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Applying expressive writing to COVID-19-related stress

This pandemic has been wild. 2 years into it and we still aren’t quite out of it yet. Not only were we unprepared for this novel virus, but we were also very much unprepared to deal with it for this long. Of course, the experience of this pandemic varies from person to person, but, at the end of the day, we are all going through it. It affects our work, our mental health, our relationships, our immediate lives, and our future selves.

Can we just take a moment to appreciate this is really a huge event that shouldn’t just be passed up? Why should we act as if this was nothing and go back to normal? Do we even want to go back to pre-pandemic life?

Regardless of what the future holds, we can do things, even small things, to get us into a better place for that future. Expressive writing can do just that on 2 levels: it can decrease negative feelings and it can increase positive feelings.

What I want to do here is talk through expressive writing in everyday life so you can see if you think this would be worth it for you!

First and foremost, try to remember a few things while or after you write. No one else will see this, so really let go. Don’t care about structure, tone, spelling, anything other than getting your thoughts and feelings out. The other thing is to remember that you are talking about negative things so you’ll likely feel more negative than usual. This will only last a bit, but just be aware it does tend to happen and it’s normal.

Here are some situations you may have especially felt during the pandemic and some writing prompts for you to try to help move through these situations in a healthy manner.

-You got into an argument with your partner or a family member because not enough personal space/boundaries; you are all in the same house all the time after all.

1. First, try not to problem-solve. Just give yourself space to write about your emotions. How does it make you feel when they intrude? Are they clingy? Do you feel like you want to tell them off? Are you irritated because they can’t control themselves? What is it? And how does it make you feel? Just focus on your emotions for the next 15 minutes. Once you start writing, try not to stop and think too much. Write whatever comes to mind.

2. If the first session of writing wasn’t enough, maybe try another to just get out more emotions or thoughts about the situation. Really allow yourself to express your emotions.

3. Now, try to look at the situation from a different perspective. It could be you in the future, it could be someone else you really respect, it could even be a higher spiritual power . What would they say about the story? What do they see? Is it different than what you are seeing?

4. Can you rewrite this narrative all together? You had your perspective, and now you have seen another perspective as well. Perhaps through writing both of these perspectives, you can now rewrite, reframe, and reclaim what is actually happening in this story the next time you think about it. Try doing that here.

This set of 4 prompts should all be 15 minutes each spaced out by a day. Hopefully by the end of it, you can find some peace about your annoying partner.

-Your child is being a brat.