Journaling in time of coronavirus

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My last journal – My current journal (pretty apt for the times we live in)

How are you all doing? I hope you and your loved ones are well during this strange time that we are living in. Who would have thought, a mere six months ago, that entire world would be experiencing the same crisis. But here we are.

I’ve been in the lockdown for over 4 months now. Things are starting to open in the UK, but I am still cautious about where I go. Things are most definitely not back to normal and I don’t think they will be for a while.

If there was ever a time to journal, this has been it. We’ve all been home, close to our notebooks and pens, with more emotional chaos and uncertainties. I’ve continued to journal as normal. What might surprise you is that my journals include very little information about coronavirus or what’s happening in the world. So from a historical perspective, my journal would be pretty useless. I don’t care, as I am not writing for posterity here.

So why is that? Why not write about what is possibly going to be one of the most significant periods in my life time?

Because I didn’t want to dwell on it. It’s that simple. My day job is all about coronavirus and I focus on it every single day. It takes a lot of energy to do that. And overall, what is happening is quite depressing. News, in general is just a downer. If I were to record all that in my journal, that would be even more time I am spending, dwelling on it. No, thanks.

So instead, I journal about whatever is going on in my head, or things I want to focus on. Sometimes, it is about coronavirus and the state of the world, but more often than not, it’s about personal endeavours, my personal struggles and my personal ambitions.

I also tend to keep my journal a place for positivity. So while I do have rants, and sometimes even have a go at myself for not doing what I set out to do or for not being as good as I set out to be, overall I focus on things I want to do and the person I want to become. This changes of course. It changes depending on mood, but also where I am in life. Indirectly, despite life still being busy on a day-to-day level, coronavirus has given most of us a break (not necessarily a welcome break for all) from our usual routine. It has disrupted the routine of our lives, and forced us into trying something else. It’s not been easy for a lot of people. I’m in more fortunate position than many for just being employed, and having a safe place to stay. I hope you are too. But even then, we all have our individual struggles, and this forced disruption has perhaps also resulted in some forced reflection for some of us. My journals include that as well.

It’s not necessarily changed my life or given me an incentive to do something drastic. But it has forced me to reflect on whether or not I am going in the right direction, whether my current actions are aligned with my long-term goals, and it has allowed me to discover a brand new hobby in cooking, and the joy of that process. All these things make into my journal, and it becomes a mix of both reflection and discovery. So it doesn’t matter if my journals are not going to be historically important, they are helping me in the here and the now. And I think that’s a great way to use your journal.

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:

Journal about your here and now. Where are you in your life? Is that where you want to be? Are you enjoying the process and the journey of where you are? If not – how can you pivot?

 

Journaling to just feel better

Journaling is more about one’s inner life than outer life but you can’t dismiss that our outer life has a lot of impact on our inner life. So when your life, in general, feels difficult, or just too busy, too stressed, too anything – journaling can help.

Today, I am feeling super gloomy. There is no particular reason. Perhaps a multitude of small reasons. I have also been having such a packed summer that I am quite worn out. Yet, there is still no time to just be because of prior commitments. So I turn to my journal. I pour out the words, feelings, sometimes irrational feelings but worth mentioning nonetheless. It’s better than keeping it all in, because if I keep it in, it churns around in my mind, exploding into a bigger thing. It’s better than constantly barraging people in your life with your moaning because really, there is enough gloom around.

So today, I am journaling, just to feel better. There doesn’t have to be anything worthwhile written in there. There doesn’t have to be a stroke of brilliance or great writing skill. It’s not poetry. It’s not literature. It just is. It reflects my mood today, what’s on my mind, and it makes me feel better as I get those words out. 

Your journal can do that for you. It can’t fix everything. It can’t offer you a permanent solution for all your problems. But it can sometimes bring that temporary relief. And sometimes that’s enough to just get you going. 

It’s important to value our feelings. To acknowledge how we feel. Our society is so used to giving the standard answer “I’m fine” that we start doing it even to ourselves. We tell ourselves we are fine. Except that we are not. Lying about how fine we are, only leads to bitterness, which actually makes you less appreciative of the good things you do have. So instead, acknowledge that some days you are not fine. Some days you are just angry, hurt, sad, bitchy, gloomy etc. And get those feelings out. Process them. Give them room to make themselves known in the privacy of your journal, which is your safe space. By doing that, you may also just get to know yourself a bit better. 

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:

Pick up that pen, get your journal, and write your heart out. 

 

How to take emotional inventory in 7 Days

How often do you react in a certain way and then regret it?

How often do you say things in annoyance or anger and then wish you hadn’t? 

