Keeping It Together: Getting Started with Journaling During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the entire world topsy-turvy. This upheaval has affected nations as a whole, from government responses to the tourist industry. But the effects have also hit us on a more personal scale, transforming how we go about our day-to-day lives and how we interact with each other. Our regular routines have shifted to accommodate restrictions such as social distancing and lockdowns. Pandemic life has heightened fear and anxiety. To deal with these overwhelming changes and emotions, some people have turned to journals.
But why journaling? Isn’t that activity reserved for high school teens? While keeping a diary is more common for teenagers, we must not underestimate it. We need it now more than ever. While we’re stuck at home, watching the news has been quite devastating as we see the number of infections and deaths increase each day, negatively affecting our mental health.
With journals, we can express the thoughts and feelings we have deep inside. Doing this will help us gain self-awareness by acknowledging feelings we are not aware of and processing them accordingly. In this blog post, we detail the many mental health benefits you can gain from journaling and the reasons you should get started while you’re stuck at home because of COVID-19.
Dear Diary, What Are the Benefits of Journaling?
Journaling can provide a safe space for you to write down anything. It is a healthy coping mechanism, especially if you cannot understand your intense feelings immediately. Writing these feelings down will help you self-reflect and self-regulate, which helps you avoid making rash decisions. You can even gain a new perspective about a situation and become more aware of how your body responds to stress.
As you keep track of your thoughts, emotions, and goals, you can better ease your anxiety and improve your cognitive skills in a way that positively affects your quality of life. Essentially, journaling will help you:
- Boost your mood
- Produce positive feelings
- Become self-aware
- Improve your cognitive skills
- Improve your quality of life
- Recover from post-traumatic symptoms
- Ease your anxiety
- Manage symptoms of depression
With the onset of the pandemic, many have been struggling with their mental health. Depression, in particular, has become difficult to deal with, as people are isolated from their peers during the lockdowns. Scientific studies did these past few years have proved that journaling is a helpful tool in improving mental health and managing symptoms and effects. Let’s get into how it can help with quarantine sadness.
Stresses Faced During COVID-19 and How Journaling Can Help
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, your life at work, school, and daily routines have gone awry. There are the constant fear and anxiety of contracting the virus. The economies of countries have gone down, resulting in laid-off workers. Moreover, there are unfortunate instances when friends and family have gotten sick with COVID-19. Worse, someone you know has ended up dying because of the virus. The isolation brought by the quarantine protocols and the grief and loss over the deaths is overwhelming. These changes are truly stressful for everyone. You need to keep up and strengthen your mind despite these hard times.
Keeping in everything you feel during this pandemic can bring stress and bear down on your mental health. As you express yourself with journaling, you will eventually enjoy its positive effects. High-risk individuals can ease their anxiety and depression symptoms by keeping a journal and writing as often as possible. In fact, expressive writing for 20 minutes a day for three days has helped people suffering from major depressive disorder (MOD) reduce their symptoms.
Journaling will materialize your thoughts, which can help you:
- Explore your thoughts about life during quarantine
- Gain a new perspective about the COVID-19 situation
- Process and acknowledge all your feelings and experiences
How to Get Started with Journaling
No matter who you are, you can start a journal. The positive outcomes are truly worth it, as they help you keep positive thoughts, acknowledge negative feelings, and improve your perception of yourself. Now that we’ve covered how beneficial journaling is, let’s get into how to get started.
Materials you need
The materials for journaling are easy to find. If you want to write physically, you’ll need the following:
- Pens. These are preferable over pencils, as the latter smudge over time. You can opt for journaling pens that create more precise lines in small spaces.
- Journal. There are specific notebooks for journaling that come with calendars and reminders. You can still use any old binder or notepad, though.
If you prefer to type, you can download many journaling applications, such as Memento and Day One.
What type of journal do you want to keep?
- Worries. You can write what you’re afraid of. Think of what has been triggering your fears and anxieties during the COVID-19 pandemic. Is it the isolation? The risk of getting sick?
- Goals. You can write your visions here. Go over what you hope to accomplish during and after the pandemic. Do you want to travel once everything is fine? Whom will you visit first?
- General. You can write about random things here. Discuss anything and everything that’s going on during your quarantine life. Share what happened when Walmart ran out of toilet paper or about the new friends you made during virtual events.
- Gratitude. You can write about the things you’re thankful for. Talk about how grateful you are that you’re healthy or that you could go out and do the groceries today.
Prompts that can assist you in journaling
If you don’t know how to start writing, here are some prompts that can help you stimulate your mind:
- Reflection on the new normal
- Opening up about your feelings
- New perspectives brought by the COVID-19 pandemic
Journaling may seem hard at first. Eventually, you will learn how to acknowledge, process, and make peace with your unexpressed feelings, especially during these difficult times. The long-term benefits that you will gain from this activity will help you in the future.