The Importance of Journaling During Stressful Times – Coronavirus Edition
For many, journaling can be a challenge to even begin. It can often be a daunting experience and can sometimes require you to be a bit more candid than you might otherwise be used to. Depending on the topic you want to journal about, it can be understandably difficult to force yourself to relive what was or is a stressful situation and find the introspection that your mind needs to heal. However, that is what journaling is much to its core; healing through the process of writing down and expressing yourself on paper, taking what was once just thought and turning it into something more physical.
By now, whether you’re in the United States, the UK, Japan or anywhere else on the planet, you’ve no doubt been impacted by the Coronavirus in some form or another. It’s quite literally an issue that affects everyone on the planet, some more than others. Given that, it’s natural to be experiencing a range of stress regarding how it has impacted your life whether it’s worrying about elderly or younger family members or friends, or those who you’re close to working on the front lines in hospitals, grocery stores or any other job that requires interaction with others on a daily basis. Read on below as we highlight why you want to be journaling during stressful times and how it’ll help you your entire life.
How Journaling Heals the Mind
Journaling gives you the opportunity to take that stress and address it head on allowing you to process your thoughts in a more organized manner than by meditating, exercising, or even speaking with a friend, family member or therapist. Once on paper, it’s far easier to reread what you’ve written out as many times as you need, erase and rewrite or even just toss out what you’ve written altogether.
Writing has been proven to improve overall cognitive function in a handful of ways due to the nature of combining body and mind that no other activity can. Not only do you remember what you’ve written down more efficiently, it has also been proven to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression all while increasing overall happiness simply by expressing yourself, which is an activity most people are reserved about.
When it comes to journaling, you can keep it as private as you need, getting out your deepest, darkest thoughts that might otherwise stay buried out in the open so to speak. It can be difficult to even begin addressing these thoughts as they can sometimes be so negative, your mind effectively prevents your own self from addressing them, repressing them until the metaphorical dam bursts.
It’s not just expressing the bad however, even expressing the good is important and beneficial to everyone. Simply acknowledging you had a good day, did a good deed, helped your neighbor, got 8 hours of sleep or cooked a new meal is healthy for the brain. It’s not often we congratulate ourselves for our own accomplishments and it’s an important bit to do every so often to remind ourselves just how far we’ve grown as a person.
Where to Begin Journaling
As with this article, it can be hard to know where to begin journaling. What do you write about? To be frank, it can be about anything and everything, though we understand a bit of direction is needed every once in awhile whether you’ve been journaling for your entire life or are starting for the first time ever.
With regards to journaling during stressful times and the Coronavirus, how has it affected you? As we mentioned above, are you worrying about your friends and family? Write down the name of each person you’re worried about and why you’re worried about them. If you’re up to it, take it one step further afterward and let them know you are, we’re sure they’ll be happy to know they’re in your thoughts. Have you perhaps been let go? It’s a delicate topic, we know, but even more reason to address it and process your feelings directly. Maybe you’re just worried you might lose your job, a worry that would stress anyone. Write down how it stresses you, but also what you might do if that did happen. Position your thoughts in a more positive manner.
Often we feel cemented into our careers when the truth is anything but. Write down your dream job, how you think you could achieve it, what needs to be done to achieve it, etc. then take that one step further as well and work on your resume and send it out to employers in that job field. Worst case they say no, but you never know! If the do, follow up and see if they have recommendations on what you might be lacking, you simply won’t know unless you make the effort to find out.
For more general topics to write about, consider how your day has been, how your week has been, your month or your year so far. How was the weather today? What did you dream about? What do you think those dreams meant if anything? What do you want to do once out of “quarantine”? Where do you want to travel? Why there? What hobbies would you be interested in doing? See what we are getting at? It can literally be anything that comes to mind, there is no wrong answer when it comes to expressing yourself.
Still Looking For Some Direction?
If you’re still stuck, The Center for Journal Therapy has simplified where to begin by turning the word “write” into an acronym to help you get in the mindset to be journaling during stressful times of any occassion that comes to be.
W – Think about what you want to write about. Remember it can be anything on your mind. There is no wrong answer here. A good day, a bad day, someone you love, someone you hate, it’s complete up to you.
R – Reflect on what it is that you want to write about. The Center for Journal Therapy suggests starting with “I” statements like “I feel, I want, I think, etc.” and keeping your statements to what is affecting you at this very moment, though the time period you want to reflect on isn’t strict if you’ve been stressing about the past or future, feel free to write about it.
I – Dive deep and investigate all aspects about the topic you’re writing about. Try to stay on topic if your mind wanders, but if you do find your mind wandering to other areas, that might just be your mind giving you hints on what else has been on your mind, consciously or subconsciously. Go exploring!
T – Time yourself and try to write for at least 5 minutes. We don’t mean 5 consecutive minutes of straight writing, though if you can do that, don’t stop yourself either, but give journaling the shot it and your mind needs to express itself. 5 minutes a day keeps the negativity away!
E – Have an exit strategy. During the course of your writing, you may have noticed you learned something about yourself, your situation or the way you’re thinking about both. Take note of those feelings and thoughts and leave yourself a path for the next time you journal for where you might want to write about.
To Wrap on Why Journaling Is Important for Stress
All of what you just read is a suggestion and in our opinion, why journaling during stressful times is important for stress reduction. What works for us, may not work for you or the next person. We know ourselves better than anyone else could. It has been said that we’re trapped with our thoughts, but when you have an out like you do with journaling, the word “trapped” isn’t accurate anymore.
Eventually journaling will become more and more natural requiring less hard thought about where to begin and more introspection to occur. Studies show you’ll sleep better, focus better, eat more regularly, strengthen your immune system as a result and be healthier overall. You have the tools right at your fingertips, so use them!