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People are emotional creatures. You can be happy, sad, angry, confused, scared, excited, and everything in between. Managing your negative feelings can be incredibly difficult. Your bad moods will hamper your productivity and even health as stress compromises your immune system and makes you more vulnerable to high blood pressure, obesity, migraines, heart problems, and more.

Talking to a friend, family, or psychiatrist can help, but you sometimes need to rely on yourself. A journal can work as a personal therapist. It will always be there to listen whenever you need it. Just taking a few minutes each day to jot down your feelings can significantly improve your mood and mental health.

One of the most extensive studies on journaling, conducted by University of Texas professor James Pennebaker, describes how he started to experience turmoil in his marriage and fell into depression. He began writing out his feelings on a typewriter. Soon enough, his mood improved, his relationship blossomed, and he was able to get a better understanding of his life goals.

Pennebaker conducted experiments where participants would spend 20 minutes a day writing about emotional experiences in their lives. These entries ranged from sexual abuse to guilt over accidental deaths. Months later, the journalists began to show signs of improvement. They had better mental and physical health, lower blood pressure, and fewer doctor visits.

Pennebaker’s method is to just write non-stop for 20 minutes. You could write about something that happened today or even something that occurred years ago. Punctuation, grammar, and spelling don’t matter; just get your thoughts out. Then, delete the document or throw away the paper. Rip it up and toss it in the fire if you wish. These ideas and feelings are no longer a part of you.

Another method is to use an emotional journaling technique divided into four steps:
• Write down an emotional experience you’ve had
• Say how you responded to the situation
• Write down your analysis of the situation, digging deep to determine the causes of your emotions and reactions
• Conclude with self-reflection. Ask yourself what you learned and what you would do if you reencountered the situation.

Journaling also helps when trying to make decisions. You might feel conflicted when deciding to start a new class, move to a different country, enter a relationship, or make a significant purchase. Writing down your multitude of thoughts can help organize them into coherent statements. You can quickly weigh pros and cons of each decision.

Writing is an incredibly therapeutic process. Taking a few minutes each day to jot down your thoughts help put them into words and distance yourself from your emotions. It helps you critically analyze yourself and your feelings. Once you start journaling, you’ll notice significant differences in your mood and health.

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Five Ways to Rock Sydney without Breaking the Bank

by Gail Kavanagh

Sydney, the capital of New South Wales in Australia, is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, overlooking a natural harbor that offers excitement both on and off the water. But the things for which Sydney is justifiably renowned, such as harbor cruises and fine dining, can hit the wallet hard. Fortunately, once you get to know it, Sydney can also offer you wonderful experiences at prices the locals are happy to pay.

Cruising Sydney Harbour for Pocket Change

Cruising magnificent Sydney Harbour with all the luxurious trimmings on a fancy yacht can cost hundreds of dollars, even for a solo passenger. But like Hong Kong, Sydney also offers a daily commute across the water that is cheap and cheerful and brings you right into the life of the city.

Your magic carpet is called a Sydney Ferry and you’ll find one at Circular Quay, with the Sydney Opera House and the famed Sydney Harbour Bridge close by. Just buy a ticket to Manly, right across the other side of the huge natural harbor, and get on board for a great ride. The ferry will take you right under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and you can look back at a spectacular view of the city. Keep your camera handy.

Your 30-minute Sydney Harbour Cruise will give you the same view of the harbor that the toffs enjoy, and bring you to one of Sydney’s great suburbs at Manly, where you can relax on the beach, and stroll down to the Corso, Manly’s shopping precinct, for some seriously good fish and chips.

For just a few bucks (around $7 AUD) for your ferry fare, you will have one of the most spectacular days out you can imagine.

How to Have a Cheap Iconic Meal in Sydney

Sydney is known for its beautiful cuisine, influenced by the many cultures that have come to Australia and shared their cooking traditions. No matter what style of cooking you love, Sydney has it on offer, including the best seafood anywhere. But in all honesty, it’s not cheap. However, there is one traditional food item that everyone can afford. You just have to like meat.

The good old Aussie meat pie is both a snack on the go and a sit-down meal. Where you choose to sit down is up to you – it could be overlooking the water at Darling Harbour, or deep in the green swards of the Royal Botanical Gardens. Relax and let the world go by as you squeeze the little packet of tomato sauce onto your pie, and don’t forget to throw the crumbs to the pigeons. You’ll be surrounded by the little bandits in no time.

Catch a Train to See the World’s Most Famous Beach

Bondi Beach is a true Sydney icon you won’t want to miss, and the easiest way to get there is by train. If you take a car, the cost of parking will take your breath away faster than the salty air and finding a parking spot can be a nightmare. So hop on the train, and as you stroll down from the station, let your first glimpse of the beach take your breath away instead. It almost looks as if it is standing on end, it is so deep and wide a vista. You will feel the exhilaration the locals enjoy of being able to walk to the best beach ever.

Get Away from the Hustle and Bustle

When the city and the beaches are hot and crowded, and you need a quiet break, head for the Chinese Garden of Friendship at Darling Harbour. Built in 1988 as a symbol of the ties of friendship between Sydney and its sister city Guangzhou in China, the garden has grown into a place of peace and harmony amid the city’s bustle and noise. Everywhere you stop presents a beautiful scene worthy of framing, and there is usually some free activity going on in the holidays. The cost to get in is also ridiculously cheap – $6 AUD for adults and $3 AUD for children. There’s no time limit on how long you can stay (except closing time) and you can visit the tea house for tea and snacks to refresh yourself.

Get Your Seafood from Paddy’s Market

Craving some of the seafood Sydney is famous for, but baulking at the restaurant prices? Head for the same place those fancy chefs get their ingredients – Paddy’s Market. Here you will find literally stacks of the freshest and most delicious fish and seafood that Sydney has to offer – without the restaurant mark up. Get there early, grab yourself an esky full of ocean goodness, some fresh veggies and salad, and head for the nearest outdoor BBQ spot. Cook yourself a feast fit for a king – or at least a celebrity chef. While you are at the market, stock up on your souvenirs. It’s all made overseas but so is the stuff in the expensive shops.

Once you know your way around, it’s easy to rock Sydney on a budget. Just make like a local and follow the home crowd to the best and cheapest fun in the city.


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