Leaders Are Not Exempt From Depression
Depression affects about 16 million American adults annually — leaders included; however, many are reluctant to discuss their feelings for fear of being perceived as weak or burdening others. This attitude is not only detrimental but can be fatal. Leaders must take action and invest in themselves to overcome intrusive and unhelpful emotions. Rather than ignore it, or suffer in silence, leaders can help by leading.
The myriad of world stresses combined with a punishing tide of unproductive meetings, understaffed projects, and mind-numbing tasks can lead to deep frustration, anger, sadness, or fear. Leaders are often ill-equipped to manage these emotions appropriately. Many become immobilized by a fog that seems to hold them back. It’s time to regain control.
You know that writing is a powerful communication tool. Did you also know it’s a valuable therapeutic outlet?
Journaling, detested by some, and lauded by others, is a quick, manageable, and private way to alleviate stress. Studies show that the regular and deliberate practice of therapeutic writing for 15–20 minutes per day helps you;
- Silence the endless worry loop in your head.
- Deal with recent or long-held trauma.
- Ease the symptoms of some illnesses.
- Boost your immune system.
Fifteen years ago, I created a powerful tool that helps to simplify and hasten the process with seven thought-provoking prompts. Since 2008, the Disposable Journal has been a valuable resource for busy professionals seeking peace of mind. Leaders who make the time to journal become more mindful, aware, and positively reflective. Briefly sitting with your emotions allows you to discover constructive solutions so you can move forward. And you don’t need to be a writer to accomplish this; it’s about getting the “stuff” out of your head.
The Disposable Journal is a physical book, but I will share the content here. You can print it or copy and paste the prompts in a way that serves you. Or, you can order a copy.
Remember, this is private; you are not obligated to share any insights you discover. It’s your personal exploration. Also, you’re not creating great art here. What you write won’t be perfect. Your words needn’t be spelled correctly or with elegant penmanship. You’re working on improving your attitude — not your grammatical prowess.
All it takes is your commitment to finding the time to write each day for seven days. Be expressive and sloppy. Consider the questions coming from a dear friend to whom you can open up and bear your soul without judgment. Invest about twenty minutes, more if needed, but not less if you can help. If it gets too hard and the emotions you engage get to be too much, stop. No worries. You can return to it later.
You will be pleasantly surprised at how liberating it feels to move things from your head to the page.
It’s time to write it out and let it go.
Note: The Disposable Journal is not intended to replace the services of professional care.
If you find any exercises too painful to complete, seek professional help. Many employers offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that can be a valuable free resource. Also, consult your primary physician.
Seven Days of Prompting
Day One — Think and then get it out.
What’s troubling you right now? Is it fear? Are you angry or perhaps sad? Today put it out there. Think of this journal as your trusted friend you’ve not seen in a while. What do you want to tell it?
Day Two — What’s going on with you?
Today describe your current state. What are your thoughts and feelings? Who’s to blame, and why do you feel that way? Put it out there and write for a solid twenty minutes.
Day Three — What do you call it?
Today list several words and phrases that describe how you feel. Circle a few of them; connect similar words or phrases with arrows. Put a star next to one or two that speak to you. If the words escape you, draw a picture.
Day Four — Isolate the pain.
Today pick one of those words or phrases that you starred yesterday. Focus on it and explicitly describe it using all your senses. What does it look like to you? How does it smell, taste, and sound? How do you feel about it? Thoroughly examine it for twenty minutes.
Day Five — Get physical.
Today think about what’s been holding you back and describe how you physically feel inside and out. What’s happening to your hands and legs? How does your stomach feel? How about your face and head? What are your lips and eyes doing? What else have you noticed? Write it out.
Day Six — Letter it out.
Today draft a letter to the person or persons that have had their grip on you. Detail how you feel and what must change. If you can forgive them, do so. If not, describe how you will improve with this “thing” behind you.
Day Seven — What now?
Today write a letter to your future self. You have bared your soul and learned a lot. Congratulations! Now use the good feelings to encourage yourself. Write out new goals. Consider framing them with these questions. How much and by when? Why? Who can help? Be action-oriented.
You did it! Now save Day Seven from your journal and dispose of the rest. It’s your final step in letting go. There is no reason for you to carry the burden any longer. Take the letter you wrote to your future self and place it someplace where you will see it and read it tomorrow morning.
Good luck on your exciting new journey without the extra baggage.
Order a Disposable Journal
To order physical copies of the Disposable Journal for yourself or your organization or to give as a gift to the people you care about, go to DisposableJournal.com or contact Karl Bimshas Consulting for information on volume discounts.
About Karl Bimshas
Karl Bimshas is a Boston-bred, California-chilled Leadership Consultant, Writer, and Podcast Host. As the founder of Karl Bimshas Consulting, he provides customized leadership development and accountability partnering to help employees and teams grow and succeed.