The first lockdown was really hard on us all. One of the key things that helped get me through it was journaling. It can sound a little “teenager” and many people don’t know where to start with it, so I thought I’d share how I was doing it in lockdown. Writing at a regular time of day, like first thing in the morning or last thing at night, can help to make it a habit that you keep up.

  • Section One: how I’d got on with the goals I’d set myself the previous day or that morning
  • Section Two: a summary of the day, what was good or bad, what I was stressed about or looking forward to
  • Section Three: 3 things I was grateful for
  • Section Four: 3 goals for the day

I tried to set myself one goal for myself like exercising or relaxing or catching up with a friend; one for work like attending a meeting or catching up on emails; and one for the family – usually to do with housework or home schooling. Then if I found myself getting stressed about something, if it wasn’t one of my goals for the day, I found it easier to let it go and come back to it another time.

Another journaling technique I have found really useful when I am feeling overwhelmed is to simply list all the things I am stressed about. Just writing them down eases a little of the stress and gives me a bit more headspace. I then go back through the list with a different coloured pen and make a note next to each item, such as “I can’t change this, I just need to accept it” or “I can’t do anything about this right now” or “I need to do X to resolve this”.

Then I take out all the “I need to do” items and I’ve got a much smaller to do list than I started with. Next, I go through the list and put the date I plan to do that thing next to each item, and then put the items into my diary on those days. Suddenly life seems a whole lot more manageable!

This technique has also been really useful with my son who was struggling with the transition to High School, but we did it in a more visual mind map format.

I go through phases of journaling a lot or not at all, and it is now one of my favourite ways to find my “flow.” I know that, in lockdown, the days when I was feeling most stressed and overwhelmed were the days when I hadn’t done it. Now, I make an effort to write about the good days and experiences I have as well as the difficult, so that if I want to, I can look back over my journals in years to come and remember the good times – I’m not sure I’d want to read them if they were all doom and gloom!