The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives dramatically and it’s completely understandable if we feel confused and overwhelmed at times. Writing your thoughts and feelings down on paper is a great way to contain your sense of anxiety and gain a new perspective.
Journaling can help you maintain positive mental health and reduce your stress levels by providing a healthy way to express yourself. It helps you feel more in control and enhances your sense of awareness.
The focus when journaling compared to keeping a diary, is less on what you’re doing and more on how you are feeling during a specific period of your life.
Especially when dealing with stress, the act of writing helps as it requires cognitive and rational effort and hence helps to counterbalance those moments when we feel swept off our feet by the intensity of our emotions.
Through writing your thoughts and feelings down you are allowing yourself to express what is alive in you and are making time to reflect on what you’re experiencing in the present moment.
Journaling can be used as a mindfulness activity, as well as a creative outlet.
Going back and reading your journal can also help you notice triggers and details that you might have missed when you were in the midst of it all. In time you might also notice any shifts you’ve made, or any patterns of behaviour you weren’t aware of which you might wish to change.
Let’s start journaling!
When – Try to be consistent and set the intention to write regularly in your journal. Ideally, you’d set aside a few minutes every day to write. This will help you create a positive habit faster. The author Julia Cameron, in her best seller book, The Artist’s Way, promotes the act of writing a ‘Morning Pages Journal’ as one of most effective tools for cultivating creativity, personal growth and change.
How – Choose a nice pen and journal to write in or, if you prefer writing on your phone, iPad or PC, create a specific folder for your reflections. Make the act of writing something enjoyable and easy. Choose a relaxing spot and turn it into a ritual for yourself and your wellbeing, maybe make yourself a cup of your favourite tea for the occasion.
What – The best part of journaling is that you can write whatever you want. There is no right or wrong thing to write about. This is a place where you can exercise not judging yourself, nor worrying about what other people might think of what you write. Your writing doesn’t need to have any particular structure or theme. This is a space for you to freely express what feels true in the moment, regardless of coherence, spelling mistakes or typos.
Journaling is a useful tool that helps you to get to know yourself better, gain deeper understanding and clearer insight. It helps with managing anxiety, reducing stress levels and coping with low mood.
Writing regularly creates a space for self-reflection where you can more easily identify negative thoughts and behaviours. It supports you to prioritise, identify triggers and find ways to deal with them better. Once you’ve identified what you find challenging, you can more easily create a plan to solve the issues and enhance your wellbeing.
The pure act of writing will offer you an emotional outlet and will foster your creativity. You can also use your journal for drawings, doodles and collages. These are all great ways to relax your mind and enhance positive mental health.
Author: Sarah Speziali, Chief Therapist at InsideOut