Quarantine Sanity: Journaling

By: Sammy Harris

In case you didn’t read my last post, which was a prelude to my content for the semester, I plan to contribute a ~Quarantine Sanity~ piece each month, which will focus on our mental health by providing versatile mechanisms/habits/activities that you are able to do during this time for YOU. With that said, I am so excited because my first ~quarantine sanity~ activity is journaling, a (healthy) coping mechanism that was my saving grace throughout the six months I spent at home earlier this year.

For a while, I was so afraid to start journaling because I felt like I did not know how to journal ‘right’, but the truth is there is no ‘right’ way to journaling. In fact, the formal definition of the verb journal is to write in a journal and diary, so grab a pen and paper and the limits truly are infinite. Louis L’Amourthe encompasses the art of journaling perfectly when she says: “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” The fact that journaling is truly whatever you want it to be is one of the reasons why it’s so awesome!

I had always said ‘I am going to start journaling’ but never actually got to it, just like I had said I would start meditating and doing yoga and not eating ice cream all of the time. The difference is, I finally faced my fears with journaling (not that I have fears with ice cream by any means), and I just started writing in a vintage journal my mom had bought me months before from a second-hand shop in town.

After I journaled for the first time, I realized that there was nothing to be afraid of, because everything was staying in the journal and not going anywhere else. Eventually, during quarantine, journaling became a habit and I was doing it pretty much every day; when I would start to go in one of those downward spirals about the current state of our world and my lack of control regarding my future, I would turn to my journal and vent in there. Journaling allowed me to take all of my compressed emotions (and if you know me well, there are a lot of those), and unleash them on paper, acknowledge that I had them, and move on from them with a clear head.

In fact, do you know that feeling when you first open up to one friend about something, and then you become more comfortable in your own skin and self-aware with others? My journal was that first friend for me; once I vented to my journal with no arguing back or bias telling me I was right, I slowly opened up to other people about some of my inner demons. As a result, despite being miles away from my best friends over quarantine, my relationships definitely strengthened and became more emotional.

Enough about me, though! I wanted to share my personal experience with journaling as a testament to the relevance and benefits of this ~quarantine sanity~ activity. Now it’s all about you guys doing what’s best for you, and while I suggest that everyone tries out journaling, you may not find that it’s right for you. However, by even figuring that out, you are learning more about yourself! For anyone, from experienced journalers to people who have never done it before, below are journaling tips that I am so excited to share!

● When you journal, don’t edit your thoughts/feelings/grammar/ANYTHING. Don’t censor yourself: just write.

● When you journal, don’t get hung up on having something important or interesting to write about. Write about where you are in your life in real-time, even if that’s in your bed watching Netflix and eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s – actually, especially if it’s that.

● If you don’t feel like writing, don’t! Instead, if you want to draw, doodle, or write lists instead, totally do that because that is still journaling and can help you alleviate your current negative emotions and thoughts.

● Write for yourself. Nobody else is listening or making judgments; journaling is FOR you, so enjoy it 🙂

“If you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair.”

Madeleine L’Engle

Your journal and journaling are authentic to yourself; the versatility is perfectly exemplified below through all of these different journals my friends and I use. None of ours are classified as right nor wrong, expert nor beginner. I, but instead, these journals represent each of our own ways of shaking off everything bothering us at the time in order to find who we are, who we were, and who we want to become.

Please feel free to reach out to me (via my Instagram) and/or GreenHawks Media with any suggestions, requests, questions, etc.. I cannot wait to keep sharing my love for intentional cooking/eating, in addition to tips & tricks for our mental health during the current insanity! 

All photos courtesy of Sammy Harris

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