Weekend Projects

The Best Thing You Can Do With 20 Minutes and a Piece of Paper, Especially if You’re Feeling Anxious

published May 15, 2020
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Apartment Therapy Weekend Projects is a guided program designed to help you get the happy, healthy home you’ve always wanted, one weekend at a time. Sign up now for email updates so you never miss a lesson.

I can chart my quarantine journey through the memes that have spoken to me along the way. From toilet paper hoarding jokes, to social distancing cats that hiss at people who get too close, to irritated introverts who snap at their partners for blinking… I relate.

I saw something this morning that was, sure, funny, but also made me take pause. I cannot find it now, of course, but it was a tweet (I think?) that got shared, all about how we all got quarantined and had time to sit with our own thoughts and then we all went, nah, I’ll go make some homemade bread instead.

Guilty as charged with the homemade bread, but it didn’t occur to me—maybe because I didn’t take the time to sit with the thought—that all my newfound time and energy for baking could, in part, be a way I’m running away from my thoughts. Not that that’s always a bad thing. “Getting out of your head” is sometimes the best remedy for a looming anxiety spiral. But I, for one, don’t want to miss what my thoughts might be trying to teach me. I don’t want to skip over the insights or stunt any personal growth or bypass the processing that needs to happen in this slow burn fight-or-flight we’re all in, in one way or another.

Which brings me to something that I know I need to do more of: journaling. If you’ve ever had an inkling to journal, and even if you haven’t, now is a better time than ever before to dip your toes into a practice that has outsized payoffs.

Specifically related to anxiety (I think it’s safe to say we’re all grappling with a bit more than usual), journaling has been shown to calm and clear the mind, release pent-up feelings and stress, and help with letting go of negative thoughts, and can maybe even improve your physical health in the long-term. The act goes beyond just helping yourself through this difficult time. Writing down the everyday experience is an important part of recording this unprecedented historical moment.

Let’s give it a try this weekend.

This Weekend: Journal for 20 minutes.

Grab any notebook, a piece of paper, or that empty journal you have sitting on your bookshelf. You could type, but handwriting itself is meditative so do try to write by hand. Find a quiet, distraction-free time and place to sit with your thoughts (maybe while the dough rises?) and write.

If facing a blank page intimidates you or you just feel like you don’t know where to start, check out these coronavirus-related journal prompts specifically related to right now.

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You can catch up with weekend projects right here. Share your progress with us and others by posting updates and photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #atweekendproject.

Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.