How to cope with a day of feeling discombobulated

Too much going on – and not achieving anything –  can leave you feeling discombobulated (pic courtesy of

Too much going on – and not achieving anything – can leave you feeling discombobulated (pic courtesy of

Had one of those days when you felt frustrated, blocked, irritated, a little emotional, and generally out of sorts? But not quite sure what was underneath it all? A day when you were pulled in multiple directions, without knowing which way to turn?

You weren’t pressured enough to call it stress, and your irritation wasn’t strong enough to be classed as anger. You weren’t on on top of your game, and you’d lost contact with your usual brilliance. You were a little impatient, and you may have put it down to tiredness. Or maybe something else entirely. You might be feeling feeling confused and perplexed as to why carefully laid plans just weren’t working out. Someone you were relying on let you down unexpectedly. Or you felt you had to compromise your authenticity in a situation that has now left you wondering why.

A possible (though multi-syllabic) way to put a name on what you’re feeling is to call it ‘discombobulated’. It’s a word that sums up the kind of generalised anxiety that you can’t put your finger on, but you know that something isn’t quite right. Feeling discombobulated can be a low-level but disconcerting fear of something not working out the way you’d like it to, and you may not have control of the outcome.

Here’s what I recommend for coping with a day of feeling discombobulated: (more…)

Write at twilight to keep a stronger hold on your memories

You'll have easier access to your memories if you record them in a journal in the evening (pic courtesy of

You’ll have easier access to your memories if you record them in a journal in the evening (pic courtesy of

Do you like to write your diary in the evening, reflecting on the day’s events, and capturing your thoughts and feelings about what’s happened to you? Or are you into morning journaling, wanting to share your thoughts with the page before you go about your day? Well, a study shows that people who write down autobiographical memories at night are more likely to remember them a month down the line than people who scribble down their life events when they wake up.

A diary after dinner: how the time of event recording influences later accessibility of diary events is a piece of research, published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, that looks at the best time of day for recording events to enable them to be remembered at a later time. “Improvements in long-term accessibility” of memories recorded in a diary were greater at night than in the morning. “Participants [in the study] who recorded their memories in the evening before sleep had best memory performance,” according to the research findings. The study explained this as memories becoming more consolidated during sleep, whereas other interference and distractions during the day could affect this process for people who journal in the mornings.

In conclusion, I’m reminded of this quote by Norbet Platt: “The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought. This in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.” So putting pen to paper at night helps embed those thoughts even more deeply.

Only the lonely? Five strategies to help tackle social isolation

Life is so short. Share your heart and spend time with people who count. (pic courtesy of

Life is so short. Share your heart and spend time with people who count. (pic courtesy of

Ever had that moment when you’re in a group of people you don’t particularly connect with, and you’ve never felt more alone? Find yourself retreating to your bedroom more and more, so you can avoid social situations and be on our own? Or just prefer your own company to other people’s?

These scenarios can happen to anyone. Yet while planning some ‘me’ time in your diary can help you build resilience and feel emotionally robust, it’s when these tendencies for ‘alone time’ overshadow the impetus to socialise that issues can emerge. Increasing feelings of isolation when surrounded by friends or acquaintances – or a bigger preference to be on your own, to the exclusion of other people – can lead to bigger problems down the line. Even health problems, according to a recent study. Loneliness can be a bigger killer than obesity or smoking 20 a day. And don’t believe that feelings of social isolation are just for the elderly, either.

Research from Brigham Young University highlights the health worries for people who are lonely or socially isolated – and that means anyone of any age, size, culture or disposition. The obvious but often seemingly unachievable antidote to loneliness is to reach out to to others. Lead study author Julianne Holt-Lunstad says: “We need to start taking our social relationships more seriously.”

But how to reach out socially when you feel unable or unwilling to do so? Here are my five tips for starting to combat loneliness: (more…)

Why not let World Book Day inspire you to write…?

World Book Day 2015World Book Day is that time of year when children are encourage to talk in rhyme, read their favourite books, visit libraries, engage with their favourite authors, and dress up as a book hero or villain.

But why let World Book Day be all about the kids? Awareness Days mark something to be celebrated, and sometimes one can capture our souls more than others. World Book Day, for me, is about optimism and adventure and creativity and imagination. It’s about remembering something wonderful about our past, and possibly creating something for our future. World Book Day always encourages me to write. Something. In honour of all the words and pages and books that have gone before me, that have inspired me, and have held me when nothing else could.

I work with people who would love to have the freedom to write and yet feel blocked, stuck, stupid, unworthy. All core beliefs that leave them in non-writing. World Book Day can be just the excuse you need to get your pen out and scribble on a scrap piece of paper, or your poshest notebook. Whatever needs to emerge will emerge. Just as I rocked up to write a blog post about writing and World Book Day without a plan or an outcome. Just in honour of a feeling.

Related post: Why reading a good book can be therapeutic (and not just on World Book Day)

Can food journaling help you lose weight?

nutrition diary

Keeping a food journal can help you track patterns of emotional eating. (pic:

Anyone who keeps a journal knows that writing your thoughts and feelings down every day can help identify patterns in your emotions. The daily act of journaling can be healing because it’s an outlet for what’s pent up inside. And it can help you come to terms with difficult events in your life.

Journaling is also proving to be a tool to help you make seismic changes in behaviour. A self-confessed ’emotional eater’ in the US, Charmaine Jackson, has revealed that daily food journaling helped her shed half of her body weight. You can read her full story on CNN. She meticulously recorded everything she ate and drank – and what her mood was like – over five years and 14 journals. She noted she would turn to food when she felt stressed or wanted to cheer herself up, and she would mindlessly munch on junk food while watching TV. “The food journal was my truth serum,” says Charmaine. “It made me be honest with myself.”

Charmaine combined food journaling with exercise and advice from a dietician. But we can see from Charmaine’s story that a food journal has these benefits:

  • You become aware of your eating patterns and bad habits.
  • You can track the emotional reasons behind what and when you eat.
  • It can make you more mindful about eating.
  • It encourages you to take responsibility for what you’re eating.
  • You can feel empowered to make meaningful and lasting changes.

So, instead of tucking into a family pack of crisps next time you’re watching a movie on the sofa, why not reach for pen and paper instead?