In this frightening time of COVID-19, I encourage people practicing quarantine to begin journaling as a new hobby. Before going into self-quarantine, I envisioned a scenario I did not wish to come true – me, sitting at home all day scrolling through Instagram or TikTok, slowly becoming completely dependent on my phone instead of social interactions or my own thoughts. I took actions, which I felt necessary, to prevent this and develop tendencies that would help me beyond quarantine or online school. First, I realized I needed a routine similar to my routine in school, one with ample time for exercise, education, and relaxation. Second, I wanted to use this time to shift some of my habits and increase my self-awareness to help me in the future. Third, I understood the value of accomplishment and success during a period of boredom. For that reason, I picked up activities that I had previously pushed off with the classic “I have no time for this” excuse and began to journal. Although my intention was to accomplish these goals and stay mentally stable in quarantine, I experienced and learned more from having a journal. In fact, I would recommend journaling to anyone in quarantine who is either bored or looking to benefit and learn from this time.

Like I’ve said, a journal helps one’s productivity and fulfillment of goals. Oftentimes, I’ve noticed, those two things are related. Before quarantine, I associated productivity with school because I measured my productivity by the quality and quantity of work I completed. But during quarantine, I realize productivity should not be materialistic or forced. Simply writing, and crossing off when completed, “take the dog out for a walk” makes the action more mentally rewarding and productive. In addition, productivity makes you less bored because your mind is engaged and active. However, that is definitely not to say that all days in quarantine are, or should be, productive. I have learned to not scold or beat myself up about a day when I relaxed and watched movies with my family. Setting daily and overarching goals that are realistic, purposeful, and fun further feelings of productivity. Purposefully supporting your overarching goal (in my case: to learn about myself and develop helpful habits through quarantine) with daily goals, helps make it doable. Feeling your days are productive and purposeful helps your mental energy and increases your self-care.

To ensure I exercise adequate self-care, I like to use my journal as a creative outlet and space to process my inner thoughts. Although I am not the most creative of people, I like this time in quarantine to try new things and to broaden my skillset; this is why I thought it would be a good idea to not only write creatively but draw creatively as well, something I had not done for myself in at least five years. Not only is sketching or drawing fun, but it also relaxes you and reminds you of the beauty this world has to offer, however cheesy that may sound. Obviously, using artistic skills is another way to lessen boredom. 

Finally, I put my creativity and natural reflectiveness into words when I write about my reaction to the news, my thoughts about anything and everything, or my experience in quarantine, etc. I believe journaling helps you manage during these quite unprecedented times – by reflecting, responding, and documenting. Although I would suggest using your journal for yourself, historians and others appreciate a personal depiction of this time – like a journal! In fact, the New York Historical Society invites young writers or diary-keepers to submit their journal into the museum’s collection. Although coronavirus eliminates many opportunities, if you look for them, this complicated time does increase opportunities as well.

There is no limit to what to write about during quarantine. You can journal about your interpretation or answer to philosophical questions, your gratitude for things in your life, or your raw account of quarantine. Expressing yourself through writing helps your mental stability and understanding of your placement in the world around you. Whether you have five or thirty minutes, journaling helps you digest how chaotic – but still – life is in quarantine.

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