Pandemic bringing diaries back with a twist

Modern diary-keeping helping Australians navigate troubled times.

Diary-keeping has experienced a resurgence as a method of coping with change and COVID-19, according to RMIT University. 

But the days of a locked notebook hidden away under a mattress or in the deep recesses of a closet are long gone 

RMIT Vice-Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Peta Murray said many people kept a diary on social media without realising it.

Regular social media posts, videos and visual collages fit the modern definition of diary entries.

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“Diary-keeping was like turning to a trusted friend and pouring your heart out, although in a much more intimate way – there was only you, the pen and the paper - but now we’re realising it can be done more casually than that, simply as a way to connect with others by connecting with ourselves,” Dr Murray said.

“Never before have we had easier access to witness the experiences of so many others.

“It’s not just about social media, people have become more willing to share.”

RMIT School of Health and Biomedical Sciences lecturer Dr Robyn Moffit said diary-keeping helped the write to process their emotions, thoughts and behaviour.

“Reflecting on past events in our mind can often lead to self-critical and unhelpful thinking, or even rumination, which can exacerbate distress,” Dr Moffit said.

“But keeping a diary and writing things down as they happen can provide perspective on the frequency and severity of different events. We can use this to correct distorted thinking.

“It can allow us to process and reconstrue past events, problem-solve and create new meanings. In some ways, this makes it similar to psychotherapy.”

How to keep a modern diary

  1. Choose your medium and platform – this could be writing, photographs, drawing or video and take place on social media, in a notebook or an app.
  2. Make an entry each day or set a set number of days each week.
  3. Set aside time each day to complete your diary entry.
  4. Repeat.