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‘I’m all write,’ thanks to journals

by Jericho Zafra

ARE you alright?

When the COVID-19 pandemic stopped personal interactions, it took a toll on the mental health of the people, along with the threat of contracting the virus.

According to a 2022 research brief published by the World Health Organization (WHO), the frequency of anxiety and depression surged to 25 percent globally in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The information we have now about the impact of COVID-19 on the world’s mental health is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General in a research brief. “This is a wake-up call to all countries to pay more attention to mental health and do a better job of supporting their populations’ mental health.”

The exceptional stress brought on by the social alienation spurred on by the pandemic is one of the primary culprits of the upsurge. This was related to restrictions on people’s capacity to work, to ask friends and families for support, and to interact with their community at the height of the global health crisis. 

Stressors that can cause depression and anxiety include loneliness, fear of getting infected by COVID-19, suffering, concerns over one’s death or that of loved ones, loss, and financial concerns. Exhaustion has been a significant contributor to suicidal ideation in healthcare professionals, said WHO.

Experts from Michigan State University (MSU) highlighted how journaling can help lessen the impact of the pandemic on individuals.

“There are many benefits to journaling. It is an often studied, evidence-based strategy for reducing the effects of anxiety from difficult emotions, whether they stem from stress-inducing times like a global pandemic or simply everyday life,” said MSU researcher Lisa Tams in a study brief. 

Journaling helps reduce anxiety

Don’t have someone to talk to? Write it down.

Tams said that writing in a journal allows you to concentrate on your internal awareness of the present and to process your experiences, making it one of the ideal strategies to declutter your brain and get in touch with your ideas and feelings.

Journaling improves physical health

Sitting pretty? No, it improves your health.

Citing a 2018 study from the Journal of Medical Internet Research, Tams noted that chronic illness patients who kept a journal of their feelings and emotions had fewer physical symptoms than those who did not. For the duration of the 12-week study, the researchers invited 88 individuals with various chronic conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and fibromyalgia, to do journaling for 15 minutes, three days per week.

The patients who wrote about their thoughts and feelings were reported to have less mental anguish, worry, and psychological strain. They also felt social integration while journaling.

Journaling as self-expression

Dr. Sarah Willen, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut and founder of the Pandemic Journaling Project, said journaling allows everyone to “express themselves fully and publicly.” Her Pandemic Journaling Project aims to curate and collect the experiences of everyone in the pandemic through writing.

Journaling in the Philippines

Meanwhile, several students who endured the last two years of distance learning noted that writing alleviated the taxing pandemic experience considering how the post-COVID-19 era remains a “worth-to-note” experience in the country.

In a phone interview, Eliza Evangelista said she continues to use her journal even if the Philippines has relaxed restrictions and is learning to live with the coronavirus.

“I still write in journals even though we are already in our post-pandemic stage because it’s still relevant to write your experience while getting your way out of the crisis,” Evangelista said.

“Rising prices of foods, record-high inflation, lacking interactions with friends due to expensive transportation fares and pump prices, some of these are worth writing to remember how we get through these while having to deal with them separately,” she added.

Keep writing your story – this is history.



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