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The importance of journaling: get your pens out!

Aaron Burden via Unsplash

We’ve all had a journal at some point in our lives; a place where you could write your deepest thoughts and secrets, venting to its pages about the things you do and did. In elementary school, you might have called it a diary. Now, you might call it the notes app on your phone, or the book filled with blank pages on your bed’s nightstand.

Journaling is something that everyone has done, and something that everyone should be doing. It’s been long known for the benefits it reaps like reducing stress, managing anxiety, and acting as a means to cope with depression. It can help to improve your mood by helping to prioritize fears and concerns, providing an opportunity to evaluate and identify problems.

Pure Julia via Unsplash

On the surface level, journaling is great for your mental health, although recent research documented on APA’s (American Psychological Association) website explains new findings on just how important journaling can be. These studies, undergone by psychologist Kitty Klein and postdoctoral fellow Adriel Boals, explain that expressive writing like journaling can actually help people simplify and organize fragmented memories. This means it is directly linked to bettering cognitive function, particularly when people wrote about their negative experiences. This was further proven when the grades of students who participated in the research improved significantly afterward as opposed to those in the experiment who did not write expressively.

In my own life, journaling has changed my day-to-day mentality drastically. I initially started journaling 3 months ago because I thought it would be a good habit to have, documenting my day’s shenanigans to look back at some time in the near future, when I would have forgotten what I did and wanted to remember.

Some of my journals

I would write every night with my unspoken rule of listing at least 9 things I was thankful for that day. I didn’t think too much of it and thought it would be something fun to do as a small hobby. Gradually though, this journaling turned into something else altogether-- a safe time and space to write about all my deepest problems. It became a need-to thing and a part of my daily routine. Through journaling, I found myself being able to problem solve and calm anxieties that otherwise would have been floating around in my head.

Journaling is an amazing win-win hobby to have, and if you haven’t already, you should definitely start doing it. Getting into journaling can be difficult, so here’s a small guide from yours truly to help you out:

How To Journal!

There are many different types of journaling that you can choose from. After all, it’s creative writing; the possibilities are endless! If you’re wondering where to start, here are a few most common subjects you can dedicate your journal to:

Collage by Lauren Acevedo
  • A Dream Journal - for writing about dreams you’ve had before you forget them.

  • An Artistic Journal - for expressing creativity through art. Oftentimes, people will use stickers, fountain pens, snippets of writing, etc. for their art journals.

  • A Food Journal - to plan meals, keep track of what you eat, or write down recipes.

  • A Gratitude Journal - for writing about the things you’re grateful for.

  • A Reading Journal - if you’re a bookworm, a reading journal can help you write down thoughts about the books you’ve been reading.

  • A Personal Junk Journal - for venting about any frustrations and anxieties you might be having.

Like I mentioned before, journaling can be done anywhere. For me, I like to write in a journal that I keep next to my bed before falling asleep. Others often like to journal online, finding it easier to write in the notes app of their phone or in their personal google docs.

Whichever mode of journaling you choose, it’s important to have a set time put aside to journal, whether it be in the morning before you wake up, at night before you fall asleep, after school, or after work. Having a set time is important because it helps with consistency, which is key if you want to reap the gratifying rewards of journaling.

Journaling is undoubtedly soul-food and mind-power, so why haven’t you picked up a pen? I promise that if you just try it out for yourself, you won’t regret it!

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