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Everyone has those New Year’s Resolutions of trying to hop on a new diet trend or exercising more – something to make them feel more productive and change their lifestyle. I’ve definitely attempted both of these and more in past years, but with most of 2020 spent in quarantine I did some reflecting and gradually found peace of mind in my writing. I’d always kept some sort of ‘diary’ growing up that I’d occasionally write in- occasionally being maybe twice a month- but spending so much time at home made me realize how much I actually enjoyed writing to myself. After a while I began to write more often and in greater detail about my life and reflect on some things that would’ve remained jumbled up in my mind if I hadn’t written them out. When 2021 finally came around I decided to commit to journaling every day, even if what I had to say wasn’t the deepest, most emotionally stimulating thought. Not only has journaling helped me process things better, but it has also served as a sort of therapy mechanism because some feelings that maybe you don’t feel like sharing with others are safely kept between you, the pen, and the journal. It doesn’t have to be extremely complex, though it can if you want it to be, but ultimately journaling is whatever you wish for it to be. Just like all other lifestyle changes, you get out what you put into it. So if you want to go all in, go for it, but just writing about whatever is on your mind can also reap amazing benefits for your mental health. 

For me, journaling is about writing down all my worries, recapping my life, and setting positive affirmations for myself. The combination of these three things has radically changed my outlook on life, and especially during times like the pandemic, it has helped me put my mental health and feelings above trivial things. Putting that pen to paper is a destressor in itself, there are no judgements that can come from journaling- it makes you think more clearly and unloads subconscious thoughts. Some entries are as short as three sentences and others can stretch to three pages, but the most important part about journaling is unpacking your true feelings and flushing out whatever is on your mind. I’ve found forgiveness in myself through my reflections, and even though it’s only been three months into 2021 I already feel like a different person just by expressing myself through my writing. Writing down at least one thing I’m grateful for in every entry is also something that has changed my mindset – it makes you realize that despite all the things that might be troubling you there are always positive aspects of your life that keep you moving forward. It’s a practice that might take some time to get used to and a habit that might take a bit more brain power, but taking inspiration and prompts from Pinterest definitely gets the ball rolling! Ultimately, setting aside five out of the 1440 minutes in a day to journal has been one of the best investments in bettering myself this year – every small input can make a dramatic difference in the long run for your happiness even if you don’t feel it in the day to day. 

Some tips for journaling:

  • Buy any journal, it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive! 

  • Try starting out by writing about things that happened throughout the day

  • Find some prompts on Pinterest to inspire you 

  • Write about something you’re grateful for each day or positive affirmations that’ll get you motivated for the day

  • Consistency is key, schedule in a time during your day to dedicate to writing

  • Pour yourself into your writing. Even if you’re not the best at writing just put down whatever comes to mind and things will flow from there. 

Alessandra is a freshman at Duke University majoring in Economics with a certificate in Markets and Management. She loves baking, journaling, anything food related, and listening to music (especially Bad Bunny)!
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