Journaling through Social & Physical Distancing

by Tiffany Fearon, Research & Policy Manager

Many years ago, journaling used to be a daily activity in my schedule. I would carry a small notebook or diary with me to work or on long commutes and I would write “note to self’s”, ideas, and reminders. As my list of responsibilities grew overtime, I forgot about the value of journaling, especially during stressful times. With the massive changes that have occurred in the past few weeks due to COVID-19, I have set my eyes back on writing out my thoughts as a way to decompress and recalibrate after tackling daily tasks. Bottling up emotions can have a detrimental impact on our emotional, mental, and physical health, especially when things feel out of control. This personal blog post is going to highlight some of the benefits of using journaling as an outlet on a regular basis.

A journal will always be available to “hear you out”

There are times when speaking to someone about what you’re experiencing just isn’t possible. It could be a matter of schedules not syncing up with your close pal for a call, or feelings of anxiety and self-doubt due to the topic on your mind. A private journal whether it’s handwritten or electronic is always accessible. You don’t have to put a limit on the amount of pages you write, set a time to pick it up, or feel uncomfortable expressing your own thoughts.

A journal helps to sort out thoughts and emotions

My father taught me a useful hack when I first entered the working world many years ago. In the occasion of receiving an email or correspondence that didn’t sit well with me, he told me that I should prepare a response and not hit send. The key was to write out my feelings in that moment, walk away, and give myself a day to revisit the topic. When I did use this hack, I realized that by the next day, I no longer felt bent out of shape and was able to respond in a poised manner. The reason I bring this lesson up is because the same can be said about journaling everyday interactions that we find unsavory. Sometimes it’s better to get our thoughts and emotions in order before we respond hastily to something someone has said. Especially now, as we are all experiencing dramatic and sudden changes to our schedules and routines, it’s worth it to step back and allow ourselves to journal our experiences and then act accordingly.

A great memory boost

Our brains store a vast amount of information every second of the day. I find it helpful to make a note of new words, the names of authors, or clever ideas in my personal notebook. Writing things down in the moment allows our brains to make connections and assist with recalling that information at a later time. Now more than ever, I’m happy I made notes of binge worthy programs suggested by my FCO team!

An attitude of gratitude

Journals are a great outlet for writing out what we’re grateful for. With the escalation of COVID-19 and the need for physical distancing, I have a new found appreciation for many of my everyday activities. Although I have taken the time to validate my own feelings of stress and fatigue as I navigate a new routine for both myself and my family, I have been able to note down all of the things I look forward to doing again.

Journaling, via any medium is a great resource to record thoughts, goals, ideas, and emotions in one place anytime and anywhere. I sincerely hope this post will inspires some of you to consciously release any stress, anxiety, or frustration you may be feeling into a safe space you can call yours. There are many benefits to keep a journal; you’ll discover more and more once you start!

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