The COVID Diary: Journal your experiences

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Aldina Braganza

I am working on a creative project that involves memories. For that I had to go through my earlier journals.

It was interesting for me to read memories that had slipped my consciousness completely. It was like stumbling on a treasure trove that had this magic ability to take you back in time and savour the moments once again.  I had begun journaling when I was a college student. A youth with big dreams and hopeless emotions and so the freshness of what I read was very heartening. Over the years I maintained this habit, sometimes regularly, other times in phases and still other times that I considered as important events. In a nut shell I am a big fan of journaling. I believe it has many benefits and especially right now. As a human civilization, we are living through a very historical period. Decades later, we and our children would be known as COVID survivors (that is if we survive this but I am being optimistic that we will).

There is a surreal feeling that kind of freaks me every time I venture out. Everybody with a mask on, social distancing, the inability to hug and touch family and friends when we meet them after a long time and the fear that we might infect them or get infected ourselves can be overwhelming. It is like a dark cloud that looms over us waiting to swallow us to the grave.

I am sure every one of you reading this has your version of thoughts trying to wrap your head around the pandemic. Why not

pen it down.

So, today I will share with you some

journaling tips.

Journaling is about writing whatever you are thinking, feeling or going through without any filters. It is totally a private affair with no right or wrong nor judgments. All you need is time and effort.

You might decide to create a folder on your computer and make your entries there, or you could use a note book. My personal favourite is making a journal from old diaries.

You could have one journal or more. You could create sections in the same journal and make different entries. The decision to be creative is yours.

Writer and psychologist, Stephanie Sarkis enumerates some very exciting techniques one could use for their journaling.

Visual journaling: In this technique you create memories from images, maybe a photograph of the lockdown streets, a piece of your first mask, or newspaper cutting of various events that are happening during the COVID pandemic. Images to signify what you are feeling or going through and make an entry of your thoughts against it. It could be some new recipes you learned or how much money you saved by not going out, or the difficulty you had in managing your rations. Ask yourself ‘what lesson have I learned during this lockdown period?’

Another favourite is intuition journaling: We all have had that gut feeling. Try to harness it by journaling about it. Every time you have to make a tough decision ask yourself, what is my gut feeling about this. You will get a reply from within you. Write it down. Later with passage of time go back to your intuition journal and check out the outcome of

that decision. 

Mentor journaling: It involves writing about people who inspire you. Write about what is so special that you admire them. What stops you from becoming like them? I will take this a step further and ask you to look at experiences that teach you something. Every experience bad or good has a lesson.

When you start journaling you will begin to enjoy some benefits.

Journaling helps you declutter. It’s cathartic and lightens the load. It allows you to think a little clearer and make more sense of what you are feeling. Sometimes it is only when we begin to externalise without filters that we become more aware.

You also see that when you go back and read your thoughts, you will notice a pattern. This pattern speaks volumes. It tells us about what are some of the triggers that get us all worked up. How we might have resolved it and probably what might have happened if you had taken another course of action.

Since we write under duress, we get in touch with the source of our stress. At other times we might have made an entry when we are really happy and thus, we get an insight into what brings us happiness.

Journaling is a good self-exploratory tool that gives us a peak into our strengths and weaknesses. It also sets one free of a lot of baggage that you might be carrying without realising.

 An excellent tip while making journal entry is to frame a question and then answer it. For example: What lesson am I learning during this lockdown? 

You need to make time, maybe everyday if you can or once a week or even once a month. Whatever schedule you like to follow make it regular.

Happy journaling!

(Writer is a clinical psychologist,

psychotherapist and HOD of psychology at

Carmel College for Women)