It’s not for everyone, but I love journaling. I love getting a new notebook and finding the perfect pen to write with. I love putting dates on my entries and being able to look back across the years. I can’t even tell you the amount of journals I’ve finished since I was at least 12, and have lying around. The act of writing is just therapeutic for me. It slows down my thoughts because I can only go as fast as my pen, and I get to reflect more. There’s also a soft spot in my heart for handwritten things. If you’re looking for something that calms you and helps you work through your emotions, give journaling a try.
Start with a cheap but nice notebook. There’s some pretty awesome journals in Target that are about $30 and have less than a hundred pages, which is ideal if you’re just starting out. From there, figure out what you want to write with. A nice pen, a mechanical pencil, or even a crayon has been my preferences at one time or another. Now all you have to do is write. This can be easier said than done at times. Don’t force yourself to write every day. I don’t write everyday, yet I’d say I’m an avid journaler. Between classes, work, clubs, and just being exhausted, you most likely won’t have time everyday. I do suggest finding a way to make it frequent, however.
Sometimes it’s helpful to do morning pages. This is when you wake up and immediately word vomit onto three pages of your journal, or set a timer for 5-10 minutes and free write. I did this over the summer and this helped me find intention for the day, make a to-do list, and get creative with some ideas I was having. It’s also helpful when you’ve slept on a decision or idea and need to work it out still.
You can also journal before bed. This is really great for reflecting on your day, and working out feelings about things that may be bothering you. I find this is a great way to calm my mind before attempting to sleep. It’s also a great time to write things that you’re grateful for if your goal is to be more positive.
If setting that time aside isn’t ideal for you, find a journal that’s easy to take on the go. I’ve only recently started journaling in public, and it’s actually not as weird as I thought it would be. In fact, a lot of people do it. Just toss the journal into your bag and find a quiet corner while your waiting for lunch to start or for your next class.
You may be thinking about the many times you’ve tried to start a diary or journal, only to find yourself picking up the notebook a year later and seeing it still on has one entry. If this is you, I have two tips. The first is: try linking it to a habit you already have. If you have tea every morning, journal while you sip. If you already use lunch as your free time, pull out your journal. If you go to the gym after classes and come back to take a shower, take 15 minutes to write down some thoughts after. Make it a priority with something else you also already make a priority.
The second tip is: don’t make this stressful, just be yourself. This isn’t supposed to be a burden, and there is no wrong way to have a journal. Draw and sketch if that makes more since for you. Write lyrics, glue things in it, make charts, or do whatever you need to make this all about you and what you like. Everyone doesn’t need to write pages and pages of streams of consciousness. However, arguably everyone does need a way to express themselves.
All in all, journaling has helped me so much that I want to spread the love. If I’m stressed about a presentation, I’ll journal to figure out why. If I need to make a decision, I write out the pros and cons. I use it to keep my head on my shoulders. Hopefully this happens for you too.