It would be an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted most every part of day-to-day life. It has become rather common for one to be at increased risk of isolation, economic difficulty, and hopelessness and helplessness. Son et al. (2020) indicate that college students in the United States are experiencing more stress, depression, and anxiety as a result. During such an unprecedented time that no one could have predicted, there is not much present research for how to cope with such a significant worldwide pandemic. However, what is apparent is that coping strategies previously recognized as helpful during other challenging circumstances may provide valuable insight into how to cope with the current epidemic. Polizzi, Jay Lynn, and Perry (2020) cite Pennebaker and Seagal’s (1999) research on expressive writing to support recommendation of keeping a daily diary of events, goals, and life lessons learned from adversity. They suggest that this can have psychological and physical benefits. Proposed reasons that journal writing can be effective include: 1) cognitive changes via changing traumatic experiences into written language and 2) decreased inhibition allowing for more comfort with disclosure (Pennebaker, 1997). Expressive writing, specifically by writing down thoughts and feelings, can relieve negative feelings and thoughts by gaining increased insight and understanding (Park, Ramirez, & Beilock, 2014; Kent, 2014). The external process of writing about challenging life events can help facilitate the integration and construction of new knowledge, which can contribute to greater life satisfaction (Alvarez, 2016; Lyubomisky & Dickerhoof, 2006).
Whether or not you choose to submit your writing to Telling Our Stories and the Together/Apart Archive, writing out your feelings and experiences can be personally helpful and a good coping mechanism worth trying. Should engaging in the writing exercises bring up personal distress, it is recommended to reach out to California State University, San Marcos Student Health & Counseling Services at (760)750-4915 to schedule a meeting with a mental health counselor.