A couple of weeks ago, I wrote A Brief Look Back at 2020 for the writing prompt for that week: Write a Journal Entry About Your COVID-19 Year. And now that I think about it, I suppose this week’s writing prompt is a continuation of that writing prompt, and that journal entry.
2020 was an extremely stressful year for most of us, myself included. We all had to adjust the way we worked and lived, substantially, in one way or another. And if we haven’t yet dealt with the stress we experienced in 2020, chances are high that the same stress is still with us today. Especially since, even after a year has gone by, it doesn’t seem as if much has changed. Except for our newfound abilities to be desensitized and numb to all the chaos and persistent uncertainty that living through a pandemic has forced upon us. There is a reason, after all, that 80% of Americans reported emotions associated with prolonged stress recently.
However, the good news, especially for us writers, is that writing about what we’re stressed about can help us understand our stress better so that we can do something about it. I’ll go first. Here’s my attempt to do just that…
This week’s writing prompt: Write About What Is Stressing You Out.
April is National Stress Awareness Month in the United States. And according to a recent American Psychological Association survey, U.S. Adults Report Highest Stress Level Since Early Days of the COVID-19 Pandemic, more than 80% of Americans reported emotions associated with prolonged stress, and “2 in 3 adults (67%) said the number of issues America is facing is overwhelming to them.”
While writing about something that stresses you out may seem counterintuitive at first, studies have shown that writing in a journal or engaging in expressive writing can significantly reduce stress levels. According to studies covered in this Psychology Today article, “researchers found that expressive writing led to reduced blood pressure, improved immune system functioning, fewer visits to the doctor and shorter stays in the hospital, improved mood, reduced symptoms of depression, improved memory, and more.”
Below is my journal entry for this week’s writing prompt: Write a Journal Entry About Your COVID-19 Year. As I looked back at 2020 this week, it’s hard to believe how quickly yet slowly 2020 came and went.
Don’t forget to share your journal entry for this week’s writing prompt too. More information about how and where to do that is at the end of this post.
Writing a journal entry about 2020, the year of COVID-19, has been an interesting and unexpected journey. A journey I’m still on, I suppose, since COVID-19 is still dictating our daily lives in 2021.
As I write the journal entry for this week’s writing prompt, I’m wishing that I would have taken more meticulous notes about everything that happened in 2020, and what I was feeling and thinking about as everything was unfolding. As I write this journal entry I’m also experiencing a lot of feelings at once: sadness, grief, loneliness, boredom, gratefulness, empathy, compassion, hope, frustration, annoyance… and the list goes on from there. And for me, it’s been interesting to note that as everything was unfolding last year, I wasn’t really noticing how everything, all the day-to-day routines and daily rollercoaster of emotions, were all blurring together and affecting one another.
I’ve never been really good at writing in a journal or diary on a consistent basis. I’m good at keeping 500 notebooks that are filled with random ideas, notes, and doodles though… although I’m not sure that counts. Somehow I seem to get my ideas down in a chaotic albeit effective manner. But it sure is an adventure trying to go through them later on…
In an odd way then, while I think that I know what I should be writing for this week’s writing prompt, Write a Journal Entry About Your COVID-19 Year, I’m also not very familiar with what I should be writing at all because I’m not exactly familiar with writing in a journal on a consistent basis.
As I work on this week’s writing prompt, I want to unravel the fact and fiction of what we know about COVID-19. Misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 have been running rampant online. And it’s easy to get caught up in a daily or weekly sea of articles and memes and stats and quibbles, especially when things are so emotionally charged. So, before I start writing my own journal entry about my COVID-19 year this week, I want to take a closer look at what I think I know about COVID-19.
It’s now been just over one year since COVID-19 was declared a worldwide pandemic by the World Health Organization. Most of us will agree that 2020 was one of the weirdest years we’ve ever had. And for some of us, it was probably one of the hardest or most tragic years we’ve ever had.
While the threats of COVID-19 haven’t entirely dissipated, it does seem that they’re starting to fall behind us albeit slowly. But sometimes in order to look ahead, especially after traumatic or significant events and pandemics, it’s important to reflect and process what’s happened first. Especially in today’s always-on, rapid-paced world, where reflection is not as common but more necessary.
I’m going to take this week to reflect on my COVID-19 year, and then write a journal entry about it. Complete this writing prompt too, if you’re ready to start processing and reflecting on your COVID-19 year too.
Below is my journal entry about Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America 1619-2019 edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, for this week’s writing prompt.
If I’m being honest about my experience reading this book, I should say that I’m still processing and reflecting on a lot of what I’ve read from it.
I’ll try to keep the journal entry below brief because I don’t want to spoil the reading and learning experience for those who haven’t had the chance to read the book yet, as this book should be required reading for everyone.
The process behind writing this week’s writing prompt, Write a Journal Entry About a Book You Read on Black History, has included a lot of moments of reflection for me.
I still have about half of Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America 1619-2019 left to read this week. But I’m still thinking about one particular passage from one particular piece included within its choir of voices, “Whipped for Lying with a Black Woman” by Ijeoma Oluo. This piece holds a passage that illustrates a part of Black History we so often willfully forget or purposefully neglect to remember: how racism was codified into the very laws of our nation since its very inception, as far back as 1630 when the colonies were still taking shape.