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Therapy and other mental health services are becoming a trending topic amongst our generation. Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, these resources are needed now more than ever. But finding a therapist, or even finding the funds for therapy, can be a difficult process. If you or someone you know is having a hard time, you should suggest journaling to them. 

Journaling, in my definition, is a form of therapy in which you can release all negative (or positive) thoughts and energy in a creative way. Journaling is not limited to just writing how your day went or what you were thinking throughout the day. Journaling is a great way to show creative expression. It can be used to draw out or symbolize your feelings in some way. 

Mental health is such an important topic to talk about. Getting the necessary treatment you may need is even more significant. In no way am I trying to diagnose anyone, but I encourage everyone to try this technique on a consistent basis and see how much better it makes you feel. Therapy can be expensive and not everyone is able to afford it, especially college students. Friends or family can get caught up in their busy lives and may not be able to sit with you. But, you can provide that kind of love to yourself by journaling. 

It’s important to give ourselves the love we may have never experienced. This is difficult if you face many issues and triggers in your life. Journaling helps in a tremendous way. One study measures the benefits of journaling each week. “Participants in the PAJ intervention condition were asked to complete Web-based writing sessions for 15 min on 3 days each week for the duration of the 12-week study…Compared with the patients receiving standard care, patients randomized to the PAJ intervention exhibited reduced mental distress, anxiety, and perceived stress; greater perceived personal resilience and social integration; and fewer days on which pain inhibited usual activities.” (Smyth, et al, 2018). This study proved the tangible benefits of journaling through its participants.

Journaling enables you to sit and focus solely on your own thoughts and feelings. This is extremely empowering because you are giving yourself the validation that you have always needed. Your feelings are valid and should be expressed in healthy ways. To me, journaling is one of the many healthy ways to love yourself and express negative feelings. 

How I journal is very simple. All I do is put on some relaxing music, like spa music or study music. Instrumental music is key, as songs with words in them tend to disrupt the practice of reflecting on yourself and your day. I take out my journal and pen and get comfy in my bed. Then, I write whatever comes to me at that moment. It could be thoughts that have risen throughout my day, venting my frustrations and complaints or positive affirmations that focus my energy on myself while boosting my confidence. 

Having your own space to process your feelings is crucial. Without expressing your negative feelings in a healthy way, they can build up and push your positive feelings away. Holding onto negativity hurts not only yourself, but others around you because you’re not able to fully enjoy your time with them. Journaling helps me process my feelings, good or bad, because I allow myself to have a safe space to release them.

Mercedes is a senior, Sociology major at Baylor University. Mercedes is from Oceanside, California, a little bit north of San Diego. Her interests are playing with makeup, trying new restaurants, and driving around blasting music. Her career goals include going to law school to become a family or immigration lawyer or opening a homelessness recovery center.
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