Turn Your Attention Inward With Journaling

Stillness. Quiet. Solitude. Are you wondering what to do with it? For the many people practicing “social distancing” through quarantine, this is a new normal. Parents of school-aged children are trying on new hats and giving homeschooling a try, but for adults who live alone, the silence might seem deafening.  

News reports about the coronavirus pandemic seem to hint at a long, long road ahead. Here at Boomer headquarters, we are following the mandate of Nevada Governor Sisolak who ordered the closing of ‘nonessential’ businesses and casinos. I am grateful for the ability to continue with my work duties in the comfort of my own home, but for those experiencing layoffs or food scarcity, the anxiety may be debilitating. Many affected Americans have had to make hard decisions in an effort to keep the lights on, pay the rent, and ensure their family members are well looked after. Without any way of gauging just when this situation will be over, you may be wondering when you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel.

My brain struggles when it’s stuck in ‘survival mode.’ Is this true for you, too? When I’m worried about bills, or feel like I’m in a mental loop of doubt and despair, it’s hard to make the kind of decisions that support my highest good. Journaling helps me sort through my mental clutter to move it from my mind to the page, where I can better make sense of things.

If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, I invite you to take a deep dive inward. You’ll only need a writing utensil and paper. 

Something therapeutic – dare I say, magical? – happens when you commit your thoughts to paper. When you move your thoughts, fears, and doubts from your mind, to your fingers, to the paper, you suddenly have a greater capacity to think about what you’re thinking about. The weight of the world is no longer on your shoulders, and your mind and heart feel a bit more free. Expressive writing has even been shown to improve liver and lung function to help the body combat certain diseases and heal faster!

Journaling isn’t limited to the ‘Dear Diary’ moments we had in our youth, but it can be. You can journal to set goals, grieve a lost loved one, relieve stress, strengthen your immune system, reflect on a great day or a bad one, or brainstorm something creative. Maybe one journal entry could focus on budgeting, while another is about a cookie recipe you nailed on the first try. You could list every single thing you’re worried about and set the list on fire (a popular practice amongst journalers). As we’ve learned in these challenging times, life isn’t linear. Journaling can be whatever you need it to be.  

The Center for Journal Therapy encourages you to WRITE in five easy steps:

W ” What do you want to write about?  

R ” Review or reflect on it.  

I ” Investigate your thoughts and feelings.  

T ” Time yourself. Write for 5-15 minutes. Set an alarm.

E ” Exit smart. Re-read what you’ve written and reflect on it.

I have several journals – some reserved for happy times, others for troubling situations that I want to reflect on, and one simply for doodling. Whether you choose to document your thoughts in one journal, or split them up thematically is entirely up to you. That’s the beauty of it – how you make sense of yourself and your circumstances is entirely up to you!  

With journaling, negative thoughts are no longer swirling around in your head free to wreak havoc. They are now real words on real pages. You can organize them, manage them, store them, or destroy them. Journaling is truly empowering. If you’re in need of a topic, start with gratitude. Despite how things appear today, what are you grateful for in this moment? 

A Disclaimer 

Journaling may bring to the surface memories or toxic thought patterns that would benefit from professional counseling or guidance. If you think journaling might open doors to worlds you need help navigating, I encourage you to keep resources and professionals in mind that can help. One way to prevent a downward spiral while journaling is to put a time limit on your journaling session. Set an alarm to act as a signal that it’s time to come up for air.

Be well.