Have you started a Covid-19 journal or accumulating your quarantine memories? Here are some reasons you should as well as what you might include.
Historians Will Look Back at this Pandemic
Have you noticed how many times the word “unprecedented” has been used in the last weeks? That’s not simply a lack of vocabulary imagination. What we’re facing is historically significant. Decades from now, readers will want to read covid-19 stories and viewpoints.
In fact, institutions are already collecting covid-19 narratives. In her article, What Historians Will See When They Look Back on the Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020 for the New York Times, Audra D. S. Burch explains:
Universities, archives and historical societies, ranging from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to a tiny college radio station in Pennsylvania, are rushing to collect and curate the personal accounts of how people are experiencing this sprawling public health crisis as told in letters and journals, audio and video oral histories, and on social media.
Your Family Will Want to Know How the Novel Coronavirus Affected You
Can you imagine if you had your grandparents diary of their lives during the 1918 flu pandemic? What a treasure that would be!
Aside for the historical value, it would give an insight into how the family coped during a crisis. Of what mattered the most to them.
Cathartic and Therapeutic Advantages to Journaling
Writing, as well as other creative expressions, bring perspective and can lower stress. In her article, Writing Therapy: Using A Pen and Paper to Enhance Personal Growth, Courtney E. Ackerman, MSc explains how writing can help us during times of heightened anxiety.
In individuals who have experienced a traumatic or extremely stressful event, expressive writing can have a significant healing effect. In fact, participants in a study who wrote about their most traumatic experiences for 15 minutes, four days in a row, experienced better health outcomes up to four months later (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005).
Though you might not choose to share EVERYTHING (or anything) you write, the process of writing can help us cope.
Create in other forms
If writing doesn’t appeal to you, you can draw, paint, or scrapbook and add captions. You can assemble an array of videos. There’s no single right way to create a covid-19 journal.
What to write in your Covid-19 Journal
Don’t stick to summarizing the news. Although the statistics where you live will add context to your story, make sure your narratives are personal.
Remember, we’re not all having the same experience. For some people, the pandemic and physical distancing measures have come almost as a forced deep breath. A “great pause” to steal Dan Earl’s word from a hectic daily life. For others, especially those encountering financial devastation or health vulnerabilities, “pandemic normal” is wrought with fear and anxiety. Still others (me included) find themselves busier than normal.
Covid-19 Journal Prompts
- Describe your family’s situation. Include day-to-day changes, including little things like foraging for food, having family share your workspace, and kids not going to school.
- What fears do you have? This might be as important for you to acknowledge as it will be for others to read.
- Measures you’re taking to stay in contact with loved ones. For example, one of my friends had her husband film her outside jumping in mud puddles to share with her grandchildren, because it would make them laugh. My family is having game nights over Zoom.
- What role has technology played in your ability to connect with others? What are you doing to bridge any technology gap?
- How do you think you’re faring in comparison to other people? Do you think you do better with the lack of a face-to-face social life or worse?
- Have there been any health impacts on you and your loved ones?
- What have you learned? A young girl (11) in my neighborhood wrote her teacher that she has learned that she definitely wants to go to college “because I can NOT deal with my parents for the rest of my life or I’ll explode.” She also wrote that she has learned to treasure visits from friends, “because they don’t happen a lot anymore.” Reading that is poignant.
- How do other family members’ perspectives differ from your own?
- What silver linings have you observed? How have they changed your perspective?
- Other weird circumstances: For instance, I’m writing about my husband’s reluctance to call our adults sons because we have nothing to talk about.
- Write about humorous moments. Many of us now fully understand why the dog loves to look out the window.
- What about the current situation have you come to cherish? Is there anything you’d keep about pandemic life if you could?