From the psychology 101/”self-help” files:
Two years ago I blogged about my attempts to change an undesired behavior of mine using some pretty basic behavior management techniques. This evening, I’m going to come at this from another angle: increasing desired behavior through blogging.
“Journaling”, or writing down reflections & analyses of one’s own behavior, is one of the “go-to” tools of the cognitive-behavioral therapist. It helps make one more aware of one’s behaviors and consequences, and also allows for reflection on the emotional and social impact of those behaviors, both on oneself and on others (Ullrich & Lutgendorf, 2002). In some cases, it may also have a general therapeutic effect beyond simple behavior management (Fritson, 2008). It’s both a motivational tool and coping mechanism, and it can work as well for adults as for children.
I’m using journaling to support a new behavior I’d like to see continue. After a false start last week, I started the P90X workout program this past weekend, and it is without a doubt the toughest workout program I’ve ever done. I’m used to lifting very heavy weights with decent breaks in between, but this program has you up and moving, lifting, breathing, and sweating constantly for about an hour at a pop.
My cardio fitness level is not where it used to be, so this is pretty challenging for me. In order to a) keep me mentally focused on the benefits and b) make myself accountable an audience (real or imaginary, I’ll grant you), I’ve started microblogging my efforts here. It is my hope that this will help “keep me honest” and committed to the full 90 days of this workout program. It will also help me track my progress as I (hopefully) gain strength and endurance throughout the program.
Other folks in the edublogoblahblah have done something similar, only as a group, regarding their running efforts, and I seem to remember (but can’t locate) yet another example of a similar group of educators rallying online around their weight loss efforts.
Do it in a group or do it on your own. Do it online or offline. Do it on a blog or do it in a notebook. Journaling is a tool that can help you reach a behavioral goal you’ve set for yourself, whether it’s running your first 5K, losing that last 10 pounds, or even more long-term goals like surviving your first year of teaching or finishing that grad degree.
Fritson, K.K. (2008). Impact of journaling on students’ self-efficacy and locus of control. InSight, 3, 75-83. Retrieved from http://www.insightjournal.net
Ullrich, P.M., & Lutgendorf, S.K. (2002). Journaling about stressful events: Effects of cognitive processing and emotional expression. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 24(3), 244-250. doi: 10.1207/S15324796ABM2403_10