Journalling Through a Time of Corona 2

Life has certainly changed over the last week: Many of us are getting used to the space of self-isolation as those looking after our health and welfare grapple with the pressures of frontline working. 

Wherever we are in this new territory, the advice of those ahead of us on the journey is to take things steady. If we are journalling through this unprecedented time, as I know many are, we can have high expectations of what we’re going to be able to do. But simply adjusting to the big changes in our daily lives takes time and energy. We may find some noble intentions hitting the ground quite quickly. So if you have not met your journalling ambitions this week, don’t worry. 

Write about the shortfall and what might have played a part in it. Be curious rather than critical. A journal is a place to name, but not to shame. Most of all, it needs to be sustainable. In journalling as in many other areas of life it’s best to keep it simple; keep it real; keep it up. 

With that in mind, I’d like to highlight a couple of journalling practices that are focussed and accessible. The first of these is drawn from the journalling work of  Kay Adams and Deborah Ross.

Mapping the Mind

Take a page in your journal, or a separate blank sheet that you can attach later. 

In the centre, write down My Brain, and from that central point, map out what your mind is focussing on at the moment – the things that occupy your attention (family, work, home, activities, achievements, concerns etc)

Represent these by drawing out from your Brain-centre, using lines and circles or other shapes of appropriate sizes. Write words in these to indicate what is taking up  headspace. 

Take time to tune in to your thoughts, using your intuition and creativity to chart their significance and how they relate to one another. Come back to the centre each time when you start a new thought. 

Afterwards, look over what you have created. What do you notice? Is there a dominant theme or aspect? Is there anything significant in what’s not there? What puzzles, interests or surprises you? Now you can see what your mind is up to, are there adjustments you want to make, new habits to train or actions to undertake? For example, I noticed how my thoughts naturally turn to what’s coming up rather than what I’m actually doing in the present. 

Take five minutes to write about your reflections and conclusions.

The world around us offers limited room for manoeuvre just now. This journalling technique may suggest options for a shift of approach from inside out that could make a positive difference.

This exercise could be repeated weekly as a check-in with yourself. Over time, note what changes, what stays the same, what gets stuck or what you manage to move on.  

Another thing to explore is the difference between a mind-map done early in the day and one produced late in the evening. 

Try this mind-map immediately after a period of reflection or meditation. What differences does that make? 

(Missing cat on my mind-map – now back!)

Writing the Heart of the Day

This suggestion addresses the feeling that we ought to record all the ups and downs of our day in detail in a journal. The mere prospect of that is exhausting, and we may well end up writing nothing at all.So don’t try to write about the whole day, just the heart of it.

Look back at what has been the day’s stand-out moment, incident or experience for you. What has stayed with you, whether planned activity or something spontaneous and completely unforeseen. It might be a conversation, a sight, an achievement or frustration. Whatever it is, a clue to its identity is likely to be that it links to an emotion – sadness, irritation, pleasure or maybe surprise. 

Write freely, re-evoking this moment as vividly as you can. What were you seeing, sensing, feeling? What actually happened? As you write, explore what it is that makes this moment significant for you. Is there something to celebrate and remember; is an assumption overturned or a challenge rising up? 

Doing this day by day will store a growing pile of significant moments. After a while, you may want to read back over a series of them, to see what patterns or characteristics you notice.   

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  • About Julia


    From writing stories for my younger brother, to penning poems for the School Magazine and filling a growing pile of personal journals, the written word has always been part of my life’s journey.

    I started out as an English Teacher and subsequently retrained as a Counsellor. I have counselled in a GP Surgery and worked with various Employee Assistance Schemes and Charitable Trusts alongside seeing private clients.

    Although I have done some freelance journalism and written four non-fiction books, creative writing has become my main focus in recent years.

    My poems have appeared online on sites including Amaryllis, Silver Birch Press, Clear Poetry, Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis, Riggwelter and Ink,Sweat and Tears. I have been published in Curlew and Bucks Mill Magazine, and anthologised in Our Hearts Still Sing. My first poetry collection, Chester City Walls, came out in 2015.

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