As Socrates, one of my philosophy heroes, once said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” It’s essential to live beyond the day-to-day and look at the bigger picture via reflection. Diaries are not silly books that angsty teenagers write all about their love life in; keeping a diary is a respectable commitment. The benefits of journaling are reinforced by science. Studies show journaling is important for mindfulness, setting goals, emotional intelligence, memory retention, healing, communication skills, creativity, stress-relief, self-confidence and other life-changing skills. Even more, a University of Texas psychologist named James Pennebaker found that journaling strengthens immune cells, potentially lessening the impact of stress on physical health. Little do people know that there are many ways to journal. All you need is a journal and pen. Find what works for you!
This is great for a lot of people that are on the ~lazy side~. You can have a topic in mind and just jot some points under it. For instance, perhaps you have a page dedicated to “2nd Semester Goals.” In bullet points, you list things like “Get an A in Calculus,” “find a summer job” or “do something tourist-y in Boston.” You can use a diverse array of pens and flowery decorations to keep your pages looking insta-worthy. There are some very structured methods of journaling that you can check out further on the official Bullet Journal’s website.
Maybe you’re the kind of person that feels like you’re just aimlessly regurgitating your day into your diary. I’m guessing that’s not very fulfilling. Instead, give yourself “sentence stems,” which are the start of sentences that you’re meant to fill out. They’re great conversation starters that dig a little deeper. Some examples include “Today I feel….,” “Tomorrow I want to work on….,” “I’m grateful for….” — you catch my drift.
This is a great way to express your feelings toward someone without facing actual conflict. Sometimes, it takes a good rant to get us to really understand how we feel in our relationships. If you like your letter enough, it may be worthwhile to give the recipient an actual insight into what that letter said/ how it made you feel. Or perhaps writing to a untraditional person of choice feels more personable than writing “Dear Diary” or whatnot. Why not write unsent letters to yourself? I’m currently reading Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, the main character’s diary entries begin with “Dear God,”.
Just write whatever comes to mind. My AP Literature teacher had us do this for ten minutes with the intention of sharing what we had written. You’d be surprised with what you can come up with in five-ten undisturbed minutes of writing. Personally, it made my thoughts feel more connected than I had realized they were. Perhaps you’ll reveal an “a-ha” moment subconsciously.
One Sentence A Day
Sort of like a daily examen. Just write one sentence. Maybe it has a prompt, maybe it doesn’t—it’s up to you. There are really positive reviews of this journal called The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal: A Five- Year Record. I don’t have one myself, but I know other girls that do. They love that the journal is fast, offers them something to reflect on, and gives a sense of accomplishment on both a daily and yearly scale.
Me journaling this weekend knowing all the ~health benefits~