Journaling about your thoughts and feelings during the Coronavirus pandemic can help you process whatever may be popping up as you navigate these uncertain times.
Research shows that writing about your thoughts and feelings can have a positive impact on your mental health. Sometimes, expressing yourself on the page helps you process complicated feelings or figure out what’s bugging you.
Many of us have an innate desire to write our way through our thoughts and feelings and dedicating this time to yourself to do so can have tons of benefits. Journaling has been proven to help reduce stress, improve your sleep, and even boost your creativity.
Journaling seems pretty easy, and it is, but if you’re new to expressing yourself in writing, here are some ways to build your confidence on the page:
Get DIY with It
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to journal. You can buy a paper journal to write down your thoughts the old-fashioned way or you could create a document on your computer or record voice memos using an app on your phone. You could even use a spare legal pad you have lying around—whatever feels the most comfortable for you.
What you include in your journal is also—of course—entirely up to you. Some folks like to draw illustrations or sketches alongside their written entries. If you’re using a digital format, you could add images, gifs, or links. The important thing is to remember that you can really do whatever you want in your journal.
Make it a Habit
You’ll reap the most benefits from journaling if you do it every day. Think of it as a daily check-in with yourself. Try journaling at different times of day to see which time feels right. Maybe you’re bursting with inspiration when you first wake up or maybe you need some time to decompress and get your thoughts out before bed.
Find a reliable time that works for you and then stick to it. If you can, make it a part of your day that you look forward to. Journaling shouldn’t be a chore, but a moment of self-care that you know will make you feel better, and by extension, will help you be a better friend, partner, roommate, or parent during this very strange time.
Your journal is a private, free space where you can express your thoughts and feelings without worrying about the judgment of others. But it can be hard to turn off our own inner critic when it’s time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).
One way to cut your inner critic off before she can butt in is to try freewriting. Set a timer for five minutes, and then write down your thoughts as they pop into your head. Don’t evaluate your thoughts or assess them, just get them down on the page. This is the lowest of low-stakes writing.
At first, five minutes will feel like forever, and you may find yourself just writing “I don’t know what to write” over and over again, but, eventually, something more interesting will come to you. And, if it doesn’t, you can try again tomorrow.
Start Writing, Right Now
Not sure how? Here are ten prompts to try.
1. Set your intentions. Why did you start this journal? Why are you writing? What do you hope to get out of your time spent journaling?
2. Practice gratitude. During uncertain times like these, making a list of all of the things we’re grateful for can boost your mood and give you some perspective.
3. Missing someone? Write a little bit about someone that you miss seeing. Highlight their best characteristics, jot down a favorite memory, or write them a letter.
4. Mini-rant. It’s important sometimes to just get our feelings out. Set a timer for five minutes and write about one thing (or everything) that’s driving you bonkers while practicing social distancing. Then, when the time’s up, try to let it go.
5. I’m learning ______. Start a journal entry with this phrase and write about something you’re learning during this time period. This could be a new skill or something new you’re learning about yourself.
6. Get Creative. Try writing a poem, short story, or scene. Or, draw a picture, or do some abstract doodling. Anything to help you explore your creative side.
7. Laugh it up. When was the last time you laughed? Write about it. If you feel like it’s been a while, take a minute to find something to make you smile.
8. I wish ______. Sometimes we find ourselves trapped in our homes and really wishing we could drink a crisp, refreshing beer on a patio somewhere with our friends. Give yourself space to fantasize about what you might do when self-isolation is no longer the norm.
9. Make a silly list. Try to list all of your childhood pets, or all of the foods you ate on your last vacation, or all of the movies you’ve ever seen.
10. Set a goal. Use your journal to track your progress on a specific goal. Create a table or chart to fill in daily. Or, keep an activity log.
Let your journal be a place for you to truly be yourself and enjoy the time you spend with your thoughts and feelings. You deserve it.