As we near the end of 2020, we can acknowledge that the past year has been a difficult and often shocking one for everyone. It has been a whirlwind of concerning news updates, major life changes, worrying about ourselves and our loved ones, and having to figure out how to adapt to our new reality—one shaped largely by the COVID-19 global pandemic and its consequences.
Amidst this chaos, we need to find and take advantage of all the possible ways to create some sense of order and self-control. We need ways to process everything happening around us and achieve clarity, to manage our stress and anxiety, to organize ourselves, and to healthily tackle the challenges ahead of us. We need something to help us stay present when it feels like everything around us is falling apart.
One way to do this is to keep a journal.
Journaling can be incredibly valuable as a self-care practice. It can be thought of as a conversation with yourself, in which you process what you are feeling and thinking in reaction to the things happening around you. It will help you get to know yourself better, as you become more aware of your mind, body, and feelings. It can even help you problem-solve, as seeing the challenges you’re facing written out in front of you can take away from their overwhelming power, and you may begin to see a solution rise to the surface.
Sometimes just thinking about things isn’t enough, considering that you can’t stop your thoughts from spouting off in different directions, and mere thoughts don’t amount to anything concrete. Writing what you’re thinking on paper forces you to stop for a moment and reflect, to take the time to step back from your life and look within yourself. And once everything is written down, you have a physical record of your thoughts from a specific period of time, which you can look back on later and use to find important patterns and growth in your life.
Research studies have proven that journaling has numerous health benefits: it greatly reduces stress, boosts mood, grants a greater sense of emotional well-being and happiness, improves immune functions, and strengthens overall emotional health. Keeping a journal can also strengthen your writing and communication skills, improve your memory, and help you find inspiration and unleash your creativity.
Moreover, there are no rules to journaling—you don’t have to follow a strict schedule or format—which means you can begin the process at any given time and in any form you would like. Seeing that journals are private, you can free yourself from any restraints and write uncensored.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting quarantine have led to a stressful and difficult (if not traumatic) year for everyone, which has taken a significant toll on mental health. We can’t control what happens in the world around us, but we can control our reaction to it—we can work towards staying calm and healthy amidst it all. During these uncertain times, journaling is a convenient and effective way to maintain and improve mental health and well-being.