We all have a lot to process right now. Writing in a journal can reduce anxiety and stress and help us keep a record, and perspective, of this unprecedented time in our lives.
By now, we’ve all heard the warnings against spending too much screen time. From interrupted sleep schedules and a decrease in the quality of our sleep to increased depression and anxiety, staring at our phones — especially the endless scroll of social media apps — is harmful to our health, not to mention our social skills. And yet, try as I might, I continue to be horrified by my phone’s daily and weekly screen time reports (three hours? How?).
Because I work in social media and am generally on the internet, avoiding screen time, all the time, is out of the question for me. But especially during these socially-distanced times, I find myself turning to my phone as a distraction and way to connect when I’m unable to see family and friends IRL. It’s a habit I’m working to break, and one strategy I’ve found to be not only effective, but actually motivating during this uncertain time, is journaling.
Almost as soon as our stay-at-home orders were implemented, I was drawn to pick up my journal — something I hadn’t done in months — to document this unprecedented time in our lives. These past few weeks have brought up a lot of feelings as I worry about family and friends, grieve the relatively easy life that I lived before, and imagine what life will look like after. Interestingly, it turns out that writing down the day’s thoughts isn’t just good for clearing my head, the benefits of journaling could help counteract the effects of all that screen time.
Some of the positive effects of keeping a journal include:
- Reduced anxiety as you process your life
- Support for those suffering from depression
- Effective stress management
- A tool for working through fears and concerns
Considering what the world is going through, I’m willing to bet we can all relate to at least few of those points right now. When everything gets to be too much, writing it all out can be cathartic, a way to ease your mind by moving thoughts from your head to the page. If nothing else, writing out your experiences creates a record of what your life is like now, so that you can look back on it later and remember the feeling of this moment in time. If you’ve ever flipped through old letters or sorted through pictures from elderly family members or friends with fascination, think of your current journal as a future record of the world’s events happening right now.
But if you’re new to journaling, starting out may feel a little intimidating. All those empty pages! So much pressure! For those who struggle when it comes to starting a daily journaling practice, meet your new best friend: the five-minute journal. You may have heard of this handy technique, where essentially, the five-minute journal provides simple prompts you fill each day. While there are official five-minute journals available to buy for instant gratification, making your own is easy and could provide more room for creative expression. All you need is a blank journal and some colorful pens — the rest is up to you. Read on for the steps, then be sure to share your own journal creations with us on social!
- Blank journal or notebook
Tip: Remember to consider whether lined pages or blank pages work best for your needs
- Colored pens & pencils
- Ruler (if journal or notebook is unlined)
- Glue stick & colored paper or magazines for collage
- Watercolor paints
- If your journal is unlined, use your ruler to create lined pages.
Tip: Consider leaving some pages blank for unstructured journaling, including collages, watercolors, pencil drawings, adding photos, writing without lines — whatever your heart desires.
- Consider adding prompts on some of your lined pages to get your mind in a creative space.
Prompts could include:
- Three things you’re grateful for.
- What went well that day.
- What you would have changed about the day and how you could have changed it.
- Things you’re excited about.
- Daily affirmations.
- Favorite quotes.
- On blank pages, add a prompt for something to draw.
- If your journal has an interior pocket, get in touch with your childhood self and tuck some colorful stickers inside to use when you need a fun pick-me-up.
- Use your colored pens to add color to your pages.
When your journal is ready, keep it somewhere handy to make it easy to add to your routine. Consider taking a few minutes before bed to jot down thoughts from the day, or set aside your phone while you sip your morning coffee and pick up your journal instead to spend a few moments setting the tone for the day ahead.
Share your DIY five-minute journals or your favorite prompts with us on social by tagging @AvocadoMattress and #AvocadoGreenMagazine!
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