I couldn’t have known it in January, but my 2020 New Year’s resolution was one of the most serendipitous decisions I have ever made. At the end of 2019, our lovely Sports Editor Susanna Granieri gifted me a journal as a secret Santa present. Since I always start journals and never finish them, I decided that for 2020, I was actually — for once — going to commit myself to keeping a solid, consistently updated chronicle of my life.
Looking back at my entries from January when my biggest concern was wanting to go to the gym more, to my present day, astronomically different entries since COVID-19 has turned daily life completely on its head, it’s an understatement to say that this is one year I’ll be glad to have on record.
And of course, everyone on the planet could say that what they thought their life would look like in January is not what it looks like now, and who knows what it’ll look like in the upcoming months? Writing it all down is a great way to keep track of and make sense of it all.
So for that reason and the next few I’ll outline in this article, here’s exactly why it could be super beneficial to start a journal right now.
1. Record Your Thoughts In Real-Time.
This may seem obvious, but one of the great benefits of keeping a journal during any time in your life is that instead of trying to merely remember how you felt about certain situations, you can look back and see your thoughts about them first-hand. A great way to do this is by setting out three to five minutes each morning, evening or whenever to just write without pausing or thinking. Give your journal some life updates about what happened today, big or small. Write about what you are planning on doing later, what you are worried about, what your goals are for while you’re in quarantine, what your aspirations are for when it’s over, and so on. Who knows, Future You might be surprised or inspired by what Past You had to say.
2. Journaling Can Help Ease Stress and Anxiety
This is a time of high stress, anxiety and uncertainty. Sometimes when we have a lot we’re thinking or worrying about, writing down our thoughts can help us sort it all out so whatever’s overwhelming us can seem less scary. It can even help us work out solutions for problems that seem way too big or intricate in our heads. Don’t be afraid to vent in your journal — chances are no one else will read it, and just letting it all out can be extremely cathartic.
3. Become an Actual Primary Source
Journals, letters and diaries have always been an incredibly useful tool for historians to learn about the past. We are living through a historic time, and though similar pandemics and crises may occur in the future, no other time is going to look exactly like this one. By journaling, you can preserve a first-hand account of it. Another way to do this is by taking pictures of how this pandemic has changed your own environment. The empty streets, closed businesses, stores with signs spread six feet apart to encourage customers to keep their distance, etc. Though you may not want to actually share your journal, similar to reason number one, this could be a way of creating a primary account of this year for yourself. But who knows, maybe what you write tomorrow will become a Document Based Question on the 2120 US AP History exam that causes some kid to fail.
4. Help Inspire Creative Ideas
Poets, novelists, playwrights, musicians, artists — just about anyone who creates any sort of art pulls inspiration from their own life and the world around them. By journaling, you are creating a storage unit of personalized, unique ideas to pull inspiration from. Though the idea that this is the time for artists to flourish is tired and can cause a lot of unnecessary pressure, if you ever feel inclined to create something based on this period of time, your journal entries are waiting for you. Not only that, but journaling helps improve your writing skills in general, so when you’re ready to write a memoir, essay, short story or whatever, the process of doing so may feel less daunting.