There is a lot of research that supports how good journaling and writing can be for one’s mental health.
I also find it an amazing way to express and get connected to one’s creativity and imagination. You can write about daily occurrences or completely fictional fantasies and as the author you can take as many liberties as you want when you write. The page is yours and you are in control. I also find writing to be therapeutic and has the ability to heal pain within all of us if we are willing to go there. Sit with just you and the paper or you and the keyboard and just go there. During Covid-19 there has also been much talk of what kinds of mental health impacts are being felt during isolation as humans are having less connection with other humans and if they are having contact – there may be an underlying level of anxiety due to the virus that muddles that connection.
Personally, I have always loved the written word and felt more comfortable expressing myself in email or IM than in person. When I chose to start teaching yoga – it was not only because it touched my life deeply during my cancer crisis, but also because with teaching came an opportunity to work on the spoken language, my communication, and face one of my biggest fears. But I still LOVE TO WRITE. I also love to try new things during this quarantine, ones that maybe I wouldn’t have tried so when I saw an Instagram post on a FREE Friday Night Writes Writing Workshop – I got all excited and signed up. Now there were a couple thoughts come that Friday after I had just finished teaching a private client and Kira and I had had some difficult challenges about listening – was I going to be able to find that clear vessel from which the words flow? And then I go back to reminding myself maybe, maybe not but let’s try.
As I joined the ZOOM call, I was greeted by new people that liked to write and I found it easy to talk to them and connect right off the bat. I still had some fear of how does this work? do we share? what if mine sucks? And then sometimes there is the reminder that well, it’s a zoom call you can end it at anytime, blame technical difficulty, and never join again. Problem solved. But instead, the opposite happened. I loved it and can’t wait for next week! After the initial chit chat and introductions, the leader read a prompt about a dark smoky dance hall with a lot of people and a singer who came on stage and as she started to sing, people stopped dancing in their tracts as if they had chains on their feet. We were given the instruction that we could go in any direction we wanted with that for the next 15 minutes. As I stared at my paper at first I was nervous because nothing came to mind or I couldn’t remember all the details of what she wrote to let it continue flawlessly. BUT the second I let go of my expectations of it being the perfect continuation of that prompt and let my imagination run wild – this is what came out.
“As the words flowed out of her at times trembling and at times strong lips, there was no longer any physical motion on the dance floor. There was something greater. A lightness in the dark, smoky hall. A movement in their hearts and a connectedness on what it feels like to truly let someone else in and to truly be alive in the moment. In some cases, this was a stranger yet her voice and her sound were familiar. After some stillness, one by one people found their way back to movement having been touched by this precious moment that they hadn’t expected but shared together. They danced and danced until the music in her soul called it a night and as they walked out of the hall into the crisp, fresh air they carried that unspoken connection with them for a bit. Her sound, her voice had touched many of them to their core, had awoke parts of them that had died, and set parts of them on fire again. There was both beauty and pain in her voice, beauty and pain that was meant to be shared. And there was beauty in the chains that had become unbroken as they danced that night.”
I got chills sharing and hearing what the other people in the group wrote. There was such personalization, uniqueness, and emotion attached to the writings.
So on your path to staying well during this transitional time – maybe try writing yourself well on the days you can’t seem to grasp what is going on or what the future holds or maybe something from the past that haunts you when you slow down. Physical exercise is also amazing for getting things moving but sometimes creating movement through expressions like cooking, planting, writing, etc are also amazing and the more tools in the toolkit – the better prepared we are for building our sustainable foundations.