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If you’re like me — someone with a million things going on — I’m sure you’ve heard this before: “have you ever tried journaling?” Regardless of how you answered this question, I can almost guarantee your response included an eye roll. After all, keeping a journal won’t really solve anything, right? WRONG! I am about to share the health benefits of writing, how to effectively journal, and my experience with keeping a journal of my own. 

At the end of the day, we all just want to feel good, right? Well, journaling helps people in all sorts of ways, but it’s especially known to improve one’s mental health. When done correctly and consistently, journaling can boost your mood, enhance your sense of well-being, reduce feelings of depression, and even improve your working memory. Doesn’t that sound amazing? And you can have it all with just a little practice! It’s important to remember that there is a certain way to journal in order for it to be fully effective. Now, I know that makes it seem like more of a chore than just something to ease your mind, but trust me, it’s not that intense. Let’s move on to how we can practice effective journaling! 

Although it might not seem like it, journaling can be a lot more than just scribbling random words onto a page — but only if you make it more than that. When people take journaling to the next level, they call it effective journaling. Effective journaling is a journaling practice that helps you meet your goals and improve your quality of life. To achieve this, you’ll want to write alone in a nice quiet place, write 2-3 times a day, structure your writing in a way that makes sense to YOU, and last, but certainly not least, keep your journal PRIVATE. Your journal is a safe place to write down your thoughts, so treat it like a sanctuary. Once someone else is in your journal, the effectiveness of your journal entries will deteriorate.  

The last bit of advice I’d like to leave about journaling is this: don’t take it too seriously. I know when I first started considering journaling I was very confused as to what I was supposed to be writing about. I was always thinking about what I was going to write or how it was going to sound. Then I reminded myself that quite literally nobody is interested in reading my journal or cares to critique it. Journaling has helped me in so many great ways. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up. I keep my journal right at my bedside to keep myself on a schedule. I feel less anxious being able to freely write down my thoughts, and journaling always reminds me to keep my mental health in mind. 

 So, the next time you’re out and about, pick up a journal!

Claire Giannino is a sophomore at the College of Charleston studying English, Writing Rhetoric and Publication, and Film Studies. In her free time she enjoys listening to crime podcasts (Crime Junkie is her personal fav!) and watching new movies to review. You’ll most likely find her wandering around Charleston with a book in her hand and a large coffee! Claire hopes to pursue a career in art journalism. You can follow her on Instagram @clairegiannino
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