If you’ve been feeling drawn to jotting your feelings down in a diary over the last few months, you’re certainly not alone.
Experts from RMIT University say that diary writing is having a resurgence in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Writing can help you sort through your feelings and offload worries during an especially stressful period of time.
But, these days, diary-style writing isn’t just confined to the physical pages of a notebook. Many people post musings of their life and experiences online, which acts as a digital form of diary keeping.
“Diary-keeping was like turning to a trusted friend and pouring your heart out, although in a much more intimate way – there was only you, the pen and the paper,” Dr Peta Murray, a Vice-Chancellor’s postdoctoral research fellow at RMIT University, told medianet.
“But now we’re realising it can be done more casually than that, simply as a way to connect with others by connecting with ourselves. Never before have we had easier access to witness the experiences of so many others. It’s not just about social media, people have become more willing to share.”
While the thought of keeping an actual diary might seem twee or conjure up images from your pre-teen years, it’s actually been shown to have a positive impact on you psychologically.
According to Dr Robyn Moffitt, a lecturer in Psychology in the School of Health and Biomedical Sciences at RMIT University, keeping a diary is a useful way to engage in healthy self-monitoring of your thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
“Reflecting on past events in our mind can often lead to self-critical and unhelpful thinking, or even rumination, which can exacerbate distress,” she said.
“But keeping a diary and writing things down as they happen can provide perspective on the frequency and severity of different events. We can use this to correct distorted thinking. It can allow us to process and reconstrue past events, problem-solve and create new meanings. In some ways, this makes it similar to psychotherapy.”
If you’re keen to get in the habit of diary writing, The Conversation has a few handy tips. Firstly, you have to decide on your platform. Is it digital or analogue? Written or spoken work? Whatever works for you, go with it!
Then, you have to make a commitment to yourself that you’ll engage in this activity every day (or a set number of days) for at least four weeks in order to create a habit. Finally, set aside time around the same hour every day and start writing. Enjoy!