Coping COVID-19

Coping with COVID-19 – Tools from our Journals

In the past four weeks I’ve worked with over 45 students in online journaling workshops as each looked for ways to process the impact of the COVID-19 crisis individually and as a learning community. Nearly 75% of the way complete, it’s fascinating what we’ve shared together. And the lessons I’ve learned. My big takeaway comes down to four coping categories, and eight simple journal techniques.

As groups, we’re using journaling as a means to cope with this crisis. But the categories apply no matter how you approach self-care. The important thing is to do what feels right for you — and do something every day, just don’t overdo it.

Key Lessons from our Journals

From rocket scientists to sleep experts I’ve been chronicling the benefits to journaling, especially right now, here on my blog. I’ve also been keeping tabs on the leading thinking coming out of places like the Mayo Clinic and the Center for Disease Control. But it’s my students who had the wisest, most simple wisdom to share from their examples:

Be Present. Present to Emotions, Uncertainty, Gratitude.

Routine. Do something basic every day to Boost Immunity, Sleep Consistently, Journal.

Release. It’s hard enough to take in so much change and so much bad news at once. Let alone to process it. Release in the way that feels right to you through things like Hobbies, Books/Music, Moments of joy.

Connect. At this time of separation we need as many ways to connect as still possible. Focus on Loved Ones, Helping Others, Nature, Faith.

And through their own courage to learn new ways to connect with their journals right now, these students have reminded me of the most simple and effective tools for this moment.

Journal Tools in the Time of COVID-19

Based what I’ve observed with my students these past few weeks, the best approach is to try something simple, with the intent of addressing at least one of the four categories every day. (Colored fonts below indicate a link to additional resources on most techniques.)

Be Present:

  • 5 Minute Sprints – Set a timer for 5, add “What’s going on?…” as your prompt. Write.
  • Reflection Writing – Whatever you end up writing, reread it (aloud if you want to), take a breath, write for one more minute about whatever comes to you. You are your own best coach and advocate.
  • Stream of Consciousness – Take a long walk, focus on your breathing for 3 minutes or daydream for 5. Then open your journal. Write.

Routine:

  • Topics du Jour – Find seven topics that mean the most to you right now. Select one topic per day of the week and assign each to its own page in your journal. Do one quick write on each day’s topic. Repeat each week. For example: Mondays – ‘Managing Stress’, Tuesdays – ‘Healthy Habits’, Wednesday – ‘My Kiddos’, etc.

Release:

  • Clustering – Write a focus word in the center of a journal page and circle it. It could be an emotion you wish to process, a word that represents something that brings you joy, or inspires you. Take a few deep breaths as you consider your word. Then doodle and sketch with branches with whatever comes to mind. When you finish, describe your doodle in words.
  • Dreams – Many of us have been dreaming more often, and we’re remembering more of our dreams, and they are more vivid right now. Dreams are the subconscious mind’s way to process what happens during our day. A journal is a beneficial way to complete that processing.

Connect:

  • Character Sketch – Think of one special person in your life and observe fully in your mind what they mean to you emotionally, as a physical presence, the lessons they have for you, any inspiration or memories. Sit and be present with them for a few moments. Then use your journal to record a vivid description. When you are done, pick up the phone, send a card, or hop on a Zoom call. Share the highlights of your write, or just enjoy the interaction. If this loved one is no longer with us or inaccessible right now, find a ritual to share the highlights — perhaps whisper them to the first star you see in the evening sky.
  • Captured Moment – Let a joyful moment come to mind and then experience it again in your mind using all five senses. Linger for a moment. Then record it in your journal.

Remember the Overall Wisdom

I hope this framework for thinking about coping and self-care is helpful in this moment. Remember to keep it simple, but do something to support yourself each day. Being present, finding routine, releasing and connecting are powerful tools whether your work on them through your journal or in other ways.

 

All of these techniques are presented in the Journal to the Self workshops I teach. Given the current situation, I’m running only online classes right now and finalizing a schedule. Please contact me as I may be able to open a class for you!

 

Photo by Lisa Fotios, Pexels. 

Pi Day

‘Pi’ Chart Wisdom in Your Journal!

My in-laws are a family of math people, and bakers. So we never miss out on celebrating Pi Day. (Our favorite is a cookie-cake with the Pi symbol on the middle — a circle, of course. We waited so that we ate it at exactly 3.14 1:59!)

A great Pi-related journal prompt is the List of 100. This is great if you want to generate big ideas, and tap your intuition in the process. Start with a prompt, such as:

100 things I am grateful for…

100 things I’m feeling stressed about…

100 marketing ideas…

100 ways I can help others…

100 lessons I have learned…

100 things to delegate…

You get the idea! Pick a topic and get ready to write.

