There is something so satisfying and soothing about emptying all of the contents of your mind into a journal. This may be exactly what many us need with how stressful the world is right now. However, for those of us prone to rumination, going full steam ahead into journaling may not be the best idea.
Personally, I used to love journaling. After a particularly stressful day, I would sit and write for hours getting everything and anything out of my brain so it could stay pinned down on the paper instead of floating around inside my head. This was incredibly calming and therapeutic for me until I got into the nasty habit of ruminating on the same few topics over and over and over again. As you can imagine, sitting down and repeatedly writing about the same things was incredibly counterproductive to the point that when I finished journaling, I would feel more anxious than when I started! When I noticed this, I stopped journaling altogether.
Yet, being quarantined has tempted me to try it again for that nostalgic post journaling catharsis. This time though, I am taking it slowly and carefully managing myself to avoid any downward thought spirals.
So what do you do if you're prone to rumination and want to give journalingn a try? I recomend the following tips to keep you sane:
Set a limit
This can be a time limit, a page limit, a topic repetition limit, whatever works best for you. The goal here is to keep yourself from spiraling by essentially creating a little mental stop sign for yourself. So when that timer goes off or you reach that page limit, drop the pen and step away. With more time on your hands and with many of us living completely alone, it is all too easy to spend many uninterrupted hours journaling oneself into a thought spiral.
Certain topics are off limits when your mood is low
If you are feeling down, this may not be the time to start writing about your ex. To keep your journaling from becoming maladaptive, it's a good idea, especially when you are writing about sensitive topics, to only write when you feel in control as this can ensure you are in the right headspace to step away after you have reached your limit.
But if you just can't manage, stop journaling
If you can't seem to find a way to journal without falling deep into ruminations, it's probably a good idea to find a new coping skill, at least until isolation is lifted. This is absolutely not the time to take a chance on sending yourself down a rabbit hole to your mind's rollercoaster from hell.