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The Benefits of Keeping a Journal

I admit, it’s hard to keep up with writing a journal. With all the other things university students have to balance – school, work, sleep, etc. – taking that time for yourself can seem like an almost impossible feat. However, there are plenty of benefits in keeping a journal, and it doesn’t have to be too time-consuming.

Personally, I keep a detailed, long-entry journal, a small “one line a day” journal, and a memory journal; I also occasionally write down my dreams.

A long-entry journal is more time consuming than the others, but is terrific for getting out your thoughts and feelings about anything and everything, particularly if you don’t want to talk to other people about them. Putting dates on the entries also allows you to look back at certain points in your life and see how much you’ve grown and changed, as well as how much everything around you has changed! Reading through old journal entries is an amazing way to put things into perspective; problems that may have seemed big when they were happening start to look small – some of them you may have even forgotten about entirely! Keeping a journal like this can also help people cope with mental illness, particularly depression.

A “one line a day” journal is a small book in which you write down what you did each day at the end of the day in just a few lines. This sort of journal makes it really easy to keep track of your daily goings-on, as well as things that happen in the world around you. It’s the sort of thing you could leave behind for future generations to read and get a sense of what life was like for you. It’s an amazing tool for counting your blessings, too. Reflecting on each day right before bed forces you to see the good in every day, and how much things can change year after year. It also provides a good excuse for getting into contact with old friends to remind them of that crazy thing you did together a couple years ago!

A memory journal is a book in which you write down your very distant memories, such as things that happened when you were a child, before you had the capacity or foresight to write it down. Those funny little memories that pop into your head once in a blue moon – ones you’re not quite sure you’ll ever have reason to recall again. A memory journal gives you a space to record these fleeting memories before they’re lost forever in the sands of time. Looking back to your distant past can also shed new light on your present; oftentimes, our distant childhood memories are ones that shaped us into who we are today.

Writing down your dreams is also a very beneficial practice. Dreams can be a window into your deepest insecurities and greatest joys. Plus, they can be fun! In reality, we dream every night, but don’t always remember what we dreamt. I read once that writing down your dreams helps you to remember more of them. Skeptical and curious, I endeavoured to test this claim a few years ago, and for one month, I wrote down all my dreams. Sure enough, I was remembering my dreams nearly every night by the end of the month! Don’t believe me? Try it out sometime! ☺

Shaelyn Ryan is a first year student at Queen's University, and is a fiction writer, having completed and self published two novels. She would love to answer questions and comments about her articles, writing, or anything at all at sjryan1900@gmail.com!
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