Here are a few pointers: Write very quickly. Number as you go. Repeat, repeat, repeat is ok! If you get stuck, just write ‘stuck’ until the next thing comes.

Now comes the Pi/Pie Chart part — reread your list. Look for patterns, themes and insights. Assign items to categories, count and make a pie chart with the results.

Don’t forget to write a reflection of the overall process or outcomes to wrap it up (link is to an audio file, you might have to download the free app first). Every List of 100 is different. Sometimes you get big insights while writing the list (especially somewhere between items 66-100 on the list), sometimes while sorting or doing a pie chart, and sometimes while reflecting on the overall activity.

Join me for Journal to the Self

List of 100 is just one of 18 amazing techniques I teach during Journal to the Self workshops. Learn more on the Workshops page (online and in-person session). Or, if you prefer to sample first, try a free technique, or let’s schedule a no obligation phone call to chat about how I can support your own change journey.

Topics du Jour – Connecting Your Priorities

Topics du Jour is one of my favorite journal techniques because it’s so clever, simple and effective. The idea is easy – brainstorm the top 30 words that mean the most to you. Represent your own priories with names of people in your life, values or skills, your favorite activities or hobbies, etc! Then assign each to a number.

Now you are ready for Topics du Jour in your journal. Write about each topic on that date of the month. Let’s say your daugther was born on the 7th. So you assign her name to #7 and write about her on 7th of each month. Want to do a monthly check in about your finances? Maybe assign it to #15 since Tax Day falls on the 15th of April.

Check out this short webinar to learn more and set up your own Topics du Jour practice. And, learn why I write about ‘synchronicity’ on the 13th of each month!

 

 

 

Topics du Jour is just one of 18 techniques I teach during my Journal to the Self workshops. Learn more on the Workshops page, download a free sample first, or schedule a no obligation phone call to chat about how I can support your own change journey.

Prompting Yourself to ‘Spring Forward’

We’ve gained an hour of sunlight (but I do miss that hour of sleep!). The earth still appears to be sleeping, but change is afoot.

In your journal this is great inspiration. Try a Springboard or a Clustering write.

Spring forward…

As a Springboard write, use the words as your prompt and follow your writing.

As a Clustering write, place the words in the center of a page and circle them. Then branch and sketch as it suits you.

Write for five minutes. When you are done, reread your writing and jot down a few follow notes based on what you notice, observe in your body or any to do’s that may be popping out to you.

Use Your Journal to Spring Forward, Farther!

Springboard and Clustering are just two of 18 amazing techniques I teach during Journal to the Self workshops. Learn more on the Workshops page (online and in-person session). Or, if you prefer to sample first, try a free technique, or let’s schedule a no obligation phone call to chat about how I can support your own change journey.

The Season to Dream!

Pisces Season is upon us. A call to listen to our inner wisdom, intuition — and dreams!

Ever wake up with a dream and wonder what it means? Writing about it in your journal can help you sort out these messages and insights from your subconscious. See previous blog posts on Character Sketch, Unsent Letters, Artmaking, Springboards and other techniques you can use to explore the meanings of your dreams.

Want to inspire more dreaming and dream recall? Some tips: keep a notepad by your bed, remind yourself before you fall asleep that you’d like to remember your dreams when you wake up, jot just a few notes and/or a title in the middle of the night then fill in whatever else you remember in the morning. Last tip – the more you try to recall dreams, the more you will recall! Try it out for yourself.

Working with dreams in your journal is just one of 18 amazing techniques I teach during Journal to the Self Workshops (online and in-person session). Plus, all my students receive a cool pen with a mini flashlight to capture dream notes without disturbing your sleep. Join me and learn the insights your dreams hold for you.

Love for Yourself in Your Journal

Valentine’s Day is an important day to make time for loving yourself too! All journal writing is a form of self-care, but one method especially stands out. It also draws out your own inner wisdom in a delightfully surprising way: the AlphaPoem.

The technique is simple, just write an inspirational word or phrase down the side of your journal. Try a word or phrase of about 10-15 letters for the best results. Reflect on the word for a few moments, then write quickly. Just follow your pen, as a rhythmic paragraph unfolds. Perhaps each line starts a new phrase or sentence, maybe not.

You can close your eyes to see what stands out, or try a current theme like:

L

O

V

I

N

G

 

M

Y

S

E

L

F

AlphaPoem can be especially insightful if you use it to wrap up a series of journal writes on a related topic. Use the word or phrase that captures the theme of what you are exploring or where you are moving.

