This last year was rough for, well, a lot of reasons, and it seemed like all the people around me were going through their own issues. Among my zoom classes and constant doom-scrolling on social media, I struggled to find ways to stay connected to myself. Until I decided to keep a journal. It was something I had considered doing for a while because I was always hearing how it helped friends of mine, but I never found the motivation to actually go out, buy a journal, and then start writing in it. However, I’m so happy I did. It’s now become not only a hobby of mine, but a way to relieve stress, find gratitude, work through difficult situations, and vent about my day when I need to get things out but have no one to talk to. I now feel like I can go into each day feeling a little more level-headed, and less overwhelmed about the things going on in my life.
One of the most helpful ways I’ve used my journal is to work through difficult situations. Be it struggles with friends, family, school, work, or my partner, it’s liberating to mindlessly write about the situation I am in, and brainstorm ways that I can try to fix or deal with it. If it’s a situation that requires confrontation and isn’t something I can deal with myself, it’s also helpful to get the negativity out of my body and put that energy elsewhere before confronting it. I can then go back and read what I wrote down to figure out the best way to approach the issue. Instead of lashing out at the person or thing frustrating you, you’re giving yourself the chance to take a step back and analyze the situation, taking a moment to breathe.
The comforting aspect of keeping a journal is that it’s all yours. Your journal is your space, and you don’t need to worry about anyone coming in to invade that space. It’s been helpful for me to have somewhere I can put down all my thoughts and transfer them from my brain onto a paper that I can then go back and read, versus worrying about telling a friend who might tell someone else. It’s refreshing to know that what’s in my journal is for me only and is something I can visit again when I need to. Talking to friends you trust is always amazing (and it’s great when we need it), but having a space just for you is important too because sometimes we need to deal with certain things on our own.
If you can get anything out of journaling, it should be the satisfaction of giving yourself a moment each day that’s dedicated to you and your thoughts. Whether you write for an hour about your future or take ten minutes at the start or end of your day to note how you feel, you’re giving yourself a moment that isn’t about anything else. Giving yourself fifteen minutes out of the 24 hours in a day to acknowledge how you’re feeling couldn’t hurt. It’s something we don’t do enough, but you deserve it.
I challenge you to try journaling if you’re looking for a new way to show yourself some love, and the beautiful thing about it is that it can be whatever you want it to be. For me, I most frequently write whatever is coming to my mind at that moment; It could be about my day, things I’m looking forward to, things I’m anxious about, tasks I have to do, noting what I’m grateful for, and so on. It usually just ends up being a stream of consciousness. Although, it can also be fun to follow a journaling prompt and guide your writing more if that’s something you’re into (trust me, there are hundreds of websites with prompts, just do a quick Google search!). Do what works for you, and try to stick to it! The important thing is you’re giving yourself the time to honor your thoughts, feelings, and mind, which is something we put aside way too often.