Are you finding it hard to cope with self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic? First of all, great job on self-isolating. It’s the right thing to do and will go a long way toward stopping the contagion from spreading any further.
However, you do need to find ways to maintain your health, especially your mental health, during self-isolation. There’s one easy-to-use tool that’s available to anyone that’s also impactful: expressive writing.
What is Expressive Writing?
Expressive writing is a form of therapy where a person writes about past emotional experiences. The key is that the writer focuses on feelings and emotions rather than describing events and facts.
It’s an effective tool that helps anyone deal with strong emotions including traumatic events. You can leverage the power of words to manage your emotions during self-isolation.
Using expressive writing as a creative and therapeutic tool can lead to a journey of self-discovery along with better mental health.
Why does Expressive Writing Work?
Spending all your time at home is challenging even if you’re a remote worker or a student with work to do. You can easily develop unhealthy thoughts that may spiral; this happens when you ruminate on the same ideas without any outlet.
So, what makes expressive writing work and why should you do it?
The key to healthily removing unhelpful thoughts is to express them. When you write about thoughts and feelings, you face them instead of letting them swirl around in your mind. When you’ve faced your thoughts, you’re finally in a position to process them and deal with them through rational and intelligent thinking.
Putting down your emotions in black and white allows you to organize your thinking. It also compels you to start an intellectual process that ends the cycle of brooding. Once you’ve expressed your feelings, you’ll feel lighter and have the freedom to move on to what’s important in life.
How to do Expressive Writing?
One of the reasons why expressive writing is a great tool is that anyone can do it. It’s also cost-effective; all you need is a tool to write. You can use a pen and paper or dedicate an entire journal for expressive writing. You can also create a private blog or use an app on your phone.
One way to make expressive writing work for you is to use a ‘freewriting’ approach.
When starting to write, choose a thought or an issue that’s occupying your mind. Set a timer for a 20-minute interval. During the entire 20 minutes, do not edit, pause, or stop writing for any reason. Let your thoughts flow through uninterrupted and don’t pay any attention to grammar, spelling, or punctuation.
Simply express your feelings and let them appear on paper or on the screen. Once you’re done, try to analyze your thoughts and and check whether your feelings have a basis in reality. We often tend to think in extremes and overgeneralize – which leads to troubled thoughts.
Expressive writing helps you get all your feelings out and gives you a chance to counter any unfounded thoughts.
There are several books and helpful resources that will help you develop the expressive writing skill. You can even join an online course or a membership site to get tips. Feel free to use colorful pens if you’re writing by hand. There are also beautiful online journals that will allow you to make entries through an app on your mobile phone.
Strengthen Your Mental Health During Self-Isolation
Keeping your mind in a healthy state is vital for yourself and for the people around you. Expressive writing has profound benefits for people dealing with traumatic events, anxiety, and other severe issues. It’s certain to create a happier and healthier mindset as you manage a daily routine at home.
Start using expressive writing techniques right away as an outlet for your emotions. It’s also a good practice to make it part of your daily routine by doing it a specific time, for example, when you wake up or before going to bed. You’ll develop mental stamina and will be able to use self-isolation as a way to grow.