In January 2021, 41% of adults surveyed in the US reported symptoms of anxiety and/ or depressive disorders. A number that’s gone up from the previous year, it’s an indication of the global distress caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has raised several worrying questions for many of us about health, work, economic security, childcare, and so on.
A practice that can help us mitigate anxiety and find perspective: journaling. When done consistently, it reduces stress levels, provides greater mental clarity, and improves immunity. It’s a practice worth adopting, especially if going through a personally challenging phase or even trying to achieve a goal.
What can go into your journal and how can you put it to use? Here are some ways in which you can make ‘dear diary’ a part of your routine:
- Gratitude journal
- Best suited for: those who want to develop a more positive mindset and find perspective, but don’t have enough free time to write extensively.
- How to maintain it: as the name suggests, keeping a gratitude journal comes down to recording anything in your day that made you happy and grateful. It could be something as simple as drinking a good cup of coffee or having a good day at work. You could use a notebook to record the happy instances or even use your phone to capture pictures and videos. What’s essential here is that you set aside a few minutes to recollect the happy moments and remember that even on the toughest of days, there’s something to smile about.
- Project journal
- Best suited for: those who want to track their progress on a project or goal; helps capture details to reflect upon.
- How to maintain it: you can experiment a fair bit here. Some people keep it simple by using ticks and crosses to indicate the completion of the task, while others write a line or two about the progress made every day or once a week. Project journals are useful to monitor personal tasks like setting up a garden or doing up a house. People even use them to track habits like drinking water or to check progress towards fitness goals.
- Daily log
- Best suited for: those who want to better manage their stress, anxiety, or irritability, and can set aside time to journal every day.
- How to maintain it: this is the age-old tradition of logging most of the events that govern your day and is like maintaining a diary. Some people merely list all the events. Others make brief points of an event, reflect and write their thoughts about it, and move on to the next event. This helps express feelings and emotions, and improve mindfulness. Over a period, you might start noticing patterns in your thoughts or behaviour that you can work on to reduce your overall stress levels.
What is important to remember while taking up journaling is that you do not have to be skilled at writing or art to journal, you just need to start. As the famous Russian saying goes, “paper suffers everything” and in many cases, our phones too!