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Decluttering your mind

Jing Lejano takes her time processing thoughts about the pandemic through journaling.

Experiencing unprecedented events such as this pandemic left us lost and anxious. Given the circumstances with all the social distancing and strict lockdown protocols, we have to have a strong mind to get through it all.

Jing Lejano, former editor of Good Housekeeping magazine, takes us to a journey of mind improvement amid COVID-19 by sharing how journaling can keep us afloat especially from our internal battles.

With all the clutter around, learn how to declutter your mind with Jing.

Daily Tribune (DT): Our guest for today is a single mom of four, the “lula” of one, a writer, editor, publisher of She used to be the editor of Good Housekeeping.

How have you been spending your quarantine?

Jing Lejano (JL): At home. I have been writing and cooking and tending to a secret garden, which is funny because I never thought I’d do it. And I’m like looking at what is happening around. The pandemic can be really exciting.

DT: How did you face the coronavirus crisis? What was your reaction when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic?

JL: There’s a lot of information to be processed because, number one, I didn’t know anything about the pandemic except when I watched a Netflix documentary about it right before they declared that we were in a pandemic. Of course, parang, ano na mangyayari, right?

My initial thoughts when they first did a lockdown (was) that it was the right choice, but I didn’t anticipate that it would be a lockdown for 150-plus days. At this point, mental health becomes really important because it is not normal. They are saying that this is the new normal, but this is not normal. You are stuck at home. You don’t know what is going to happen. There are a lot of uncertainties, so there’s always this “how are you going to process that information?” in your head.

DT: How did you handle it?

JL: What was funny was before, in social media, I would share posts once in a while but I guess in the pandemic, I started to share more and then I found out that I was writing more as well because it helped me process; kasi writing is my thing. I’m a writer, I don’t see it as my profession, I see it as my passion.

I write for my personal pleasure and processing my stuff. A few years ago, when I was going through personal s***, I wrote everything.

At that time, I was so angry that I was just writing. It was therapeutic, so during this time, that’s what I did as well. I found myself writing and sharing more and more on social media. And then I ended up compiling everything that I did on Canva and shared it to my friends. Their feedback was that’s exactly what they would do — there are a lot of feelings aside from sadness, you get angry, you get mad, you get bored. Sometimes you are happy.

DT: Show us your step-by-step process.

JL: I’ve always believed that to write is to confess because you say a lot about yourself and journaling is the perfect take. So why do you journal at this time? Because there’s a lot of stuff going through your head, right. I’m sure you find yourself doom-scrolling and doom-surfing and after that, you need to get better.

There are actually benefits from journaling that have been researched on and studied by psychologists. Of course, it allows you to organize your thoughts. It allows you to process and make sense of what is happening especially now and you are able to prioritize your concerns because, let’s face it, there are a lot of things happening right now. You can’t feel for everybody all at the same time.

Write whatever you feel and be honest about it.

There’s this study saying that it helps you get rid of intrusive thoughts about negative events. When you release your sh**, it goes hard and you come out unclear. It allows you to manage anxiety and cope with depression because when you write, you transfer your thoughts onto paper and it’s tangible, the transferring of your thoughts to paper. One of the studies said that, “Something as simple as writing about the problem for 20 minutes can yield important effects not only in terms of physical and mental health, but also in terms of cognitive abilities.”

It seems easy but if you want to form a habit, you have to do it consistently for days. If you want to get into the habit of journaling, you need to do it every day. Me, I write every night before I sleep. It’s just you and your paper or the laptop.

Journaling is not just about writing. You can draw, you can post photos, post clippings and do anything you wish. This is a journal that I kept so I actually had pictures that I printed and wrote something on the side.

DT: It’s been said that it’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to release and express one’s saddest feelings. But it’s also okay to be okay. To be happy and to express gratitude.

JL: Your feelings are valid so whatever you are feeling is okay. And I say that because I am a single mom, so you know that I feel a lot of things. Another writing prompt is that are there things you wished you had done today? Maybe tomorrow you can do it because let’s face it, we are on lockdown for a longer time. We can also share about experiences. What experience made you go “wow” today? What experience made you go laugh out loud today? What made you say WTF today? Isn’t it just a great time to be a writer because there are so many things happening?

DT: Any final messages for everyone?

JL: I just want to say that we’re all in this together. We are all in quarantine together and if you’re feeling all these feelings, you are not alone. If you don’t want to share them, journaling is the right thing to do because you can be as honest as you can be. I think right now, it’s important for you to have a support group because what we have right now is unprecedented. Sometimes, there’s just too much information that you have to process and there’s a tendency to just block them all out. Just be real, be honest and please take care. Don’t go out if you don’t need to.

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