One of the best self-awareness and self-management tools we encourage our coaching clients to use is journaling. Journaling provides the ability to sit down and write what you’re thinking and feeling with no judgement; the impact is clarifying, enlightening and freeing. Sometimes, the ability to tune out the rest of the world and just be honest with yourself can open your eyes to greater awareness, information and realizations you may have missed or ignored. It can help you get clear to be able to make wise decisions, small or large. It can help you transition through challenging times. It can take a weight off your shoulders.
As the impact of COVID-19 continues to evolve, changing the way we see and live our lives, I’ve noticed many parents are encouraging their kids to keep a journal. And this isn’t an age specific activity, either. I’ve seen parents sharing this idea with their teens right down to their toddlers. In fact, I recently saw a post from a parent who shared that her young daughter had trouble explaining the big emotions she was feeling. After she encouraged her to write things down, both of them had an easier time communicating with each other.
I’ve also heard of parents who are encouraging their toddlers – the kids who can’t write for themselves – to tell them what they’re thinking and feeling, and parents are writing it down for them.
And I’ve heard of parents who are encouraging their older children – especially those in college who were sent home to finish their year through online courses from the comfort of their childhood bedrooms – to journal to help them understand and channel their big emotions in a productive way.
We’re loving this use of journaling. There’s a power in writing things down, to create a visual representation of what you’re thinking and feeling. It makes it real. It also clears it out of your mind so it stops the continual pinging and distracting thoughts. Left unattended, our thoughts will run around our head, disrupting our concentration, affecting our mood and influencing our behaviors (sometimes not in the most productive ways). Addressing them by giving yourself time and space to release them and see them creates the ability to be a wiser, calmer person.
So if you’re struggling to find the right words to discuss this big event with your kids, considering journaling for yourself. To start, get in a quiet place. Take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself a question like, “What I am feeling right now?” or “What is the thing that seems to be getting my attention?” Write what comes to mind. Don’t judge it. Just write. When you feel you are done (you will know), review what you wrote and reflect on it. Allow yourself to experience whatever is going on with you. Journaling gives it words. With these, you can then better use the information to quiet your mind and make more intentional decisions.
This is a big, scary event for everyone. The best way to prevent panic is to ensure you take time to get centered and present. Your family needs you to be informed, calm and responsive, not anxious and reactive. Journaling can help you find your moment of Zen in a noisy and changing world.
Take 5 minutes today to write down how you’re feeling in whatever format works best for you, whether it’s a list of words, a formal journal entry or even a drawing. Write down the emotions you’re feeling right now. How does this help you see things more clearly? How can you use journaling to help you step outside the internal spiral you might be feeling or experiencing so you are able to relax, keep perspective and continue to make wise decisions?
If journaling can help you, consider how it can help your kids who are still learning – and possibly just starting to see – how this pandemic will change their world.
Consider reading How Do You Talk to Your Kids About Current Events?