Tips for More Productive Journaling
Your COPD journal is a great tool for educating yourself, but it can be used in a variety of other ways. For instance, the more medical details you record, the better it will serve as a record for your doctor and pharmacist when it comes to adjusting your treatment plan.
The more time you devote to writing and building on ideas, the more you will tap into your creative energy and explore your poetic power. In any case, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to make the most out of your journaling time:
Set Aside Time Each and Every Day
You’ve likely learned the value of a good medication and treatment routine as you work to reduce your COPD symptoms. Well, the same goes for your writing: if you schedule in your writing time, you’re far more likely to stick to it, and soon enough it won’t feel like a chore.
Start small with 10 or 20 minute stretches, and try to write around the same time each day. Many people find that the evening is a good time to take up a pen – it will help you clear your head before sleep, and focus your perspective for the next day.
Focus on the Right Details
The idea is to develop and understand your thoughts, not write a prize-winning novel. Be less critical of technicalities like punctuation, and instead favor details about your day, your feelings, your reactions, and your symptoms.
Sometimes what seems insignificant at the time becomes an important detail later on. Get used to recording these things in every entry, so you can trace and treat future COPD exacerbations more easily:
- The weather, including air quality. Color coding can be helpful here!
- Your level of breathing discomfort. Is it a good or bad breathing day?
- Which medications you took that day (and how much)
- Any irritants in the air or your surroundings
- Your level of activity, amount of exercise, and degree of fatigue
- Your honest feelings about your COPD at that particular moment
The Fewer Rules, the Better
Your notebook is your blank slate, your opportunity to create, decipher, or confess anything that comes to mind. The less structure you give yourself, the more space your mind and imagination have to stretch out, and the more cathartic your journal session will be. Remember that this journal is for you and you alone – you have no reason to fear any criticism or shame, because nobody will read it (unless you ask them to).
If you find the prospect of complete freedom a bit intimidating, you’re not alone. Many writers have a difficult time marking up a blank page at first, and some find it helpful to give themselves a word or theme as a jumping-off point. Take a simple idea like “change”, “strength”, or “peace” and see where it leads you.
There’s a certain degree of trial and error involved in treating a chronic disease, especially one as volatile as COPD. Fortunately, journaling is a bit of a shortcut to a better COPD management plan. After all, the closer you monitor your symptoms, and how they intersect with other aspects of your routine, the more control you have over your lung health and quality of life.