There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives in ways both big and small. It’s completely natural to experience a mix of emotions — like stress, anxiety, brain fog and even grief — during a crisis.
Journaling is an incredibly therapeutic way to process those feelings, ground yourself in gratitude and relieve stress. It can help you find your center in this “new normal,” and even bear witness to the history we’re living through. So, without further ado, here’s a few tips for putting pen to paper…
Let Go of Perfectionism
First things first: Your journal is for you and you alone, so don’t worry about trying to sound smart, writerly or composed. It’s also not a to-do list, or a log of your COVID-19 goals.
Things are rapidly shifting, and we’re being challenged to simply “be” instead of “do” — something that doesn’t come naturally to our productivity-obsessed culture. Journaling is a way to help you tap into your “being” and tend to your needs day by day. When you write with unfiltered honesty about what you’re feeling, it can be just as comforting and clarifying as a long talk with a good friend (don’t forget to treat yourself with compassion too, just like a friend!). There’s no room for judgment or comparative suffering here, so try to take it easy on yourself.
Reframe Your Perspective
There’s something inherently healing about confronting the demons in your mind; sometimes, just acknowledging them dissipates the power they hold. At the same time, intentionally looking for the positive can be just as healing. Often, a crisis has the ability to bring out the best of humanity. Reflect on what others have done for you, things that you’re grateful for or the small moments of hope and beauty you’ve observed. Taking note of the good around you can do wonders for your mindset!
Record Your Daily Life
If pouring out your heart in a journal doesn’t come naturally to you, that’s totally okay! Simply record the day’s events, even if it’s as mundane as, “Made a big breakfast for the kids” or “Took the dog for a walk.” Just recording your routine will still be surprising and interesting to you later on, when you look back at this strange moment in time. Plus, as you get comfortable jotting down your thoughts, you’ll likely find that it prompts some emotion, bit by bit.
Tune Into the Present
Mindfulness is all about cultivating an awareness of the present moment, and can be a huge help in taming anxiety. Whenever you’re feeling particularly edgy, find a quiet place to sit with your journal. Create a chart with five sections: Sight, Smell, Taste, Touch and Sound. Then, close your eyes and call to mind a few things under each section that make you feel peaceful and at ease in the world. Maybe it’s the sound of your friends laughing, the taste of your grandma’s famous cookies or the smell of the ocean. Once you’re done, re-create each sensory experience as vividly as you can in your mind’s eye for a dose of instant comfort!
As always, we hope the tips above help you find strength and resiliency in the era of social distancing. We’re all in this together, and can’t wait to see you again when Haven reopens. Don’t forget, we’re also offering virtual classes on Facebook.com/HavenColumbia 🙂