Why Journaling is a Good Idea

We don’t know how or when, but this pandemic will eventually end. And at some point, we will begin to forget the details of this strange time.

Most of us will always remember the big things — the long days at home, waiting in line to enter a grocery store, Zoom visits with family, online schooling, wearing and perhaps sewing masks, daily reports from Dr. Fauci on TV — but will we remember how we felt in the midst of the pandemic? Our hopes, our fears, our worries? What we missed doing, who we missed seeing? Even if you never journaled before, now is a great time to begin. Some day you and your family will appreciate having a personal record of what it was like to live during this pandemic and how you dealt with it. If you’ve ever read old letters written during a war or other historic period, you know what a gift your journaling will be to future generations. Beyond leaving a record, journaling can be cathartic. Writing about your thoughts and feelings can relieve stress and anxiety and lessen the symptoms of depression. It can also help you find needed perspective during a time when it’s easy to lose focus and simply dwell upon all that has been lost.

You can approach journaling in any of numerous ways. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • f you’re comfortable writing by hand, create a paper journal — it may very well become a family heirloom. If digital writing is easier and faster for you, that works, too. Or consider creating a series of audio or video recordings or even writing letters to yourself.
  • If the idea of journaling is daunting, just make a list of phrases that define the pandemic or capture the life you’ve been living: antibacterial gel, self-haircut, essential workers, jigsaw puzzles, curbside pickup, 20-second hand-washing, and so on. Ask others in your household to contribute. Try to include feelings along with details, such as fear of losing my job, frustration trying to teach math or sadness not playing with friends.
  • There’s no need to write every day, but try to write regularly, even if it’s just a few sentences. Your entries can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. Especially if you’re feeling anxiety or stress, you may find that even a minimal amount of expression makes you feel better.
  • For inspiration, CFPS Director Dr. Larry Beer suggests thinking and writing about these questions: How are you managing during this challenging time? What is the hardest part for you (and your family)? Have you found some silver linings? What are you learning about yourself?
  • Ask your kids, parents, grandparents to write down their thoughts, too.
  • Finally, remember that you don’t have to be a “good” writer for a journal. Simply write conversationally about what you’re seeing, experiencing, and thinking as though no one else will read it. Your writing doesn’t have to be perfect or even well thought out — just make it reflect the moment and come from both your head and heart.