Journaling prompts for the lockdown life

Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash

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.

 

3 ways to use journaling to cope with coronavirus

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Photo by Yohann LIBOT on Unsplash

I use journaling to face just about any problem in life. It’s my first go-to solution, and it has worked for me for years. I use journaling to focus on my personal growth, my mental health, and my professional growth to name a few areas. I also use it for my ever-changing hobbies. 

Last few months have been hard for everyone. We suddenly found ourselves in a strange world. We found our global world retreating within stately borders. While we’ve all been in the same pandemic, we’ve not experienced it the same way. Some people have lost their loved ones, others have lost their livelihood. Some people have discovered new hobbies, others have found more quality time with their families. People’s experiences have varied from extreme ends of positive to negative spectrum, and everything in-between. But even if you haven’t suffered any personal tragedies, if you are like most people, it is impossible to ignore tragedies happening around us. It is impossible not to think of some messed-up dystopian future when you step outside of your home and see people wearing masks?—?and view the world as what we are now calling “the new normal”. 

It’s too soon for “the new normal”. Our memories are not that short. We may have gotten used to the lockdown and staying at home, washing hands more than usual, and taking precautions when we go out, but many of us still long for the world where we didn’t worry about any such thing. Where a global pandemic was something that existed either in history or in fiction. 

But it is our present, and while there is not much I can do about the state of the world, I can do something about the state of my mind. And I can also help you do something about the state of yours. Just grab a journal and a pen and get started. These three exercises are incredibly effective.

But before we get into the exercises, set yourself up properly. Sit comfortably, and somewhere you won’t be disturbed. Grab your journal, or if you don’t have a regular journal, grab a notebook. I highly recommend writing by hand. If you want to know why, check out this post on hand-written journaling versus e-journaling.

Then start writing. 

Mind dump 

This is free writing at its best. Set a timer and just write. I recommend setting a timer for 7 minutes. It’s just short enough to not feel daunting but long enough for you to get into the flow. At the end of those 7 minutes, you may find that you still want to keep writing. Keep going. 

Mind dump means writing rather than thinking. Your paragraphs don’t have to make sense. Your words don’t need to be spelt perfectly. Just let the words tumble out. Write with your heart. Write your worries, your fears, your hopes, your dreams, even the petty argument you had with your loved one. It doesn’t matter what you write about. Let your subconscious dictate that. This is about the emotional release and letting out the frustration. 

Depending on what you are focusing on, you may feel a number of different emotions. You may feel a sense of relief as if you have just vented. You may feel down if you have focused on painful memories. You may feel relieved if you have written things down that put things into perspective. You may feel happy if you wrote about the positive things happening in your life, or just in your mind. Some problems are genuine. Others are fixable by changing perspective. But this exercise is not about fixing anything. It’s just about letting it all out. 

Make a list of things that are worrying you

During this time, this is important. Collectively, we are all worried about coronavirus and its impact. But on an individual level, people are worried about many different things. We are not going through an identical experience. Depending on where you live, who you live with, how much money you have, what other challenges you face, what job you have, and numerous other factors, your experience and your worries are unique to your situation. So make a list of things that are worrying you. But be very specific. Don’t just say “I’m worried about coronavirus.” Why are you worried about coronavirus? Are you vulnerable and at a higher risk? Are your loved ones? Are you worried about coronavirus’ impact on your child’s education? Are you worried about losing your business? Whatever it is, be very specific. 

The point of this is to burst the bubble of vague fear. There is so much negativity in the media that it’s impossible not to be worried about everything and feel like the world is going to end. But we are here, and life continues. So instead of focusing on a big cloud of fear that just follows you all day, break down your worries, make them specific. 

You may find then that some of those worries are small things that perhaps you don’t need to worry about. It might identify some worries that you can fix. For example, if you are worried about being made redundant, perhaps you can start preparing and brush up your CV. Maybe you can start thinking of ways to make small money on the side. 

That is not to say that all your worries are baseless. They are not. But this list should help you identify which worries deserve your mental energies and which ones don’t. 

Gratitude 

It’s important to end on the positive. Especially when you are surrounded by negativity and fear. 

For this exercise, make a list of at least 10 things that you are grateful for. If anything, coronavirus has reminded us that things many of us take for granted, like health, are not available to everyone. If you are healthy, you’ve something to be grateful for. If you are healthy and have a safe roof over your head and enough food, you are very lucky. If you have all of that, and people who love you, you are massively fortunate. Appreciate that. 

Yes, problems are relative. Just because you have those things doesn’t mean you have to be content with your lot in life. You are still allowed to want more things, strive for things, complain about things. But during this exercise, just focus on what you have, rather than what you don’t have. 

Make that list. Say “Thank you” out loud, after you write each point. Just be present in that moment, as you thank god, the universe, whatever for each of those things. It will make you feel better. 

Action you can take today

What are you waiting for? Go do those exercises. And if you are really committed, do them at least once a week. The gratitude one, I recommend at least 3 times a week.

 

Sometimes you need a break…and it’s okay.

 

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Have you ever felt like simply not doing something even though you wanted to? Have you felt lack of motivation, or lack of ideas, or lack of energy? Have you decided at times that you can’t be bothered?

You are not alone. It happens to all of us, and for the most part, it’s okay. Sometimes you just need a break.

It’s been a while since I wrote here. At least couple of times a week I thought about writing a new article here. It wasn’t the shortage of ideas. It wasn’t the shortage of belief in the power of journaling. But for some reason, I just couldn’t bring myself to write anything here. I felt I was being lazy, not good to my readers, that maybe I had nothing left to offer. But at the same time, I knew it wasn’t true because I’ve tons of drafts and ideas, and I am still going on about journaling to anyone who would listen.

I still journal, still see the benefits of it and still miss it when I haven’t done it for a while. But something wasn’t right.

I felt that there were too many things on my must-do list. Too many things I was trying to achieve at the same time. That is probably never going to change, but from time to time, you just have to take a step back and reassess your priorities. That’s what happened to the blog. There were too many admin issues going on that were taking up my time and energy, so I decided to shut down Kaizen Reading. I decided that I didn’t need to have a separate blog about reading and its advantages and that I could consolidate it with my writer blog at dollygarland.com. But journaling still needed to be expressed. This helps people. This brings us journalers together. And besides, Kaizen Journaling means way too much to me, and I’ve put so much effort into this, that I knew I couldn’t stop doing it. But a break – even unplanned one – was okay.

Because sometimes, you just can’t be bothered to do something. I didn’t want to force this. This is what I love. Yes, sometimes when you lovely people buy my courses or books, it earns me a little money – but for the most part, this is a labour of love. And I want it to continue to be so.

It was good to have the break, to get some perspective, and to decide how I see Kaizen Journaling now and in future. Because talking about journaling here is kind of like my own journaling. Sometimes, I may take a break but I will always come back.

I hope you give yourself a chance to have a break when you need it too. Even if what you need a break from is important to you.

 

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:

Decide if you need to take a break from something to gain some perspective. Or journal if you have taken a break, and how did that work out for you?