Journaling prompts for the lockdown life

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Let’s get straight into it. You are in lockdown, or in a semi-lockdown. You are spending a lot more time with yourself and in your own head. You want to journal, but don’t know what to write about or how to get started. No problem. These prompts will get you going. Just pick one at random, or use them in order. Use multiple prompts in the same session or do one a day. It doesn’t matter. Just go with it, and enjoy the process.

Journaling prompts 

  1. Have you enjoyed spending time in your home during the lockdown? Why or why not? Be specific and focus on the details and on your feelings. What do you like or dislike about your home or the people you live with? Are your surroundings comfortable? Do you crave more company or do you find this relative solitude refreshing?
  2. How have you used the lockdown time so far? All the time that you might have spent going to work, school, meeting friends, socialising, what have you done with it instead? 
  3. What is the one new thing you’ve learned during this lockdown? This can be anything?—?a skill, or a new way of doing things. For example, I acquired a whole new level of cooking skills and actually learned to enjoy cooking. Perhaps you learned a new language or learned to bake bread, or maybe you learned how to use Zoom. Whatever it is, write about it. How do you use it? Do you enjoy it? Were you forced into learning it? 
  4. How do you feel about how your government and the governments across the world have handled lockdown? Do you keep tabs on government updates? How does that make you feel? 
  5. Do you think other people are going through the same experience? Or is everyone’s experience different depending on their personal situation?
  6. How long did it take you to set into “the lockdown mode”? Have you settled in now?
  7. Do you feel anxious about having to resume a normal life, or are you excited? What about the “new normal” of wearings masks, cleaning hands, and maintaining social distance? 
  8. Has this lockdown made you reevaluate any part of your life? What changes are you going to make as a result of that?
  9. Has this lockdown made you reevaluate your relationships? What changes are you going to make as a result of that? 
  10. How do you feel on most days? Are you worried? Anxious? Are you feeling positive? What are you thinking about? What are you focusing on?
  11. Do you exercise regularly during the lockdown? What exercise do you do? How does that make you feel? 
  12. How do you feel about video calls? Do you spend a lot of time on them? Are they a good replacement for social contact? Or merely a useful work tool?
  13. Do you wear a mask when you go out? How do you feel about it? 
  14. Think about the person you were in February. Has anything changed since then? Do you feel that when the world does return to normal, you will do things differently than you did before? 
  15. What are you grateful for? List at least 10 things, and explain why.
  16. Who has made you laugh during this lockdown? 
  17. What books/tv shows/films have you enjoyed? 
  18. What do you miss the most about not being able to go out? 
  19. Are there any aspects of lockdown life that you see as positives? (i.e. not having to commute on a crowded tube)
  20. What is the one lesson you have learned? It can be a lesson about the world, about life, or just about yourself and how you want to do things.  

Action you can take today

Grab a pen and a journal and start journaling with these prompts. Whether you use them in order or at random, doesn’t matter. Just journal and enjoy the process.

 

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 exercise: challenging your mindset in challenging times

I’ve been facing some personal challenges recently. Unexpected twists and turns that threw all my plans aside, forced me to shift priorities, and focus on things that I didn’t want to focus. That’s also one of the reasons why I haven’t been able to post here regularly, though that will hopefully change. I miss interacting with you guys, but also more importantly, regardless of what else is happening, I want to keep giving you journaling goodness, and inspiring your journaling journeys. 

Forced change is never pleasant, but it is what it is, and has to be dealt with accordingly. So today’s exercise reflects that: 

In your journal, answer this question: 

When was the last time you were forced into an unexpected, unwanted situation? What was it? What was your initial reaction? What did you then do to resolve it? How did you feel afterwards?

Do you believe now that whatever happened, happened for the best? Do you believe in that positive outlook that everything eventually turns out for the best? 

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:

Do the above journaling exercise. Be honest with yourself. About your reactions to the situation, and about how you felt. Don’t sugarcoat anything.

 

Questioning one’s beliefs

Question Mark, Question, Response, Search Engine

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I like intelligent people. I like intelligent conversations. I dread being around boring people. I’ve always thought that I would prefer talking to an intelligent asshole, rather than boring nice people. But lately, I’ve come to realize that it’s not as black and white as I thought.

