I Journaled for A Month and Here's How I Felt

When I think of journaling, I think of Bridget Jones writing about how she hates Mark Darcy in her diary. I picture Princess Mia bending over her journal scribbling about kissing Michael Moscovitz at the non-denominational winter dance. I don’t see myself divulging my innermost thoughts and feelings to a piece of paper. That is, I didn’t see that, until the beginning of January. On January 1st, I made a split-decision to include journaling on my lengthy New Year’s resolution list. I grabbed an empty notebook and a purple pen and started jotting down my scattered thoughts. I didn’t expect to really learn anything about myself, to really tell my journal how I truly felt, or to get some sort of therapy out of the experience. I was so wrong to think that. I learned so much about myself, uncovered layers I didn’t know I had, and worked through some of my biggest insecurities. In this article, I’m going to talk about my experience journaling, in hopes that it’ll make you understand just how awesome journaling really is for your mental health.

Day 1 felt amazing. Before I started writing, I established some quick ground rules. I wasn’t going to read what I wrote, I wasn’t going to let anyone else read what I wrote, and I was always going to end my entries on a positive note. With those things in mind, I began writing.

Week 1 went by really quickly. At the end of each night, I’d instinctively grab my journal and write for ten minutes. By the end of the week, I felt like I’d gotten a huge weight off of my chest. I learned some new things about myself and vented about issues that made me mad during the day. However, I found that I was writing a lot about my what I did during my day and not so much about how doing those things made me feel. Realizing that, I jumped into week 2 ready to dive into my emotions more.

Week 2 was groundbreaking. I got so much deeper into my feelings than I ever thought I would. I made myself talk about things I typically don’t even think about, like failure and body image. I started carrying my journal in my bookbag, so I’d write even more. It worked! Not only did I write at night, but I wrote in between classes most days too. Week 2 felt awesome. I was noticeably more positive and calm during the day, and I was excited to make even more progress in week 3.

Week 3 wasn’t as good as week 2. You often hear that the second week of starting a new habit is the hardest week, but week 3 actually proved to be the hardest for me. I didn’t write as much. In fact, I didn’t write anything for three days straight. I began to feel grumpy and stressed. When I did write, though, my entries were really long. I felt like I had to catch myself up on all the things I missed writing about. It felt like I had to choose the highlights, like I didn’t have enough time to really dive into the smaller issues I was dealing with. I didn’t like feeling that way, so I promised myself I’d write more in week 4.

Week 4, I delivered on my promise of writing regularly. I only missed one day. Most days, I wrote multiple entries. I talked about my feelings even more, which helped me stay happy outside of journaling. During week 4, I really developed a voice in my journal. My journal transformed from a book full of random emotions and thoughts to a book containing Adelaide’s emotions and thoughts. It was really cool to realize that I’d been able to develop my true identity inside of my journal.

Overall, my month journaling was positive! I surprised myself by how much I ended up writing -- I filled up over half of my notebook! I know that I’ll definitely continue to journal. Through this process, I’ve already come to understand myself so much more, and I’m excited to see how much further I have to go.