Journal YOUR story of life during the pandemic

Writing your ‘covid’ story can be great for your mental health, and comes with the added advantage of offering your descendents an incredible insight into how life was truly like during covid times.

Right now, we are living through one of the most significant events probably in our history. Have you ever heard the word ‘unprecedented’ so much?!! These unprecedented times are our ‘world war’. It is the story our future generations will look back on with disbelief. (Whenever I stop and think about what we’re living, and how the last 18 months have transpired, I’m still in disbelief). The story of the Covid pandemic will be written in history books, but what won’t be written, is YOUR experience of living through it. Maybe it’s time to journal your story of life during the pandemic?

Writing your feelings down can be calming

But the other reason why I’d recommend documenting this experence in some way or other, is because I’m also a firm believer that writing things down can be very cathartic. Writing can help you process what’s happening, and perhaps give a more realistic view of life and how things are changing. We can tend to build things up in our minds, make them worse than they are, stress over little things etc. Writing it down can help bring reality back into it.

Having these things written down, can also help you plot progress. It can be hard to see small progress, that perhaps happens daily or weekly. But if you have a record that you can go back and look at in six months time, you’re able to see where you’ve come from, and what you have achieved during these difficult times.

Every county’s experience of Covid has been different, and every person in each country is also experiencing the affects of living through this uniquely.

There’s a saying that I’ve heard that I think captures this better than anything.

We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat.

As a scrapbooker, I’d love to see everyone documenting in some way or other, their life during the pandemic. What they love about it, what they hate about it. How it’s changed daily life. What new routines look like. Whether or not they’ve had to live through a lockdown, and what those lockdown restrictions were. I am sure this will be fascinating reading for our future generations.

The four B’s of the pandemic

Gillian Tett wrote in an article in the Financial Times about people experiencing the four ‘B’s during the pandemic, and lockdowns. Boredom, burnout, breakdown and blessings. These are quite varied responses to our lives, and that’s not to say that we’re not limited to just one of these. It’s possible we can run the gamut of these throughout this experience.

But if we are able to focus more on the blessings we have, it’s going to smooth out the experience a little for us.

We can do this as part of our story. To help focus on the blessings, we can start by writing down what we’re grateful for in each day, or week.

Practise gratitude

There’s a huge science that tells us that practising gratitude can be good for us in so many ways. In an article by Derrick Carpenter written on the Science Behind Gratitude he writes  “People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. And gratitude doesn’t need to be reserved only for momentous occasions: Sure, you might express gratitude after receiving a promotion at work, but you can also be thankful for something as simple as a delicious piece of pie.”

If we put this in the context of living say in lockdown, I can easily rattle off so many things to be thankful for. To being safe in my bubble, to have a job to focus on, to have internet that works, family to check up on, food in the fridge, a book I can escape into, a sunny day, a great neighbourhood to talk a walk in. Just like in the storm, what we all have to be thankful for will be different, but there will be something. And if we can focus on that something, it’ll make the other stuff a little more bearable.

Choosing to focus more on the good parts of our lives today, can enhance the blessings that are around us.

And writing down those blessings, can mean something really tangible to read on the harder days.

HOW you can document your story

How you choose to document your story, is completely up to you. You may want to just start by practising gratitude. Do you have a notebook you could write this in? Don’t put pressure on yourself to do it everyday, but try and think about it writing in it before you head to bed each night. It’s nice to go to sleep with a positive thought in your head.

You could also decide to do more. You could extend your notebook into a diary/journal – writing down more of how your day looked. What you did, what was in the news, how things are changing. On lifehack.org, Hannah Braime wrote an article on How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life. As part of she says “Keeping a journal can also enhance your levels of self-trust. When you can look back and see how successfully you’ve traversed and dealt with important decisions and tricky situations in the past, you’ll feel more confident in your ability to do so in the future.” Now that’s a powerful reason for writing it down.

If you want to be a little more creative, you could start a scrapbook. For me, this is really a journal with photos. Although not at all arty, I’ve learned that you don’t need to be to enjoy creative pursuits. And scrapbooking has provided a vehicle for me where I can combine my journal, the photos, and a little crafty endeavours. A lot of people find great peace working with their hands, so this may be a total win win option for many. And the photos give a great visual to the story.

When NZ went into our first hard lockdown in March 2021, I of course had no comprehension of how long covid would last. But I could comprehend how important this was in our history, and created a small album to document the ’30 days’ (that grew into 6 weeks). I also created a ‘30 day isolation challenge‘ to help me and others focus on what I thought could be important things to document, and ways to keep occupied, or inspired. Here are a couple of photos from it.

Even now, 18 months on, it’s fascinating reading, and looking back on how it all began.

Now here in Auckland, we’re in Lockdown 3.0. This one will be for at least a month, with potential for that to extend. I’ve created a couple of pages in our family scrapbook, to highlight what’s happening this time. How our understanding of the virus has changed, and how that’s changed how our lockdown looks.

If you decide that writing something down could be something you can do, start with whatever feels right. There is no right or wrong way of doing it. This is for you, and as such, if it makes you feel better (or good), then do that. Ultimately, telling our story, is another way we can help our own mental health as we navigate this new reality.

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