5 Ways to Make Journaling Work for You

As this semester is coming to a close, the stress of schoolwork and preparing for the holidays is more noticeable than ever. Trying to juggle school, a social life, extracurricular activities and a job can leave you with barely any time to yourself. Even when you do have a spare minute, it can be hard to find a way to use it in a way that lets you relax while also helping you reflect on your thoughts, feelings and experiences. One way to relax that I swear by is journaling. When some people think of journaling, the first things that come to mind are cliche “dear diary” entries or their past attempts at journaling that lasted about two pages, but I believe that there is a style of journaling and routine that is good for everyone. Here, I will share 5 ways to make journaling work in your life.

1. If you are interested in writing the classic “dear diary” entries, find a way to incorporate it into your daily schedule.This could mean setting the goal to write one entry a week or making it part of your routine to write every night before bed. Even if you don’t always make your goal, don’t let it discourage you and give up immediately. Whether you feel like you need to vent or want to remember all the details of an amazing day, as long as you are taking the steps to get in the habit of writing, you are in the right direction.

2. If you cringe at anything where you have to write more than a few sentences, but still want an outlet for your feelings, list journaling is a great alternative to normal journal entries. Your lists can be about anything from things that happened to you during your day, to things that irritate you, to things that you love about your significant other or friend. Writing things that are on your mind in list form can be a great way to put your thoughts into perspective or clear your mind when things get overwhelming.

3. Whether you want to get in the thankful spirit around the holidays or lift yourself up during difficult times, another great way to incorporate journaling into your life and focus on the good is keeping a gratitude journal. Whether it is an ongoing list, a few paragraphs or bullet points a day, writing down what you are thankful for keeps the good things going on in your life rather than the bad, and gives you a collection of positive things to look back at and read on bad days.

4. If you are missing a loved one or or angry with someone and just can’t find closure, another great way to journal is by writing your entries as letters to people. You could write a letter to someone you cared about that passed away, an old friend you lost touch with or an ex that you still have things you wish you could say to them. If a professor or coworker infuriates you to no end, lashing out at them would make matters worse, so a great way to blow off steam is by writing a letter and keeping it in a journal or throwing it away. This gives you a way to get your emotions out without any direct confrontation.

5. If you are looking to get in touch with your creative side, journals are a great place to create poems, stories or drawings. Whether you want to keep your creations to yourself or one day share them with the entire world, journals create a safe and convenient setting to channel your inner artist while providing a fun alternative to typical journal entries. It may push you to try a new form of self expression and you could even find something new that you're passionate about from it!

Journaling is a great way to eliminate stress, manage everything you have going on and express yourself! Finding one way (or a variety of different ways) to write down your feelings that works for you can help you gain perspective on your life. A journal can be a constant and trustworthy companion that only comes second to your bff. Try to wrap up your year with some reflection entries, ask for a journal for Christmas or make it a New Year’s resolution to try journaling more and capture your goals, growth and feelings-- you will be glad you did 30 years from now when you go back and read it! Happy writing collegiettes!