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Mental Health

Documenting Your Thoughts: The Benefits of Journaling

I would like to consider myself a very organized person. I keep track of due dates for homework assignments, sporting events, appointments I have, and just about anything else that goes on in my life. Just staying organized and staying on top of things helps me stay sane. I have always thought that being so organized was something that helped with my mental health. Being in control of my daily tasks is something I find relieving. In the social media world, there are so many posts about mental health and making sure everyone takes care of themselves. An individual has so many thoughts constantly revolving throughout their head daily, and keeping positive thoughts in your head is important.

One thing that is always mentioned is journaling. There is all this positive talk about how keeping a journal of your thoughts can relieve stress, help you set and maintain goals, generate creativity, and allow you to really stop and evaluate your thoughts. It was until a month ago where I went on a weekend retreat where I really saw the effect journaling had on my mental health.

Kellyn Simpkin-Hat Girl Writing Book Grass Outside
Kellyn Simpkin / Her Campus

One weekend, I packed up and went on a weekend retreat with my church. I had never done something like this, and quite frankly I was nervous. I had no idea what to expect, and I had this whole expectation in my head to what I thought the weekend would entail. The retreat’s theme was all about self reflecting. After each speaker or reading, everyone would have around 20 minutes to self reflect and write down their thoughts. After the first speaker, I literally sat there and stared at my journal. I had no idea how to start, and I kept thinking that what I had to write needed to make sense. I built up all these expectations of what my journal needed to be like. Once I finally just started, I just continued to write. I wrote about random things that had been weighing heavy in my mind. I wrote about all these built-up emotions I had been holding back and not telling anyone. By the end of the retreat, I had made it a priority to set aside time everyday to journal.

person sketching on a white pad
Chance Centeno on Unsplash

For the past month, I have set aside 15 minutes either in the morning or at night to just write down how I am feeling. If I journal in the morning, I tend to write down some goals I wish to  achieve throughout the day. If I journal at night, I tend to write about what I accomplished throughout the day. I also usually write about the things that are weighing on my mind. Writing down what I am stressed or worried about really helps me feel better about the situation and create a a better feeling about it. Being able to just write about my emotions and not having to worry about anyone hearing me or finding out also is something I enjoy. Having a journal where all my thoughts are kept is cool to me and allows me to look back and see everything I got past and accomplished.

Ever since I started journaling, I have definitely found myself be more kind to myself and my thoughts. If you are hesitant about starting some quick tips are:

  1. Just start, pick up a pen or pencil and start writing anything that comes to mind
  2. Set aside time everyday at first so it eventually becomes a habit
  3. Purchase a journal you find cute or will help boost you to use it

Remember there are no rules to journaling. Write what comes to your mind and let your thoughts flow.

Abigail is a freshman and is majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Art as well as a certificate in Entrepreneurship. Abigail has a passion for fashion, running, and photography.
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