Isolation Tool Kit: Journaling Everything

I’ve kept diaries on-and-off since I was in middle school. They’ve come in the form of handwritten notebooks, Xangas, LiveJournals, and, most recently, this very blog!

I stopped hand-writing my journals around high school, when I couldn’t find the time to sit down and write for pleasure anymore. As I got older, I became so wrapped up in school and work and personal commitments that I never seemed to have the time to sit down and write in a physical diary.

However, even in the first few weeks of self-isolation, I realized that I needed an analog hobby. I was spending the entire day either on my computer or my phone already, and my sleep schedule was getting overwhelmed at the amount of blue light I was getting every night! When I realized this, I bit the bullet and bought some new notebooks – if they’re cute, I’ll use them, right?

Daily/Gratitude Journal

Nothing salacious in these diary entries! Anymore!

At the beginning of quarantine, a coworker suggested that we all keep diaries as a way of preserving the current moment. After all, we were (and still are) living through a period that will undoubtedly be recorded in future history books. As a former diary-writer, this felt like my cue to pick up my old hobby back up again!

I haven’t always been consistent in my writing. I try to write at least one page every night, but I’ve forgotten full weeks, or I’ve written several pages in one day. I realized a long time ago that, if my diary has no audience, then who cares? Do whatever you want!

Most of my entries are boring records of what I did that day – how was work, what exercise did I do, where did I go, etc.

On days where literally nothing happened – which happens a lot in quarantine! – I pivot to gratitude. It feels like a cheesy, part-crunchy, part-tired girlboss habit to take up, but I’m happy to report that it works! As I mentioned earlier, I don’t hold myself to any specific metrics, and use “gratitude” and “what I’m thankful for today” as inspiration more than a strict guideline.

I also look for specific things in the past day or so that I am thankful for, as opposed to general things like “my health!” and “having a job!”. I like this method a lot because it forces me to look for little delights in my otherwise tedious and monotone day-to-day life. For example, “I’m thankful for the turkey that stopped traffic during my walk and allowed me to cross the street without getting hit by a car,” or “I’m thankful for all the stupid dialogue and dumb places that Toads are hiding in Paper Mario for making me laugh“, or “I’m thankful that Bryan and I got to watch The Kissing Booth 2 together so we could both be confused by all the inaccuracies and dumb storylines” (all true stories!).

I haven’t been keeping track of how many individual entries I’ve written, but I am halfway through my relatively thick, college-ruled notebook. I’m hoping that quarantine will be over by the time I finish the book, but at this rate…

Food Journal

Hit me up if you’ve got a good Dutch Baby recipe – I may or may not be obsessed

My relationship with food has been complicated.

For a few months in college, I used MyFitnessPal to log my food and track my calories and other macros. I used the app without any professional guidance from a nutritionist. Because of that, I became very stressed out, for no real reason, about the algorithm’s arbitrarily chosen goals. Because of this, I decided to stop tracking my food, and swore it off for the rest of my life.

However, in quarantine, food tracking has taken on an entirely different meaning. It started off as meal planning, but I was honestly never much of a meal planner, and became even less inclined to when most of my day was spent indoors, thinking about what I wanted to eat that day. Instead, as the days and weeks and months progressed, meal tracking became a roundabout way to track the passage of time.

I occasionally flip through past pages to both (1) remind myself of the delicious meals I’ve made in the past, (2) freak out at the amount of time that has passed since I had those delicious meals, (3) remember what was happening when I ate that meal. For example, I still think every once in a while about the delicious ratatouille pie I made while watching the Survivor finale – which was in May??? That feels like ages ago!

My nighttime wind-down routine now includes putting away my phone and picking up both my daily and food journal to take down that day’s memories. As I’ve mentioned before, routines have saved my sanity in quarantine, and over time, I’ve come to look forward to finishing up my entries so that I can jump into bed right after.

Mantra Journal

Though I’ve made my daily and food journals into fully-fledged habits, I did have a third journal that I used at the beginning of quarantine that has since fallen out of use: my mantra journal.

Another “Girlboss”-type habit that I wanted to give a try, this journal is filled with one-liners that I wrote over and over. These include phrases like “I am working toward becoming my best self,” written while overwhelmed with the desire to accomplish as much as possible in quarantine (like, I guess?), and “I am worth of love,” written from a particularly low mental point.

However, as I became more settled into quarantine, I simply found other ways to channel that energy. I incorporated those thoughts into my daily journal, or talked to Bryan, or meditated, or did any of the other hundreds of habits that I’ve picked up over the past 5 months.

It’s possible that my hands were just cramping from keeping three different journals at one time – who knows!

2 thoughts on “Isolation Tool Kit: Journaling Everything

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