tatum van dam
the importance of journaling
I have been writing in a journal every night for the past seven years. In fact, I am nearly halfway through my eighth journal. It does not matter whether or not I am in the mood to write, I will jot down at least one sentence — one thought, every day. Whenever this factoid comes up in casual conversation, I always receive a response somewhere along the lines of: “wow, that’s so cool. I wish I could do that, but I just can’t,” accompanied with the follow up, “I tried doing that but it only lasted a day.” The thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can do it, and I promise that you can (and will) make your journal last longer than one entry. Everyone should do it, or at least attempt it. Here is why:
Journaling puts things into perspective.
If there is one thing writing daily has taught me, it’s that sometimes, my problems aren’t as big as I make them out to be. Reading back, I went from freaking out about failing honors chemistry my sophomore year, to freaking out about where I want to go to college my senior year, to freaking out about being in a foreign country post-high school. Honors chemistry: passed. College decision: made. Going abroad: cultured. Now, I’m freaking out about what to do with my life post-college (which, honestly, is a semi-valid freak out to have). There are most definitely bigger problems occurring in the world, and journaling has taught me to chill; life has weird ways of working out. No matter how bad things may seem, it will all fall into place.
Journaling releases stress.
If you are ever feeling stressed, angry, or sad about something, I feel strongly that the last place you should put your feelings is social media. Perhaps I seem a tad hypocritical given that my articles often stem from such feelings; however, social media is not a personal diary. Diaries have locks on them for a reason.
Whenever I am feeling distraught, I write out how I feel. It is often therapeutic, and after writing out all the conflicting thoughts in my mind, it feels as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. By writing out your feelings, it can prevent you from saying something you might regret to someone — especially if that “someone” is an important “someone”. Use a pen and paper to let out your emotions, and from there, figure out what can be done to solve your situation.
Journaling benefits mental health.
Two medical reviewers from the University of Rochester’s Medical Center found that journaling is beneficial for one’s mental health. It aids in releasing stress (as stated above), managing anxiety, and coping with depression.
The reviewers explain how journaling can assist in managing anxiety:
When you have a problem and you're stressed, keeping a journal can help you identify what’s causing that stress or anxiety. Once you’ve identified your stressors, you can work on a plan to resolve the problems and reduce your stress.
By writing in a journal, one is able to recognize and control possible symptoms causing poor mental health. You can prioritize your problems, and it serves as a platform for positive self reflection.
Journaling is ~rad~!
For the lack of a better word, journaling really is rad. In eight tiny journals, I have some of the best (and worst) times of my life documented. From seeing a relationship pan out from beginning to end in the span of a notebook to reading about the first night I spent with my now-best friends, I have a collection of memories documented. While they are mainly for myself to read and reflect on, they are also for future generations to come. It is as if I am writing a sentence to my autobiography with each passing day.
This is why I write in a journal every day -- and you should, too. Buy a journal, set a time to write in it, and just write. Write about anything: how your day went, what your goals are, that cute dog you saw at the park, that cute boy in your class, anything. You will truly be surprised how accurate the quote “everything happens for a reason” is.