How Journaling Can Help Keep You Sane During Covid & Break Down Writer's Block

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Self

Are you trying to stay sane as you wait out the rest of the pandemic? Try journaling!

One of the many hardships of the Covid-19 pandemic is social isolation.

The surge of mental health issues resulting from the social distancing and quarantine requirements have been well-documented, with some even calling it the "mental health pandemic."

As we look for ways to wrestle with the feelings and emotions that come from having our lives on hold, one especially helpful way to liberate ourselves from negative thoughts is through journaling.

Yes, you may have to get past the connotation of journal writing as an activity associated with lovelorn adolescent girls.

But, in fact, journaling is a practice utilized by some of history’s greatest minds! Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and Marie Curie were all avid journal writers.

You don’t have to be a good writer or even a decent speller to keep a journal. Your journal is meant for your eyes alone.

RELATED: Why Journaling Is The Best Form Of Self-Care + 10 Writing Prompts To Spark Creativity

Journaling is not only good for your mental health but your physical health, as well.

Entire bodies of research have documented the benefits of journaling — not only for mental but also physical health.

The simple act of shifting, processing, and capturing your thoughts — and even venting nagging emotions or disastrous events — has been found to have cathartic effects.

Expressing thoughts in writing can empower you to work through unhelpful thought patterns or come up with solutions for working your way past them. It can even help you find humor in some situations.

If that’s not reason enough to try journaling, there are other well-documented positive effects:

Reduces pent-up stress
Lets go of negative thoughts
Calms and clears your mind
Enhances self-awareness
Promotes a positive frame of mind

As you try to stave off the blues while waiting for an end to the pandemic, give journaling a try.

To get started, commit to writing for at least five minutes, four to five times a week. Don’t be surprised if these journaling sessions soon grow to 10, 15, or even 20 minutes as you start investigating all the pent-up thoughts you’ve been carrying around.

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If staring at a blank page feels intimidating at first, here are 5 ways to get started on journaling and break through your writer’s block.

1. Reflect on what you’re grateful for.

Even in bleak times, you can find aspects of your life for which you can feel grateful. It may be for loved ones, for the comforts of home, or for the gift of life itself.

Focusing on what you have, rather than what you’ve been forced to live without, will help put any sadness into perspective.

RELATED: 3 Reasons Why Journaling And Keeping A Diary Is So Important

2. Chronicle events from the day.

Simply taking time to write down what you accomplished or with whom you made contact through the day can not only improve your memory but help you reflect on any knowledge or insights you may have gained.

3. List and track your goals and dreams.

While it may feel as though pursuing your dreams is on hold until after the pandemic, keeping your goals and dreams front and center through journaling is a way to regularly check-in and keep your thoughts future-focused.

You may even find ways to take action now or fine-tune your strategies.

4. Confront a painful memory.

Often, what causes anxiety are circumstances that cause you to feel mistreated or misunderstood. When these memories weigh you down, journaling is a way to lighten the burden.

Try writing a letter to the person you need to forgive, even if you don’t intend to send it. Work through what it would mean to let go of the hurt.

5. Use mixed media.

If you’re more visual in your form of self-expression, feel free to embellish the pages of your journal with photographs, drawings, pictures from magazines, ticket stubs, pressed flowers, and more.

Doodles, random margin notes, and cartoon-style blurbs are all fair game.

Once you’ve completed each journal entry, read through what you’ve written and then take a few moments to reflect on it.

You may have final thoughts to add or come up with actions to take after you’ve processed your ideas.

RELATED: 30 Journal Prompts To Soothe Stress & Anxiety

Ora Nadrich is a pioneering mindfulness expert, international keynote speaker, and coach, and the founder and president of the Institute for Transformational Thinking. She recently released her Live True Daily Journal: Mindfulness Quotes, Prompts, Tips, and Reminders to Stay Authentically You. Ora has been featured in Fast Company, NBC News, Women’s Health Magazine, and more. Contact her on her website.

This article was originally published at Elephant Journal. Reprinted with permission from the author.