One morning in conversation with my writing group, I mentioned how the stress of the pandemic was disrupting my emotional environment. We joked that the needs of our inner emotional environments deserve as much protection as those of the planet’s environment. I thought about that exchange throughout the day and realized the seriousness of that statement: ME—my body, mind and soul—is my first and primary residence that deserves protection because a healthy emotional environment helps me do things like grow as an artist, maintain healthy relationships and yes, save the planet.

As a writer and a (relentless) multitasker, I wondered how my regular writing practice could help maintain a healthy emotional environment. My daily journaling became regular “emotional weather” checks to track the emotional climate changes that affect my Nancy environment. Following are three steps you can take to nurture and sustain your own environment through journaling.

  • Set a realistic schedule and a dedicated journal.

Consider an amount of time you can dedicate to journaling that won’t stress you out: daily or on designated days? To begin your day, as a midday temperature check or an end-of-day reflection?  A regularly scheduled check-in in a dedicated journal provides a record where you can note patterns, triggers, and ultimately effective responses to negative climate events and ways to savor and nurture positive climate events. [Note: Not fond of pen and paper? Consider an audio journal; most voice recording features and apps include a transcription function.]

  • Ask “How’s my weather?”

We’re used to observing outside climate conditions and considering how these affect our actions; we can use that same language and level of observation to assess what’s going on inside emotionally. (Again, that relentless multitasker in me: taking a skill I already have and re-purposing it.) How would you describe your weather at that precise moment: cloudy? Overcast with a chance of thunderstorms? Write in detail about the real-feel temperature you’re feeling (chilly and dropping) and actual conditions you’re experiencing not-so-temperate responses and reactions). Just as you would before going outside, consider what you need for your present emotional weather: what will protect you from stormy conditions (less sugar, more water and deep breaths)? What might help you make the most of good conditions (feeling good = good time to accomplish a task that needs focus)?

Be your own weather person: consider what’s been brewing and building up and ask what environmental changes have contributed to the present moment.

  • Create and commit to a climate treaty.

States and nations use collected information to develop and commit to plans to effectively and positively address climate change. You deserve that level of commitment too: a commitment to eliminating the toxic waste and nurturing the positive habits that encourage healing and long-term growth. A really important question to ask: do you need to bring in partners, form an alliance with a supportive group or perhaps have a talk with someone who is contributing to unhealthy conditions in your environment? The observations in your journal will help you develop the contract–for others and for yourself–set goals and detail the steps that will nurture the healthy emotional environment you seek and deserve,