful Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In addition to enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, this Mastermind duo talked shop, touching on such topics as mental health advocacy, suicide prevention, self-care and more.
On the following Friday, Yalden came outside to his patio and found Veny in the process of finishing up a journaling session. This was the perfect opportunity to fire up the video camera for an impromptu conversation about the importance of journaling as a component of self-care.
The following is a digest of that conversation:
YALDEN: We’ve heard about journaling and it’s being important. Why do you do it, and why is it important?
VENY: Journaling is something that I have learned to do on a daily basis. It’s become a habit. Some days, I wake up, and one of the first things I do is sit there with my black coffee and journal for about a half-hour. And I journal for a variety of reasons: One of the things I have learned about myself if that emotions and thoughts are sometimes conversations going on in our heads, and it’s important to learn to process them in healthy ways.
A lot of times, when I am stressed about something, I have learned that when I start journaling, [there is] actually something going on at a much deeper level than what I think it is – and journaling allows me a way to explore something that I am feeling and put it out there on paper. Just that simple act alone can be enough to give me forgiveness around an issue from the past, or something that is happening recently – or even celebrate something that I am happy about. I just think it’s really important to do that, and it’s a form of what I call “showing up for yourself.” I show up for myself so I can be emotionally available to other people.
The other thing that I do when I journal is [that] I take time to write out things that I am grateful for. Gratitude is so important, and I know that, Jeff – you totally believe in gratitude. We can spend a lot of time thinking and talking about things that we hate, that we don’t like, that we are upset about – that we want to change, that happen to us – whatever. It’s important to important to discuss that stuff – but it’s also important to focus on the good things in life, because that can really change your perspective. That’s one of the reasons I journal.
YALDEN: How often should you journal? How often should people sit back and reflect and do that self-care/journaling? It’s important that you want to make yourself use the [phrase] “emotionally available.” What would you recommend for people and how often should they journal for themselves?
VENY: I journal every day. I believe that people should get into the practice of that. It’s just important for anybody. I use a Moleskine journal, which is available everywhere. But I like these journals because the pages are easy to write on, and I also write with a Pilot G2 gel pen. The reason I bring that up is because having the right writing utensils for journaling has made it much easier to make it a habit.
I believe that everyone should just try to do it once a day. Start by doing it for five minutes. Ask yourself, “how am I feeling,” and just write it out. Also ask yourself what three good things happened in your life – and just write it out. I guarantee you, even just five minutes on it will dramatically change your perspective on the day.
YALDEN: When you sit down to journal and you are taking everything – these emotions – out of your head and you are putting it on paper. One of the reasons why they say journaling is important is because you are slowing down your brain processing. So now you are taking it out of your head and you are putting it on paper. Do you ever find that this process can become emotional?
VENY: Absolutely. I love what you said about [journaling] slowing down your thinking. I think that’s good for me and for everyone out there – to have your thinking slow down. It becomes really emotional. Sometimes, it becomes so emotional that I can feel the pen almost pushing through the paper and ripping it – because I am so angry at something that I am writing, or something that is coming out – but it’s important.
When I first started doing this, I got very scared, because I figured if I keep doing this – and kept writing about my feelings – that just painful stuff was going to come out and that I was going to lose it. But what has actually happened is the opposite: Through letting out these painful emotions in the journal – a lot of times, I finish journaling, and I feel like a weight is lifted off my shoulders.
The other thing that has been really interesting that has happened just recently is that I have started becoming excited about writing down the painful stuff. I believe that once you get started, it really becomes, I am just going to say, an addiction that’s really all about self-care and processing those uncomfortable feelings that we love to run away from. Really important to do.
YALDEN: So journaling isn’t just about what’s really good – it’s not necessarily about what’s really bad – I think journaling is about where are you in that moment – where are you in moments from yesterday – but you want to write about today. Journaling is about where you see yourself – or maybe what you want to work on – or what you are feeling.
What do you do when you sit down and journal, but you don’t really know what to write about? Do you not journal? Or – why is it important to continue when you don’t know what to write about?
VENY: Guess what – that happens [to me] every single day. The key is to start writing something. I typically start with writing the date. That’s it. And where I am. For me, I fly a lot, so a lot of times I’ve gone from New York to Los Angeles. I love to put in NYC to LAX – and I learned that from author and speaker Michael Hyatt. Just simply writing the date and where I am could actually be all I need to get the process going – because once you start actually writing, things just come out of you. It’s almost as if the journal magically writes itself. I love that about journaling.
One thing I suggest to people is that you can write about dreams that you have. You can write about goals, or everyone’s favorite – ideas. We all have tons of ideas – an idea for what to do on the house – or what to do for the holidays – or what to do for your business next year – or whatever it is in your life. I think it’s important to write those things out and get them off your mind [and into] something that’s tangible. And you’ll be surprised. The more you start doing that, things that you want to happen in your life – forget about processing, mental health issues, emotions, depression, anxiety – forget about that for a second. Forget about gratitude. The simple act of just writing stuff down that’s on your mind will also allow you to have your ideas manifest into something, and to maybe work out maybe challenges that you are having at work, or a problem that you are trying to solve. I think it’s important just to do it – not just for gratitude and emotions – but also for your ideas and dreaming.
YALDEN: My friends, don’t be afraid to write down what you are happy about. Don’t be afraid to write down what you have to work on. The most important thing is that we keep working to become better versions of ourselves for the people that are in our lives.
For more information about Jeff, go HERE.
Check out Jeff’s new website for his nonprofit, The Jeff Yalden Foundation.
For more about Mike Veny, go HERE.
Order Jeff’s new book, Your Life Matters, for only $0.99 on AMAZON. [Limited-time offer].