New Habits: The Importance of Journaling
Summer is a time for many things. After all, it’s not too often that busy college students find an entire season to themselves to explore different ideas and try new activities. For me, this summer was spent learning to implement habits into my routine that have enabled me to maintain a healthy relationship with myself in the midst of navigating the craziness that is this period of my life. While I spent the months of May, June, July, and August dabbling in various practices such as hitting the gym more often and returning to my love of reading, I’ve found the most rewarding and fulfilling activity to be journaling.
So, if you find yourself relating in any way to my past experiences—having difficulty finding time to yourself and needing an outlet to pour all your daily stressors into—you, too, are a great candidate for journaling.
Why Should I Journal? What’s the Point?
I asked myself the same questions when I first started. In general, journaling is regarded as a method of self care where writing down thoughts and feelings helps a person to be in touch with his or her inner life. However, the actual practice of journaling itself leaves much more room for interpretation and creativity, as it can take many forms. So, when considering whether or not journaling is for you, think of the reasons as to why you’re inclined to start. Now, this is where the idea of intentions comes into play. When I first opened my journal, I used up the first couple of pages setting intentions for what I was hoping to accomplish before I even began to write. No matter whether your reason is that you simply want to get your life in order, or that you want to be able to document a certain time in your life for the sake of memories, it is important to get in touch with what is driving you to put pen to paper in the first place.
How do I do This?
While a seemingly simple and straightforward concept, journaling can actually become overwhelming pretty quickly. Since we often look to writing as a mental health outlet, we hope to get as much out of our efforts as possible; but, putting this kind of pressure on an activity that is supposed to be calming can actually be detrimental. The thing is, as writers, we are trained from an early age to tailor our communication toward a certain audience, so we take on the idea that writing is about projecting knowledge or having groundbreaking realizations rather than simply getting enjoyment out of the process. Therefore, when we attempt to write for pleasure, we still end up putting pressure on ourselves to live up to our own expectations of sticking to these new habits and writing well-thought-out pieces of work while doing so. In short, another crucial part of journaling is remembering that what you write is for yourself and yourself only.
What am I Supposed to Write About?
Now comes the exciting part! There are so many different ways to go about journaling. If you’re somebody who appreciates more structured ways of thinking, then try out daily prompts. In either the morning or night, you can check in with yourself by writing gratitude lists and affirmations, as well as writing down either your goals for the day or what you accomplished that day. If you are somebody who likes more variety and would rather switch things up, try out a diary entry one day and then doodling and sketching the next day. A personal favorite of mine has been a 30-day writing challenge where I’ve written about a different topic every day for a month. At the end of the day, journaling is really just what you make of it, so try to have some fun along the way!