Journal Through Your Journey

By: Shekeitha L. Jeffries, Assistant Director of Student Life

Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

Did you know that journaling can help you live a more productive and healthier life? According to an article published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), journaling is one the most recommended tools to help manage mental illness. Journaling can help you clarify your thoughts and gain a deeper understanding of yourself. While journaling cannot solve your problems, it can help you  work through anxiety and stress, as you navigate your personal and academic journey.

There is no right or wrong way to journal, and you can begin today! Here are a few strategies to help you get started:

  • Determine a method that is best for you.  You can journal in a notebook, an online app such as penzu or you can start a blog in which you share your personal thoughts with others. Not sure which one will work for you?  Test the waters and try different options, to figure out which method will work for you and your personal style.
  • Be consistent. Find time to journal daily and make a commitment to follow through. Set aside time in the morning or evening to journal and do your best to limit distractions. There will be days that you may not be able to write, but that’s okay.  Regroup and keep going.
  • Don’t worry about what you should write about. There are no rules, when it comes to journaling. You can write about whatever you want, as you are the chief editor. Your journal can include notes about academic accomplishments, personal challenges, positive affirmations and future goals.  If you get stuck, feel free to use writing prompts for inspiration.

It is important to remain aware of your emotional state during challenging times. Although journaling is simple, it is an effective way to help you cope and alleviate stress. You can create a gratitude journal, a prayer journal, bullet journal, or a dream journal: its totally up to you! To learn more about how you can journal through your journey, click here.

You Can Handle This!

Image by kdbcms from Pixabay

By Kevin Casin, PhD, Former Student Life Program Assistant

Note: This week’s post is from our archives and written by our former program assistant. Many of us are facing both giants and windmills today (as described below). Whatever you’re facing, Student Life is here to support you!

I (Kevin) have a habit of making small challenges into giants, something we all might do from time to time. I invite you to examine the challenges and see them for what they really are; a blip in the road. Making a mountain out of a mole hill is extremely common and can often be a tremendous source of stress. In the story of Don Quixote, a deluded old man,  believing that he is a knight out to correct the wrongs of the world, charges at a giant in his path. With his lance in hand and his faithful stead, he challenges the giant only to find that it nothing more than a windmill. A frantic Sancho, Don’s loyal squire, races towards him and tries to reason with the old man. Sancho gets nowhere because Don is convinced that there are mystic forces opposing his righteous plight. Despite the pleas of Don’s most trusted friend, there is nothing that can be done to bring him out of his delusion. Allow me to be your Sancho. Few things in this world are that big. Sometimes, it’s just a windmill and you can handle this!

“Pray look better, Sir… those things yonder are no giants, but windmills.”

– Miguel de Cervantes

Here a few strategies to help you to discern windmills from giants:

1) Experimental Method: Turn your negative thoughts into an experiment and test them out. Use the scientific method and reason with your negative thoughts. Develop a hypothesis, ask questions and collect the evidence, then draw conclusions based on the evidence. Did you come up with a giant? Give it a try! We are all scientists here!

2) Survey Method: Consult with your support group (i.e. trusted friends and family) if your thoughts are realistic. Objective, and trustworthy, perspectives can be valuable. Of course get these perspectives from trusted people. Asking someone just hanging out a bus stop might not be the best idea, but a trusted friend or family member can be very helpful. Sometimes all we need is some perspective.

3) See Attached Document! Some issues require us to work through them in a more detailed way. Coping with Dilemmas by Russ Harris provides additional steps/perspectives for working through nagging dilemmas.

Stay Social While Distancing

by: Shekeitha L. Jeffries, Assistant Director of Student Life

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

Our current crisis has forced many individuals to embrace their new normal, which includes social distancing.  In an article published by Johns Hopkins HUB, “Social distancing is a public health practice that aims to prevent sick people from coming in close contact with healthy people in order to reduce opportunities for disease transmission.”

Outlined below are a few activities, that can help you stay social while distancing from others. These suggestions can help relieve stress, decrease anxiety and help you have fun – while engaging with others!

  • CONNECT WITH LOVED ONES: Foster your relationships and reach out to your loved ones daily, by calling to check in and say hello. You can connect with your loved ones via video chat using WhatsApp or Google Hangouts to see their beautiful faces or send free e-greeting cards to let them know, they’re in your thoughts.
  • JOIN A VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB: Is there a book that you’ve wanting to read? Want to make new friends?  Consider joining a virtual book club and get carried away with a good book! Try searching Facebook or Goodreads for virtual book clubs or start your own using bookmovement.com.
  • DISCOVER A NEW PODCAST: Tackle the fourth term, with a little pick-me-up, by exploring new podcasts. According to Forbes, podcasts are perfect for those with busy lives, because they provide bite-sized content that can be educational and entertaining. To help lift your spirits, check out the Good Life Project podcast for inspiration from: Brene Brown, Kyle Carpenter, Sophia Chang, plus more. For more podcast recommendations, click here.
  • ATTEND A VIRTUAL PARTY: This past weekend, celebrity DJ D-Nice, hosted a free nine-hour, virtual party. The party took place via Instagram LIVE with over 100K viewers, including Michelle Obama, Lenny Kravitz, Halle Berry, Mark Zuckerberg and other celebrities – who danced the night away, from the comfort of their own homes. According to The New Yorker, this event was “part dance party, part social-media therapy, and a health-policy initiative.” Find your next virtual dance party, by searching Facebook, Instagram or another social media platform. 

For additional ideas, to help you remain social while distancing, please click here

As a graduate student, this may be a difficult time in your life, as you navigate the evolving crisis, strive to complete your studies remotely and adjust to social distancing. You are not alone in your efforts, and the JHSPH community is here to support you. Please be sure to reach out to your professors, TA’s as well as the Office of Student Life for support. 

For more information about the Coronavirus, visit the www.coronavirus.jhu.edu and www.cdc.gov.