When they first announced the lockdown, it was a shock to my system. Processing emotions is one of the most difficult things to do but I have found writing cathartic during these past months. In the same way as a brisk walk will help your overall mental wellbeing, writing will help you process difficult emotions and free up space in your mind.
According to Dr. James W. Pennebaker, author of "Opening Up by Writing It Down", expressive writing helps us break free from endless rumination. Writing engages your brain in an intellectual process that helps you make sense of your inner thoughts.
Please note: writing in a journal will never replace therapy so if you think you might be dealing with serious mental health issues please seek professional help as soon as possible. Writing may well be part of your treatment plan.
Here are my top tips for writing to clear your mind:
1. Create a cosy writing ambience
Pick a quiet spot where you won’t get interrupted and make it as cosy as possible. I love to light a calming scented candle, brewing a cup of green tea, and snuggling up with a soft throw and pillows to create the perfect ambience for my writing.
2. Get your stationery sorted
It is important to enjoy the process of writing so don’t just pick any old notebook or pen. Try and find a notebook with lovely thick pages that the ink doesn’t bleed through and with a lay-flat binding – there is nothing worse than a notebook that won’t lay flat! I also have my favourite pen with a sharp nib because it makes my handwriting look much neater and flows across the page effortlessly. I realise that I am of course biased when it comes to stationery but I honestly believe that it alleviates your mood almost immediately and makes you want to write more and I know I’m not the only one!
3. Write when you feel like it
I very rarely have long stretches of writing in my planner every day. Even the most consistent person on earth will not be able to keep a daily habit for a long time and that is ok. Leave your journal at your cosy place and come back to it when you want to. I find that removing any pressure to write results in me writing more often because when you feel obligated then eventually you will give up the writing habit entirely.
4. No space for perfection
Perfection is the enemy of progress so don’t worry about making “mistakes” in your notebook – there is no such thing. Scribble, cross things out, alternate between poems and prose – your journal is YOUR place to express yourself and let it all out.
Hopefully these tips help you and I would love to hear how writing is helping.