The practice is a bit trickier. A few tips – be sure to write VERY fast and be VERY imperfect. Set a timer for 5 minutes, take a few deep breaths and then just follow the pen.

AlphaPoem is my favorite way to close my Journal to the Self workshops. My next online class starts March 4th. Join me! Learn more on the Workshops page, download a free sample first, or schedule a no obligation phone call to chat about how I can support your own change journey.

Photo credit to photographer. 

Lincoln Inspiration

Since I studied the Ira Progoff journal method in my twenties, Abraham Lincoln has been my most consistent source of journal inspiration. From his quotes as a Springboard, to his wisdom in Dialogues, and his leadership through Character Sketches I continue to be influenced by his amazing poise, grace and insights.

Here’s a favorite Lincoln quote as a Springboard for your journal, in honor of his birthday today:

Character is like a tree; reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.

Or try:

What is the real thing? …

Springboards, Dialogue and Character Sketches are just a few of the 18 amazing techniques I teach during Journal to the Self workshops. My next online course begins on March 4th. Join me! Learn more on the Workshops page (online and in-person session). If you’d like, download the free sample there first, or let’s schedule a no obligation phone call to chat about how I can support your own change journey.

 

Photo by Caleb Fisher on Unsplash.

The most personal is the most creative …

Parasite was the big delightful surprise out of the Oscars last night — the first time a foreign language film has taken home the top prize. This was one of many awards the film took home, including Best Director for Bong Joon-Ho.

In his acceptance speech, Joon-Ho shared a quote that he explained in English was “carved deep into my heart” and he acknowledged Martin Scorsese in the audience as the source.

From Joon-Ho via Scorses, it makes for a brilliant Springboard for your journal:

The most personal is the most creative.

Or try:

Carved deep into my heart…

Springboard is just one of 18 amazing techniques I teach during Journal to the Self workshops. Learn more on the Workshops page (online and in-person session). Or, if you prefer to sample first, try a free technique, or let’s schedule a no obligation phone call to chat about how I can support your own change journey.

 

New York Times photo.

Repeating: Deeper Insights from Your Journal

Wintertime really calls me to slooow down. I’d hibernate if I could! So I always feel for the poor celebrity groundhogs who get dragged out of their cozy dens early each February 2nd to help us ‘forecast’ when spring will arrive. But the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ is one of my favorites. The message of embracing the ability to repeat, tweak, repeat, tweak again, and grow stays with me. 

So here’s some inspiration for your journal, using the power of repetition to tap insights. 

Just pick a prompt that stands out to you — a word, a question, the lyrics from a song. Set your timer for five minutes and write. Then repeat so you write five times with the same prompt. Be sure to do a reflection after each one, and then a sixth reflection after your read all five at once. 

You may choose to write for five days, spread it over a week, or do all the writes in one day. Whatever works for you! 

Visit the Workshops page to learn about more ways to tap insights with your journal, or test it out with a free sample!

 

Image by Dana_David from Pixabay.

Stream of Consciousness Writing

Oh how fun just to follow the pen! Lots of flowy, streaming inspiration for your journal this week. Go-with-the-flow Aquarius Season kicked off on Sunday. And yesterday, we celebrated John Hancock’s birthday and his famous signature with National Handwriting Day.

Here’s how you can inspire some Stream of Consciousness or flow writing in your own journal:

  • Set the mood. If you want to open up your head and let your pen take the lead, try a few moments to settle yourself. So many options to try — do some relaxation breathing, take a walk, listen to music, take a long shower, meditate.
  • For any settling, I’d recommend about five minutes of whatever quieting activity you choose.
  • When you are ready, just start writing. Set a timer for 5-8 minutes and just follow wherever the writing goes. No worries if you jump around on ideas, restart, change the orientation of the page. The spontaneity/unpredictability is one of the reasons this type of writing can be so engaging and insightful!
  • As soon as the timer ends, reread what you have written and create a final reflection of the overall process and any insights or observations you now have.

Want to try my favorite entrance technique? Set a timer for 5 minutes and just sit. Let your mind go as many places as it wants. Really. Don’t worry about clearing your mind … just follow it! Then write. My busy brain is so busy all the time, I find a sense of calm in the chaos of allowing myself just to think.

Stream of Consciousness is just one of 18 amazing techniques I teach during Journal to the Self workshops. Learn more on the Workshops page (online and in-person session). Or, same page has info if you prefer to sample first, try a free technique; or let’s schedule a no obligation phone call to chat about how I can support your own change journey.