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By Sally Currie
Posted: 07/26/2020

We are currently facing a world pandemic of epic proportions.  Our lives have been upended into a new normal with kids staying at home and parents having lost their jobs or trying to work from home.  Many are grieving for lost family members and friends.  And, sadly, it is becoming obvious that our old ways are pretty much gone for good. 

            During these stressful times of adjustment to a future for which none of us was prepared, a personal journal can be of great help.  I began keeping a daily log when I first started staying in and have found it enormously helpful in getting perspective and maintaining my sense of self.

            It is not necessary to be grammatical or to write every day.  What is important is to get your feelings down on paper while they are still strong and, if they are negative, before they have been thoughtlessly or hurtfully expressed.

            Clarification results when you see your thoughts on paper.  Feelings released into a diary can free energy into creative avenues of communication and ways of solving problems.  If you are living with your family, a journal can be used to record your expectations of family members in the “new normal.”  With increased perspective, you can separate what is from what you would like it to be. And to identify the few factors that, perhaps, cannot be changed.

            Your journal can help you to set goals and establish priorities.  It can identify “trigger” situations where a particular word or event sets off a predictable explosion so these situations can be avoided to encourage honest communication that can create a trusting bond between family members. If you sense that a family member is overly sensitive or stressed at a particular time, store your feelings on paper until a more appropriate time for expression.  The process will give you a more objective view, a better perspective on how to express yourself effectively when the appropriate time comes.  You may even decide that the issue really wasn’t important enough to warrant a confrontation.

            An honest journal can lead to accepting responsibility for your feelings and saying, “I feel…” rather than “You make me feel…” The increased ability to express feelings accurately without blaming will lead to more open and assertive expression in the interplay of daily living within your family and beyond.  Children can benefit from journaling as well.

            The concentration required to express feelings on paper causes you to focus on a person or situation in a more complete way than is possible in the context of a busy household.  An entry may begin with a description of the shortcomings of a friend or family member and, once the anger is spent, turn to expressions of appreciation for what they bring to your life. 

            So far, I have been focusing on family adjustment to our unprecedented situation, but for the multitude of people of all ages who live alone as I do, journaling can be a lifesaver.  It is “someone to talk to” in our isolation.  I like to express my feelings about what I hear in the news, what I am reading, phone conversations and emails.  I even write about creative foods I have prepared.  And then there are the wonderful memories of a long lifetime.  I enjoy writing “memorable minis,” little stories from my life that my heirs may treasure later on.  I also like to include dreams because, over time, patterns tend to emerge which help to show me what course I should follow.  I also tap into the appreciation of myself that kept me going as little girl who had no playmates and realized that being alone was mostly okay.

            If I have trouble sleeping, I get up and start writing.  As I write, I feel as if I have “uncorked” my brain.  The whirling thoughts flow onto the page through my pen and I keep writing until I feel emptied out.  My muscles relax and I fall into peaceful, restorative sleep. 

            The entries are there, if I wish to refer to them, but I find that the very act of writing them down often brings resolution, a sense of perspective and a bolstered ability to deal with the uncertainty which is now part of our daily lives.

            In kindness to yourself, write a diary!




Sally Currie, MS is a retired counselor, group leader and administrator.  She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and did her graduate work at the University of Bridgeport and the Raxlin Institute for Family Studies.  She is also a published poet and originated and hosted a TV talk show for seniors in Durango, CO.  She has lived in eight states, moved 42 times and calls Pasadena her forever home. Her mother survived the flu in 1918 and died in her 101st year.


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