Believe what you want about journaling, but all I’m saying is don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
I didn’t realise the power of journaling until I was recommended to do it and heard prior to the recommendation that it was great for stress relief, and they weren’t wrong. I can safely say that since I started journaling consistently, my mindset and way of living has dramatically improved.
Journaling to me is simply just writing down your thoughts on a piece of paper. It doesn’t have to be this fancy notebook where you start an entry with ‘dear diary’ and write mantras for you to remember (even though it can be both those things). Ultimately, journaling is writing down whatever works for you in the form of a creative outlet – whatever clears your head.
For some people, journaling can be setting the tone for your day every morning, writing down something you’re grateful for and something you set out to do that day or that week. It can be something you do in the evening, writing down good things that happened to you that day and your feelings about what’s going on around you. Some people even journal morning and evening.
For me, I don’t even like the term ‘journal’ or ‘journaling’ sometimes. It’s just a notebook where I write down my memories, thoughts and feelings in the evenings.
I started writing things down in my notebook in the middle of last year, where I just felt like my mental state was all over the place. I would write down fun things I did that day and then spill all my thoughts down onto the page. Initially, I stuck to mainly writing down good things, so I could read back and remember all the good times. Then, I used it to work through my worries: I’m an overthinker, and this tends to be the root of all my anxiety. I used to write down my worry, see if there was actually any solutions that I could do right then and there, and oftentimes where there wasn’t anything I could actually do, I would forget the worry. It was like a big breath of fresh air. I would find that my worry wasn’t practical, but it was only through writing things down that I realised that.
I found that it was just an overall great way to organise my thoughts. I felt in control once I got all the thoughts I had going on in my head on paper. I often use it now to write about the good times I want to remember, so when I look back, I see how I was thinking back then and what great memories I was making. Writing doesn’t have to be ‘proper’, or ‘art’, it’s just a way for you to keep your head clear.
I didn’t realise the impact of journaling till I stopped: I was writing every day, then every other day, then I was in the best mental state possible and thought I didn’t need it anymore. I slowly started to decline again mentally, with my thoughts just being all over the place with ‘I need to do this’ or ‘this is going on tomorrow and the day after that’ and ‘what do I do here’. So, I picked it back up again over the past few months and I’ve seen a dramatic improvement in the way it sets up my day. I write in the evenings, so I don’t go to sleep constantly thinking of everything, and I know what I want to do the next day and approach it calmly.
It’s been fun to look back and see what I was doing and what I wanted to see happen in the near future, and whether anything changed (and yes, a lot changed). Journaling has been hugely therapeutic, even when I was in a good mental state. One thing I would say is that I do try to write every day, but I don’t put pressure on myself if I miss a day or two – I just do it when I feel like it but try to keep it consistent.
Even if writing is not your thing, I would really encourage everyone to try it for a week. You just need 5 minutes of your day to just sit down, and write. Even if you think you’re an organised, stress-free person, just sit down and write for a bit and see if anything changes. Call it ‘me-time’. Write about anything: what you’re thinking at that very moment, silly or not, what or who you’re grateful for, anything that’s coming up for you, things you need to do that day or the next, what mindset or goals you want to set for yourself. Just do it for a week, and see how you feel. If you look back and nothing much has changed, allow yourself more time, or just look back and see what progress you made throughout the week or laugh at the funny thought you had that day.
I can’t recommend this process enough, and it will take time. Just allow yourself to get lost in it. You can even write it down on a piece of paper and throw it away after a while. But you can also think of it like a memory book: you’re making history every day, so write it down and make it a physical copy to look back on for years to come.
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