Journaling
It might help you too. (Illustration by Francesca Mahaney, Pratt Institute)
Thoughts x
Journaling

It may sound like a cliché to “journal away your feelings,” but maybe there’s a reason for that.

Journaling wasn’t something I always did, even as an English major. If I ever did, it would be for classes that required it, but I never did it in my free time because I was always busy with something else, or I just didn’t feel like it. Either way, I had better ways to spend my time.

Eventually, after some personal issues, I made the decision to go to my school’s counseling services. I was dealing with a lot of pent-up anger and depression, and I really had no healthy outlet for it. After a couple of sessions, I was told to take up journaling as a possible alternative, to let my emotions out. I thought it would be a waste of time, but I was out of ideas for another option.

It took a while before I picked up the habit; I would journal for maybe a day or two, but I wouldn’t actually put any effort in it because I always hit a mind block. I wouldn’t know what to write about once I had my pen in hand and journal open. Needless to say, it was a struggle, but I knew I had to at least try.

I don’t know when my habit of journaling took off, but I know that once it did, I started feeling better. I would put on some music and get lost in my thoughts as I wrote about what was bothering me or just whatever was going on. Even if my hand felt like it was cramping up, I didn’t stop until I felt like I couldn’t hold on to the pen anymore.

In a way, journaling was a way I could express all my anger without keeping it locked up in my mind. I was able to focus better on my studies, because everything that was bothering me had been put away in my journal. I was able to think more clearly, because I didn’t have so many negative feelings getting in the way of things.

It might sound like a cliché thing to do, but I promise: It works. I didn’t see results right away; it took some time before I noticed the changes in my mood. It also took genuine effort by actually taking the time to journal, and not just writing a sentence or two to get it out of the way, for me to feel better and not have so many pent-up emotions.

There are many benefits to journaling, and studies show that keeping a journal is a way to heal yourself emotionally, physically and psychologically. It’s a way to let go of the stress and anxiety that you might be feeling on a daily basis.

While I journaled about my anger and things that were overwhelming me, you can also journal about positive thoughts and feelings. It’s been shown that writing about good experiences can allow you to relive it, and it helps when you’re feeling self-doubt later on.

Nowadays, I don’t journal as often as I would like to, but I know that I have the option should things get too overwhelming again. I stopped journaling daily because I thought that my problems wouldn’t affect me anymore, but, after some time, I was proven wrong. In that case, I continued to journal for some time after that, but then I stopped once life got too busy, and I just forgot to get back to it.

Journaling isn’t a one-and-done kind of deal. Although it won’t solve all your issues, it can help you feel more at ease if you do it daily. You’ll need to discipline yourself into keeping it up. It can be a bit challenging to find time in the day, with life being as hectic and busy as it can be, but as long as you make the effort and are genuine about doing it, then you’re on the right track to feeling better, mentally and emotionally.

When I journaled, I would write a lot more than I had intended to, because I just had so much pent-up emotion that it would be difficult to stop writing. Not everyone should journal pages and pages right away, or at all. My advice would be to journal at your own pace; start off with maybe half a page or one full page, and then go from there.

You can put some music while you journal, if you feel like that’s your thing, or if you prefer silence, you can take that route as well. When I was living in a dorm, I liked to journal there, because I was in the comfort of my own room. Everyone is different, and how and where you choose to journal is up to you as long as you see that it’s helping you.

Journaling isn’t the only way to improve your emotional and mental health. Like I mentioned earlier, I went to a counselor, who helped me out a lot. If things in life are getting too overwhelming and stressful, and journaling isn’t cutting it, feel free to contact your school’s counseling services. That’s what they’re there for.

Life can be stressful and crazy, so it’s important to find a healthy way to cope with what life throws at us on a daily basis. Journaling was a way for me to cope with my issues, and it helped a lot, and I know it will be something I can turn to again if I need it.

Try journaling for a bit and see how it helps you. All you have to do is find a time and place to do so and go from there. There’s nothing to lose (and a lot to gain) by journaling, so give it a shot; you just might like it.

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