Quarantine introduced a new way of life that none of us had imagined. All of us finally had time to sit down. The world had paused and for the first time in a long time we had nowhere to be. Promptly everyone picked up hobbies. All of us had a lot of time in our hands and it forced us to take a step back and reflect. Having time and being alone was so overwhelming that most of us decided to bake bread instead.
So, I did – I learned to bake bread, cakes and pies. I also binged on Netflix for hours if not days. It didn’t even matter what I watched as long as something was going on. After a point, I was looking forward to doing anything that got me out of bed in the morning and a sense of purpose to the day. I wasn’t doing anything mindfully but I did things only because they served as distractions. In my everyday life I had learned to thrive on distractions. So, any activity I dabbled in was good enough to keep me occupied.
I even started journaling again. After a two year break, it took some time getting used to but it allowed me to vent out my emotions and organize my thoughts. I could confront my feelings and overall state of mind instead of running away. I started with a bullet journal and began to keep a track of days, tasks, progress etc.
At a time where the clock served no purpose and days fused together, keeping a track of each day helped a lot.
I tracked day to day tasks and reflected upon them. On the days I didn’t have work I still wrote a to-do list, even if it was only a reminder to have water or to call my grandma. Putting a check in front of tasks gave me a sense of accomplishment. After a week I also started tracking my goals and charting my progress. It allowed me to see change happening every day and also allowed me to see and appreciate growth in areas I wouldn’t have cared about.
As I got into the habit of putting pen to paper, I missed making art. I hadn’t painted anything in a long time. I drew a pattern and filled it in, this process in itself was such a calming experience. I found something to put my energy into while organising my thoughts. Whatever thoughts I was having or however I was feeling I put onto the page. It didn’t have to be an elaborate red and black art piece, if I felt frustrated it could simply be a sad face.
I gave myself space to be honest and expressive in any way I wanted, which made the process much simpler and relaxing.
When I see journals on social media, they are super aesthetic and beautifully kept. Keeping a journal was rendered of its real meaning and viewed as an art piece. I had to make myself understand that journaling didn’t have to have a theme, be pretty or presentable, it could just be mine. It can have a calendar on the first page and splashes of paint on the next. Some days I thought out what I wanted to draw and other days I vomited all my thoughts onto the page. Journaling became a really personal experience and I realized that it could help me as much as I let it.
Initially even journaling took effort and time. It felt almost like an obligation, until it didn’t. It stopped being a burden and became the best part of my day. It became a form of self-therapy. A few weeks ago, one of the many little things I started to do was to put down three things that I was grateful for each day. Now, my brain automatically starts to think of happy moments as soon as I rest my head on the pillow. In addition to helping me make sense of the world during this time of uncertainty, this journal will forever be a record of my feelings and thoughts, fears and questions, hopes and dreams. A year from now I can look back on the summer of 2020 and realize that I made it through all the chaos and am better because of it.