Here’s the thing – niceness is underrated. We don’t actually realize how pleasant it is to be around nice people until we come across people who are really unpleasant to be around.

Of course, like anything, it’s a spectrum. We can go from Sainthood to Absolutely Evil, and everything in-between. Most of us would fall in somewhere in-between. Most of us are also different, depending on where we are, who we are talking to, and what we are doing. What I’ve always preferred about intelligence is intellectual stimulation. You can have a fun conversation that engages your mind. Sense of humour can be sharp and subtle. You don’t need to dumb it down. It engages your brain. It touches, responds to, and engages your own intelligence.

But…

Niceness or lack thereof touches, responds to and engages your heart. And that’s where my realization comes in. When someone is incredibly selfish, or incredibly unpleasant, or just an asshole, it creates an emotional response in us. We can see all of their strengths, capabilities, and even admire them, but those are diminished because we don’t want to be around them. Because they don’t make us feel good about ourselves. They create negative emotions such as anger, sadness, disappointment, frustration.

Nice people, on the other hand, create positive emotions, such as joy, warmth, encouragement, faith in humanity. Emotions that make us want to be with them. That makes us like the idea of being with people.

I’m not implying that intelligence has ceased to matter, but rather than I find more and more as I grow older that there are less black and white things. I can see different sides of things than I did when I was younger. Some things still remain absolutes. Some moral codes, for example, should never be transgressed upon. But overall, I believe that what really one needs is a constant reflection and assessment of one’s beliefs. If they stand the test of time, all the good. But if they don’t, then it’s time for a change.

 

Journaling exercise: are you self-centred?

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Too much self-centered attitude brings isolation. Result: loneliness, fear, anger. The extreme self-centered attitude is the source of suffering.

Dalai Lama

I had a conversation recently with someone who is going through a rough period, but what I noticed was that every single sentence was about them. Even when they were trying to talk about not hurting someone else, their sentence was phrased such:

“I don’t want to feel guilty for hurting my loved ones.”

Notice the sentence pattern. First, it begins with an ‘I’. That’s not bad necessarily. You could say, “I don’t want to hurt my loved ones.” or “I want to behave better towards my loved ones.”

But that’s not what that sentence does. It clarifies that the person doesn’t want to feel guilty for hurting their loved ones. So its’ not so much hurting others they are worried about, but feeling guilty for it.

Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t talking about a horrible human being here. This person doesn’t actually want to hurt anyone. However, their focus is all on them. All they are thinking about is how it would make THEM feel if they hurt someone. Their focus is entirely on self, but superficial self. The outside self, not the inner self where self-awareness exists and makes you take stock of your behaviour and allow you to change it.

Self-centeredness can take many forms, from above where one is the sole emotional focus of one’s thoughts, to where one is deliberately using others for one’s benefit and all the degrees in between. It is also possible that you may not even be aware of how self-centred you are.

I believe in general human goodness, and I don’t think most people actually want to be self-centred. I think most people do want to be able to give and receive affection, have healthy relationships – but not everyone is consciously working on overcoming their internal triggers and limitations to achieve that. So that’s what this exercise is about. If you find that you are self-centred, or more self-centred than you thought, that doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person. Awareness is the key. You need to know exactly who you are in order to determine if you want to continue being that, or if some changes/improvements are needed. 

So ask yourself these questions:

  • When you are talking to other people, particularly people close to you, how often “YOU” are the sole focus of your conversation?
  • Do you ask someone, “How do you feel?” or “How are you?” and actually listen to them, or you can’t wait to get to your part of the conversation?
  • When considering other people, are you more concerned about how it would make you feel?
  • When talking to other people, are you often thinking about how they annoy/amuse/irritate/adore/inspire you? 
  • Do you find yourself ever thinking of others, in their own right, their problems, just wanting to listen to them for their own sake, because you care?
  • Do you think you are better than others in every way possible? 
  • Do you think you DESERVE everything in life – attention, affection, admiration – without having to give anything in return?

Be honest with yourself as you answer these questions, and give specific examples wherever you can. Don’t just give up at the first try. If you can’t immediately come up with an answer, try again. But answer these questions in as much detail as possible. 

Once you know the extent of your self-centeredness then you can work any changes you think you might need to execute to be the person you want to be.