Perhaps you don’t even realise it. Perhaps you think it’s perfectly fine to be often annoyed, irritated, or angry. Now think about it – is that really how you want to spend a large part of your day?

Our emotions, our actions, and our emotions tend to be cyclical. If you feel annoyed, you act annoyed. The fact that you act annoyed, actually just feeds that annoyance, making you feel even more annoyed. Instead, if you choose to smile, choose to surround yourself with positive things that make you happy, then the chances of you feeling better are much higher. 

However, most people like to hold onto their annoyance. When they are feeling negative emotions, they don’t want to replace them with positive emotions. 

Most people claim that it’s because they are upset and so cannot feel happy. 

However, exactly the opposite is true. You cannot feel happy because you choose to hold onto your negative feelings. 

I’m not saying that it’s a blanket solution, or that you can be perpetually happy. However, most of the time, at least for day to day small irritations you have a choice of whether to let them get to you or not. It’s easy to let them get to you. It takes some effort, at least in the beginning, to not let them get to you. But the effort is definitely worth it. 

So if you want to start filling your days with a generally positive vibe, then this exercise will be of use. 

Take your emotional inventory

Over a week write down all emotions you feel

Make two columns: Negative emotions and Positive emotions. 

Keep that with you. And throughout the day, whenever you feel one emotion or other, write it down. It doesn’t have to be a long entry, a paragraph, or even a sentence. Just jot brief notes that will remind you of your emotion. 

For example, a man on the train joked = funny / a man pushed me rudely on the train = annoyed 

Just keep a log for a whole week. From the time you wake up until you go to bed.

The following week, have a look at those collected notes: 

What do they tell you? Do they show you a pattern? Do they tell a story of how emotions control your day? Are some days more positive than others? Why? Do you tend to be more positive or more negative? What are your thoughts on this? What can you change? What can you do differently? What can you do more of? 

 

A Lesson in Patience and Positivity

 

 

I’m a pretty positive person. Some of my nearest and dearest may say insanely so. But I’m also a human, and so there are times when certain things or events get me down. They don’t necessarily make me negative, but rather frustrated or impatient (which is certainly one of my flaws). Besides the rather interesting beginning of January, one such thing is my current leg injury.

It’s in the assessment period now, and it could be muscular or a stress fracture. But the point is, I can’t run at all, and even walking is painful. I’d signed up for my first half-marathon back in September – which is now in 6 weeks time. There is no way I can train for it, and be ready. I don’t even know if I will be able to walk it. I’ve another 20km walk booked for next week. I don’t know if I will be able to do that. 

I had fitness plans for January. I was enthusiastic and really motivated to start the New Year with all those plans. But because of this injury, I spent the week doing nothing. I didn’t even get 10,000 steps a day in because I’d to minimize walking. So this has been frustrating me to no end. I get annoyed. I’m impatient. It pisses me off that my body isn’t supporting me when my mind is so ready. 

So today, I decided to go to the gym. Not to do anything stupid – but I figured it was an important psychological step. I could just go, do some light workout, or just work on my upper body. I wasn’t super enthusiastic, mind you. I was still annoyed about my leg. But I went. 

After a slow warm up on elliptical machine which actually did start hurting my leg more (so I stopped), I worked just my upper body and abs with free weights and body weight exercises. The more I got into it, the happier I became. Then, the abs class started, and so I joined in. I’d already done some of those exercises, so at times it was difficult, especially going back into it after a long time away. But got through it. And the more I did, though my body felt it, the happier I felt. 

Because something clicked in. I realised that there was so much I needed to work on. Okay, I can’t do anything about my leg right now. But it doesn’t mean I can’t do anything. There are other areas of my body that need strengthening. The areas I often neglect because I’m focused on my goal of running or combat or something specific. It occurred to me then that this was a good time to learn patience, to be okay with what I could not do, and rather just enjoy and savour what I could do.

Upper body workouts and abs workouts are important, even essential to my overall fitness goals. Building that strength would also make me a better runner, potentially less prone to injuries. The point was, I wasn’t done with all of goals, and all of my areas of improvement. Yes, I couldn’t run. Yes, it’s annoying and frustrating that my leg hurts. But that’s part of life. Shit happens. You have to deal with it. Injuries happen. You need to take time out and look after yourself. Yes, I will lose money on the races, and I will lose my opportunity to participate. But there will be other races. There will be other things. There will be other goals. 

What I don’t want to do is miss this moment, this present, for something I cannot have. I would rather spend this moment on what I can enjoy. I would rather spend it on joy. 

 

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:

Grab your journal and write about what is the one thing in your life where you can use some positivity or perspective change? Are you focusing on what you cannot have, and missing out on what you can have?