Write Yourself to Better Health

caught in action
There’s an undeniable link between your feelings and your health, especially when it comes to the way you eat. Now a quirky new study shows how you can harness the power of your personal beliefs to effortlessly change your diet. The secret is called values affirmation.

The idea goes something like this: when you reflect and write about the values that matter most to you–such as your friends, your work, your children–you pause to see the bigger picture of your life, and that sense of perspective reduces your stress. And when you’re calmer and less stressed, you activate the part of your brain that can resist the temptation of unhealthy  foods.

Here’s the compelling evidence: When women were asked to write about their cherished values, they lost 3.4 pounds in 2-1/2 months. That’s over 14 pounds in a year. In contrast, the women who wrote about irrelevant values–things they didn’t really care about– gained 2.76 pounds in that same period, adding up to a roughly 13-pound weight gain in a year.  Track these changes over time, and that’s pretty significant.

Here’s how you can use values affirmation to reduce your stress, maintain a healthy weight or both:

  1. Think about the things you value most in your life, such as: the people you love, music, nature, your spiritual beliefs, etc.
  2. Now reflect on those values and write about them as often as you’d like.
  3. That’s it.

I’ve seen firsthand — through my clients, students and myself — the powerful effect writing can have on your well-being. Take 15 minutes, give it a try, and see what happens.

Creative Commons License photo credit: i am roco

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Darlene Mininni

About Darlene Mininni

Dr. Darlene Mininni is the author of “The Emotional Toolkit” and creator of UCLA’s undergraduate happiness class LifeSkills. Her work has been featured on CNN, PBS, NPR, WebMD, Marie Claire, SELF and Prevention. Darlene maintains a private mentoring practice dedicated to showing women how to create happy lives by developing their inner wisdom. Follow Darlene on Facebook at Facebook.com/DrDarleneMininni